A simple lil’ Empathy Map template

I’m always looking for ways to move our team discussions away from “requirements” and toward scenarios where the product will be used in the real world. But because of how many habits we’ve built up around requirements, you need very deliberate action to change the conversation in the room. You need a plan.

Somehow I recalled Jared Spool’s advice that people need to undergo some kind of experience to change their behavior or mindset in a significant way. (Want to switch from coffee with cream and sugar to espresso? Spend a month in Italy.) With that in mind, I reframed the problem:

  • How can I take this group of people through an experience that will change their outlook, at least for an hour or two?
  • What can I tap into that’s right at hand?

Since the user scenario we were working on was something everyone had been through, I looked to empathy mapping as a way to “go back in time” to that moment and remember what it was like.

The classic Empathy Map

This is definitely on the right track, but I felt that six different sections might be too much. Then I noticed the folks at Cooper simplified it down to three.

Simpler. I dig it.

Now we’re talking. I drew my own version so I could print in higher resolution.

A simple Empathy Map template

Everyone filled it out separately, and as we went around the room sharing our stories I noticed everyone had a different face drawn onto the stick figure; each person had a different attitude going into the situation, and that was reflected in their emotions.

I made this with the Paper app for iPad; the tools in the new Think Kit helped tidy it up. It’s shared to Mix so you can use it for yourself.

Originally published at rossbelmont.com.