Tag Archives: empathy

3 Secrets To Good Teamwork

3 Secrets To Good Teamwork

GUEST POST from David Burkus

Teams are how work gets done most of the time. In a knowledge work economy, up to 85% of an average employee’s time is spent in collaboration with other people—on one team or on multiple teams. And that makes effective collaboration and good teamwork a top tier skill. Whether you’re currently a leader or looking to become a leader, focusing on developing your teamwork skills—and the level of teamwork on your team—is one of the highest returns on effort you can experience.

In this article, we’ll outline three keys to good teamwork and offer a few practical ways to improve on each one.

1. Clarity

The first key to good teamwork is clarity. Teammates need a clear set of tasks and objectives, and also to be clear on the tasks others are focused on. They need to be able to depend on the team to deliver on commitments and be clear about how their deliverables fit into the larger whole. In addition, teams need clarity on each others knowledge, skills, abilities, strengths and weaknesses. They need to know who the subject matter expert is for any given task and who is still developing that skill in order to properly assign tasks…and to ask the right person for help from time to time.

There are a number of ways to establish clarity when beginning a project, but teams also need to be deliberate about maintaining clarity as the project rolls out and the fog of work sets in. One effective way to do that is through a “huddle”—a regular, and fast paced meeting where teammates gather and report on what they’ve completed, where their focus is now, and where they might need help. Overtime, this routine will help everyone know what’s happening, but also who is excelling at what tasks and how they can help each other.

2. Empathy

The second key to good teamwork is empathy. If clarity is about understanding the tasks, empathy is about understanding the people on the team. Teammates need to know about each other’s different work preferences, personalities, and routines. Without empathy, we tend to assume our teammates will think and act like us—and when they don’t it can create conflict and confusion. And the more diverse a team, the more important empathy becomes on the team.

There are a variety of ways to build empathy but one of the most effective is through crafting and revising a team charter—or ways of working, group norms, rules of the road, and a host of other names. The idea behind a team charter is to facilitate a conversation about all the taken-for-granted assumptions about collaboration the team may have—like proper email response time, reasons to call meetings, ways to make decisions, etc. As they discuss, the team arrives at a set of norms they can agree to and then they abide by those norms for a few months before revisiting and revising based on what was learned. Empathy isn’t created by having the document, but rather in the process of having all those discussions.

3. Safety

The third key to good teamwork is safety—as in psychological safety. The level of mutual trust and respect felt on a team has a massive effect on the team’s ability to perform. If teammates feel safe to speak up, share ideas, or admit failures than the quality of their conversations and collaboration improves dramatically. Without psychological safety teams struggle to achieve a growth mindset and to learn and grow—and that puts a ceiling on the performance they’ll experience.

One fast way to start building psychological safety on a team is to signal vulnerability by asking for feedback. This is especially effective for leaders who can send individual emails out to each teammate asking just two simple questions:

  1. What’s something I do well I should do more of?
  2. What’s something you wish I would stop doing?

Because every teammate will have different answers, leaders will need to synthesize all the answers before they can apply anything learned. But the very action of asking for such honest feedback will signal to the team that their leader wants transparency. Over time that transparency will grow the feeling of psychological safety—especially once the team sees their feedback being applied.

And once psychological safety on the team grows, it will be easier to grow empathy as well. And when safety and empathy are high, teammates give more honest status updates in their huddles and clarity grows as well. As all three of these keys to good teamwork grow, the team’s performance will grow, because the team will become a place where everyone feels like they can do their best work ever.

Image credit: Pexels

Originally published at https://davidburkus.com on April 3, 2023.

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Getting Through Grief Consciously

Getting Through Grief Consciously

GUEST POST from Tullio Siragusa

Life brings opportunities, happiness, and skyrocketing success when we decide to live it fully and without fear. Along with that, we will face challenging times that will cause us to grieve.

Globally, we are all facing a form of grief right now. Be it the loss of a loved one to Covid-19, or the loss of our free way of life — grief is all around us. Before this pandemic that we are experiencing collectively, you may have suffered the loss of loved ones for other reasons, or you may have gone through a divorce, a breakup, the loss of a friendship, or the loss of a pet.

