DESIGNING WITH EMPATHY

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As we think about where design can take us, we are reminded of the powerful customer connections that can occur. How powerful those connections will be is a variable that can be strategized at the design stage. That is why design is of ultimate importance.

Additionally, we have to recognize that purely by how we design a product or service, we are driving that customer experience positively or negatively. That is why reflection about purpose must precede design because design will either support or thwart purpose. As an institution, as an individual, you will be either supporting or thwarting your purpose. Ken Wong is the designer of the computer game, Monument Valley. He shares similar comments when he analyzes the game design process (“Empathy Is Required” Bloomberg Businessweek, 4/11/16–4/24/16, p. 82):

Game design is a discipline that you can get good at. . . . It’s about being tuned in to what makes a game work, what makes an experience fun. With our previous game, Monument Valley, we made it short intentionally so people could get to the payoff at the end. For a lot of people, it’s the first game they were able to finish. We got a nice letter from a guy who had sustained a brain injury; he used to really enjoy computer games, but after that most of them were too intense.

Wong is absolutely correct. Some intelligent empathy is needed here. If you don’t know what your customer wants, then you won’t be able to put yourself or your product or your service into that place where the customer is able to say, yes, that is what I wanted. However, intelligent empathy will give you the opportunity to support your purpose.


About James Meadows

Currently I serve as a training team manager for Tyco Integrated Security at a customer-care center in Kansas City. Additionally, I am a business consultant, a freelance corporate writer, an Assembly of God ordained minister, a Civil Air Patrol chaplain, and a blogger. I believe we are living in the most fascinating times of human history. To maximize the opportunities these times present, I have a passionate interest in leadership development and organizational success, both of which I view as inextricably linked.

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