In this episode of our Creative Confidence Series, Jane Fulton Suri, IDEO Partner Emeritus and Executive Design Director, and Dean of IDEO U Suzanne Gibbs Howard reflect on the evolution of empathy in design during Jane’s 30-year career at IDEO and why bringing curiosity into your work takes courage.
Research shows that we view our future selves as strangers. There’s a disconnect between the objective truth that we will age over time and the ability for people to feel like their future self is a real person. Just as it’s imperative to build empathy for users when designing solutions to meet their needs, could we make better decisions by building empathy for our future selves?
More and more businesses are in touch with their customers from an information perspective, but not necessarily an insights perspective. The purpose of insights is to connect head and heart knowledge—information plus inspiration. Too often, information just describes phenomena with no clear path of what to do with it. But the best insights reveal behaviors or phenomena and point to solutions or ideas. And because insights are grounded in human needs and desires, they lead to ideas that create value in people’s lives.
The sad truth is that working life can often make us put on an armor that hides our own humanity and distances us from that of our colleagues. And when we lose touch with our humanity — when we replace empathy with efficiency, when we get curt instead of curious — it’s a surefire way to get stuck.
In a world where life is busy, complex, and filled with stress, empathy is the glue that holds relationships together. It’s the ability to detect other’s emotions and understand their perspective. When we feel accepted and validated, it builds trust, heals, and leads to greater happiness.
As a leader, how can you take a step back and get curious? And how can you build curiosity on your team? It starts with daily practices that allow us to seek and find inspiration everywhere—not just when we’re searching for it.
Observing and listening to consumers in their natural environments—where they eat, sleep, work, play and shop—can generate a bounty of innovative inspirations that are nearly impossible to discover without leaving the corporate campus.
A creative mindset can be a powerful force for looking beyond the status quo. People who use the creative techniques we outline are better able to apply their imagination to painting a picture of the future. They believe they have the ability to improve on existing ideas and positively impact the world around them, whether at work or in their personal lives.
In our Creative Confidence Series chat with IDEO Design Researcher Silvia Vergani and Principal Research Scientist at Verily Life Sciences Danielle Schlosser, we chatted about the challenges and opportunities in healthcare innovation today and how healthcare practitioners can begin to apply a more human-centered approach to their work. When design thinking methodologies are applied to healthcare they lead to a human focus and an openness to generate and test lots of ideas to find more innovative, far-reaching solutions.
This excerpt from Creative Confidence by IDEO Founder David Kelley and IDEO Partner Tom Kelley lays out the creativity challenge of the customer journey map as a way to gain new insights and develop empathy with your customers.
Having recently joined IDEO, I was fascinated by the way design researchers can enter any situation, and instantly make people feel at ease. They can interview anyone, from wounded veterans to wedding planners, and encourage them to open up and share their unfiltered opinions.