This question comes up frequently, whether I’m talking to people about developing Butterfly, or talking to them about product/service/solution development in a more general sense. I’ll keep this short.
I think most people have a general appreciation for being empathetic, and acknowledge that it’s a good thing to be – like an aspiration type of thing. Where they seem to get a bit tripped up is when the term is used in “professional” or “business” contexts.
What I mean by empathy – in terms of solution design – is that I need to connect with the people who you want to build your solution. I think you need to do this before you build anything for them so that you better understand their problems. If I don’t understand their problems, I don’t know if what I’m building is any value to them.
Through genuinely connecting and building relationships with people (aka potential end-users), I get a deeper and more intimate understanding of their problems. From this, I can create a better solution which I can then bring back to these same people to test and validate. They will be open to meeting with me for these validation, because I have connected and built a relationship with them. Also, they will be open to meeting with me because I am trying to design a solution that solves their actual problem(s), rather than what I thought was their problem.
Anyway, I promised to keep this short. Future posts will further explore this concept of empathy, and how it ties into every aspect of solution design.