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Empathy Mapping

Gain an empathetic understanding of your customer by putting yourself in her shoes.

Empathy Mapping is an exercise that helps us get to know our customer. Empathy Mapping Canvas is the tool we use to facilitate the process. It is an effective method to begin gathering qualitative insights about your customer.

Empathy Mapping

Empathy Mapping is an explorative exercise that can be done alone, with a team, in conversation with a customer, and a variety of other ways. I recommend Empathy Mapping with at least yourself, your team, and your customer.

Empathy Mapping creates the conditions to discover qualitative insights about your customer. Empathy Mapping is often a great transition into the Persona Canvas. An Empathy Mapping Canvas is the one-page worksheet that essentially walks you through the process of Empathy Mapping.

Empathy Mapping Canvas

Below is an example of an Empathy Mapping Canvas. I drew it during one of my morning sessions at Starbucks.

empathy map canvas

Empathy mapping is one of the exercises that take place during the early stages of the design process. IBM calls Empathy Mapping, the “quick and dirty personas”. Empathy Mapping lets us know where to start.

Do you need Empathy Mapping?

If any of the following sound familiar, perhaps you (and your customers) might benefit from Empathy Mapping:

“Our users aren’t engaging with our product.”

“I’m not convinced that our users even use the internet to solve the problem we’re solving for them.”

“We don’t even need to re-engage them because when we’re ready to give them what we have they will be there waiting for the opportunity.”

Run your own Empathy Mapping Workshop on-site or with your team, anywhere in the world.

Empathy Mapping Workshop

Empathy mapping workshop provides qualitative insights to instruct your persona canvas which then leads to the value proposition design.

This empathy mapping workshop is a collaborative activity that cultivates empathy, gains alignment around user needs, goals, and pain-points, and bridges the gap between personas and design concepts.

Invite anyone who is responsible for creating products that serve your personas. If in doubt, invite them.

To get people thinking, I like to start with the following questions. These powerful questions set the stage for empathetic thinking by asking people to put themselves in the shoes of the persona.

  • Who
    • Who is the person we seek to understand?
    • What situation is this person in?
    • What is their role in the situation?
    • What problem is this person unable to solve or unable to solve well?
    • How does this person currently solve the problem, if at all?
  • Jobs-to-be-done
    • What are the jobs or tasks that stand in the way of the persona accomplishing her goal or solving her problem?
    • What do they need to do differently?
    • What job(s)-to-be-done are resulting in this person’s desire to hire a solution?
  • What decision do they need to make?
  • How will we know they were successful?
  • What do they see in their immediate surroundings?
  • What they see others saying and doing

Next steps

  • Break workshop participants into teams of 3-4 people.
  • Assign one persona per team if there are multiple personas, otherwise have each team work with the same persona
  • Pass out worksheets or have each team create a large Empathy Map by drawing a stick figure in the center of a large piece of paper and blocking out three sections (Think, Feel, Do) around it.
  • Give each team a copy of the extreme situations

Reflections

  • Have each team share their reflections with the larger group.
  • What surprised you? What did you learn? What aspects do you want to learn more about? What aspects will impact or influence your designs the most?

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“Daniel is a unique visionary. Empathetic, sensititve, and resourceful. He leads through facilitation. His programs are always focused around getting the right people to particiapte. I look forward to seeing how his initiatives work for the good of society.” -Vijay Chakravarthy, Industrial Designer Society of America

"I raised $3 million from Eduardo Saverin (Co-Founder of Facebook) & Tim Draper (VC and Founder of Draper University). I owe a lot to Dan for simplifying complex ideas and being the initial spark of inspiration that motivated me to go for it all." -Josh Rosenheck

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