Empathy Systems Co-Lab

Our empathy systems could be better,

The EmSysCo-Lab focuses on making and spreading the questions, experiments, and stories regarding how can we create systems that have empathy with customers, employees, and humans overall. Our goal is to uncover how less than optimal empathy systems in organisations (i.e. call centers, feedback surveys, customer interviews) can be redesigned through co-design with people to consistently and systemically provide empathy and meaningful qualitative information to the decision makers (at all levels, that means all of us) and influence the design of our world and ourselves. We are taking empathy upstream as an input to the ambitions that set our endeavors. We need new empathy systems thinking to propel us out of our own routine ways of doing things that do not meet our needs and the needs of those around us.

Photo of lab: my living room

The EmSysLAB is established in my living room.

Q. What is the future you want to create?

We want to make it normal to people that a strategy or ambition would be set with human empathy evident in the development of the build effort and the systems that it produces have empathy baked into their DNA.

We want to begin this now, so that we program representative and positive empathetic AI systems as autonomous systems full of human empathy. We hope we can have such empathetic AI, Asimov’s rules will be obsolete before we ever need them.

Q. How do you track progress?

Making this page! Writing stuff down! Talking to people and doing things. This is underdevelopment at the moment.

Q. How are you doing so far?

Experiment one has been to become a human empathy system for organisations (corporate consulting). This has progressed to realising how limited the reach of empathy can be when only the designated human researchers have it, then the decisions rely on the strengthens and weaknesses of that individual to fight the empathy data up the chain towards strategy and ambition conversations.

Conducting experiments throughout my own career around how can we shorten the distance to feeling with our customers using an ethnographic mindset and tools, design thinking tools, and intuitive drive to push the experiments upstream toward impact upon strategies.

We’ve been noticing and capturing the space we’ve entitled: Empathy Systems Thinking

We’ve been noticing and capturing stories, experiences & questions that would belong in EmSysLAB

We are about to embark on a journey to open this space and bring in the compatriots required to expand our thinking and reach.

Q. What are you NOT doing?

A literature review of the world’s existing body of knowledge, building empathetic AI (yet), publicly telling the stories (yet).

Q. What have you learned so far?

Empathy is made in the human to human electrical energetic sparks we produce in our parallel living next to others. It can be difficult to spark, but is infinitely powerful when ignited. It is our superpower and a root of our intrinsic motivation at times.

Empathy systems thinking is the school of thought, pursuit of experiments, and arousing of questions on how might we make the systems in our world feel more closely with our customers, employees, and humans in general. Empathy is made in the human connection we experience, and soon we will need to have a way to translate this into the world of machines as artificial intelligences becomes the systems we run our world and rely on ourselves. This is about taking empathy upstream and injecting it into the source of ambitions around how we build our world and ourselves, instead of it being a cool design thinking tool we use downstream in product land.

Questions for exploration in empathy systems thinking include:

· How might we improve the systemic choices we make about collecting information to make strategic and tactical decisions more empathetic?

· How might we input more qualitative empathetic experiences into upstream strategic conversations that set ambitions for endeavours?

· How might we take a rudimentary empathy system, like a customer survey, and augment that data input into the system with a more empathetic experience for the decision makers?

· How might we teach an AI empathy?

· How will we raise our AI children with empathy to have empathy?

Q. How can you help others? (+ a way to connect directly)

If you have sensed a broken empathy system or would like to find ways to take empathy upstream in your organisation please contact me by commenting on this post or on twitter @aliciadudek

If you would like to design an empathy systems experiment I can help guide you through my experiences and journey doing so in a variety of contexts from the willing to the hostile.

Q. What help do you need? (+ a way to connect directly)

If you would like to support with your own passions and skills in this space, have an organisation for an empathy system experiment, or have an empathy system reaching the end of its life ready for a re-co-design please contact me by commenting on this post or on twitter @aliciadudek

For more information contact Lab Director Alicia Dudek @aliciadudek
Follow our progress on this post and future channels as we develop them, under