There are many forms of loss. You can experience loss of money, your job, reputation, your faith, health, and even loss of hope.

“Loss is a normal part of life and grief is part of the healing process if we learn to face it with grace.”

To get through grief with grace it’s ideal to face it with the help of others, but for the most part you have to get through it alone. We are privileged to have family, friends, spiritual direction, therapists, life coaches and other support groups around us, but healing grief is essentially between you and yourself.

“In time of grief you need to embrace yourself, love yourself and cure yourself.”

It is easier said than done, but there is truly no other way around grief than to face it fully on your own, courageously, vulnerability and with grace.

Importance of Grace

We all, at some point in our lives, have felt as if we reached our breaking point, but eventually we wake up to the desire to not be broken for rest of our lives. For instance, while going through hard times we are not always acting our best selves. Harsh words are often exchanged with others out of the need to “dump the pain” on someone else to feel some sense of relief. After doing that, we often feel guilty about it and apologize.

It is not bad to apologize, but losing your temper and saying things you normally would not say can not only tarnish your image, but can scar someone badly enough that you lose their trust for a long time, and sometimes forever.

“When you manage your emotions while grieving, you hold on to grace, and grace is the energy of mercy for yourself and others.”

Our personality gets groomed with every pain we overcome. If we walk through life’s journey with a mindset that everything happens for a reason, and everything happens to teach us something new, then every challenging time becomes an opportunity to add strong positive and graceful traits to our personality.

The people who learn to manage their emotions during the toughest times without falling apart, add an unprecedented trait of composure, grace and an emotionally intelligent personality.

How to Get Through Grief with Grace

First, you need to fully acknowledge that grief is normal. It is not a disease. It is not a sign of weakness, or lack of emotional intelligence.

Our human body and mind is built to respond to situations. When we lose something, or someone precious, grief comes knocking. Trying to avoid that grief is not the right way to get over it. The best way to deal with grief is to embrace it and get through it.

One of my spiritual teachers used to say: “The only way to get to the other side of hell, is one more step deeper into it, that is where the exit door is waiting for you.”

“In order to grieve with grace, we need the courage to face loss as normal as anything else we experience in life.”

I know people who have avoided facing the loss of their loved ones for years, but ultimately, they had to go through it and face it. Grief will come for you no matter what, so why postpone it?

The foremost thing to handle any tough situation is to develop gratitude for all those blessed situations in your life that make it beautiful. No doubt, feeling gratitude while grieving is almost impossible, but if you develop a habit of being grateful on a daily basis, it becomes possible to feel it even during tough times.

If you are going through grief, find a peaceful place away from all those people reminding you of the loss, and try to connect to any happy moment you can recall. Feel that moment in your heart. Hold on to that feeling as long as possible and write it down later.

Whenever you feel broken, be mindful of such moments. You will soon be able to tap to a comparatively happy person inside you, anytime you need to.

“The way to develop your grace muscle is to live daily with gratitude and make a mental library of the happy moments in your life that you can borrow against, during difficult times.”

We have been living in a time in history void of pain. We are constantly seeking happiness and running from pain and suffering. Now we are being forced to face pain, suffering, uncertainty, and loss.

There are blessings inherent within loss and suffering. The blessings are always revealed on the other side of grief, and it is always hard to believe that the blessing is happening amidst grief and pain. However, if you look back in your life at the moments that defined you, the moments when you experienced the most Light, the most blessings — it was soon after your darkest hours.

“When we move through the process of grief believing in our ability to grow from the experience, we become more aware of the blessings in disguise that will come out of it.”

A sense of serenity can be achieved through releasing the pressure of the expectations of a set pattern for your life. There comes a moment when it is better to embrace what you can’t change, and develop the courage to strive for what you can.

“Acknowledging your capacities and the difference between what you can and what you can’t control, will make it easier to go through grief.”

What I am talking about is the power of surrendering to what is, instead of holding on to what could have been. For most people, grace is among the most precious trait of their personality and behavior.

