Kaishin Chu

Systems Thinker | Strategic Problem Solver | Experience Cultivator

Empathy & Engagement in the World of Design

Back in 2011, I attended The Design Thinking UnConference that was held in Vancouver, at the Emily Carr campus on Granville Island. I had been intrigued by the term, Design Thinking, it sounded like something that I did all the time, 24/7, yet it was a terminology that seemed vague to many, including myself . The event was a merging of multi-disciplines from various industries, coming together to talk about the methods of thinking about design. What idea or thought solidified in me that was was that I was in the right line of work, and it would be more about finding the right organization who valued the more holistic and empathy concerned approach to design.

Fast forward to 2012, the term Experience Strategy reaches Vancouver with a solidity. I was excited. My love for new media and tech showed more promise, as focus was put onto the ‘Virtual Experiences’ that users had. I realised then that Experience Strategy and Design Thinking was something that I was passion about, and not necessarily limited to Apparel Products and Visuals, but far more expansive and broad. I realised that I’m a sense maker (an innate need of mine), once I have a sense, then I can analyse to make addition or to simplify to provide the best possible solution. What also is important is to remember that change is constant, so this means being good at adapting as needed.

In all my years of design and developing brand, apparel products and such, both Design Thinking and Experience Strategy has been in the forefront of everything I do. I assumed this was the natural focus of all designers, but apparently not. I’ve seen the difference it makes when companies take heed from empathy thought driven designers and make changes to better the experience on all fronts. One of the companies I worked for, within 1 year of implementing lots of small tweaks and changes based on my observations, suggestions, and acting as the facilitator to integrate cooperation and collaborations, employee team grew from 5 to 17 and gross profit increased by 30%. It was my first time seeing how if a company cared to create a win-win situation, anything felt possible.  Employees and employers were more engaged, processes were simplified. Sales reps felt supported and happier as well. The company as a whole worked better as a unit, and thus the product quality got even better, products were meeting delivery deadlines better. The trickle down effect was visible. I had never felt prouder to be part of the team and a key contributor.

It’s been a long while since finding a company that embodies the value of Empathy and Engagement, from owners down to the customers. It’s time that designers get reminded of what makes us deisgners and damn good ones. We are the ones that create, solve, and build. We are also the ones who can set the foundations for something better. I feel it’s our duties to advocate for Experience Design and Design Thinking on all fronts, especially with key stakeholders in the company, as they are the ones who can support to make it happen on the larger scale.

Here’s a free online seminar on Design Thinking: http://www.gsb.stanford.edu/events/design-thinking-103013

Here’s a great video to illustrate the importance of Empathy in Experience Strategy: http://getpocket.com/a/read/316079631

Let’s be the change for a better world, create better experiences for everyone.