Workshop Exercises: Understand

Empathy Mapping

Understand user and customer motivations by examining their actions and beliefs

Illustration of Empathy Mapping
Run a Empathy Mapping play

Timing: Discovery

Origin: Dave Gray,

Run time
30-60 minutes

Group size

Why: Develop empathy and insights into user needs, desires, and pain points to bridge user expectations and solutions

When: Use when developing new products or experiences – or when aiming to improve existing ones based on user feedback

This workshop exercise is part of the Workshop Patterns printed card deck.

A collection of workshop exercises that will help you ditch dull meetings and facilitate with confidence. It will help you master the design process and have more productive time with your team. The card deck will be ready for purchase in the end of 2023 and is now undergoing rigorous testing.

Reserve your deck!

Instructions for running this play

  1. Draw the following on a large surface
  2. Write the goal of the user in the middle.
  3. Conduct a 10 minute SIlent Storming session, writing down key observations to populate the canvas. Playback the result in plenum.
  4. Conduct a 10 minute Silent Storming session with the group, writing down assumptions about all quadrants of the canvas.:
    1. What is the user saying, doing, thinking, and feeling about their goal?
    2. What is the user hearing or seeing related to the goal?
    3. What jobs, pains, and gains do the user have in relation to the goal?
  5. Playback the result in plenum and conduct Affinity Mapping to combine findings.
  6. Do Assumptions Mapping to decide on next steps in terms of discovery and validation.

Tips to perfect this play

Master and adapt the play to fit your context and needs.

Tip: A shared understanding

Maps are for creating a shared understanding across disciplines – between you, your team, and your stakeholders. Invite everyone relevant.

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Ice Breakers

Relieve initial group awkwardness and establish a safe space

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