If you have lost something or someone precious that is an irreparable loss, it is important to take care of yourself during those testing times. Remember that all chaos comes with an expiration date, and to surrender to the change you need to make to keep moving forward.

Remember the blessings in your life, be grateful for what is, has been, and will be, and be patient with yourself.

NOTE: For all those who have lost loved ones during the Covid-19 pandemic and have not been able to properly say goodbye, I wish that their memory be a blessing in your life.

Image credit: Pexels

Originally published at tulliosiragusa.com on April 27, 2020

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Avoiding An Unamazing Customer Experience

Avoiding An Unamazing Customer Experience

GUEST POST from Shep Hyken

NICE isn’t just the right way to treat people. It’s the name of a software company that specializes in helping businesses improve their customer and agent experience. NICE has analyzed billions of customer interactions to better understand customer behavior. They know what customers like and dislike. They know what frustrates customer support agents and what gets them excited about helping their customers. But often, it’s not an agent experience that gets customers to come back.

A recent study from NICE found that 81% of consumers today start with a digital channel when they have a question, a need or want to buy something. They don’t call the company. They go to a website, YouTube, Google search, etc. They want and expect the companies and brands they do business with to have answers readily available. What they don’t want is to call a company, be placed on hold for what seems like an unreasonable period of time, talk to a rep who transfers them to another rep, etc., etc.

I recently interviewed Laura Bassett, Vice President of Product Marketing at NICE, and had a fascinating conversation about how customers’ expectations are changing. She said many experiences are unamazing. They simply disappoint, which doesn’t give a customer the incentive to come back for more. Bassett said NICE’s mission is to rid the world of unamazing customer experiences. Here are some of the nuggets of wisdom Bassett shared on how to do exactly that.

1. Customer experience is the entire journey.

Many people make the mistake of thinking that customer experience is customer support. It’s much more than that. While customer support is part of the experience, it really starts when a customer initiates a Google search, finds your company and interacts with your website. The service begins with how easy it is to do business with you regardless of where they are in the customer journey.

2. Customer experience involves every person in the business.

Just as customer experience includes the customer’s entire journey—not just when they reach out for customer support—it also involves every employee. If you aren’t dealing directly with a customer, you support someone who is or is part of the process that will impact the experience. Even people behind the scenes, who never interact with the customer, have impact on the experience. Everyone must understand their role and contribution to the customer experience.

3. Proactive communication is essential to the customer experience.

Companies know many of the questions that customers ask. So, why not be proactive about giving customers information before they have to make the effort to get answers? Bassett said, “Companies should understand and predict when they can answer a question before customers even realize they have it.”

4. Walk in your customer’s shoes.

This is an old expression, yet its meaning is timeless. You must understand what the customer is going through at every step of the journey. Then compare it to the experience you would want. When designing an experience that makes customers want to come back, think about what would make you come back. Is the experience your customers receive different than what you want?

5. Agents are consumers too.

Their expectations have accelerated. They compare what they should be able to deliver to what they experience with other businesses. When they have an amazing experience with another company, they want to repeat that experience for their own customers. They must be equipped with the tools to deliver what they consider to be an amazing experience.

6. Make your customer support agents knowledgeable.

This is a great follow-up to No. 5. Help them understand that they don’t have to follow a script when it is unnecessary. They don’t want to feel held back. They don’t want to feel over-managed or under-enabled. After you hire good people and train them well, you should empower them to do their job. Bassett said, “Turn agents into customer service executives who can really own that experience.”

7. Amazing customer service doesn’t need to have fireworks.

Seamless and simple wins every time. This is the perfect concept to close out this article. Nothing shared in this article is rocket science. It’s common sense. It’s what every customer wants. To be amazing, you don’t have to go over the top and WOW the customer with the most incredible service they have ever experienced. Delivering the simple and seamless actually creates the WOW factor so many businesses believe is unattainable. Just be easy. Eliminate friction. Easy and seamless isn’t that hard—and for customers, it’s the opposite of unamazing!

This article originally appeared on Forbes

Image Credit: Shep Hyken

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Empathy: The Currency of Human Connection and Innovation

Empathy: The Currency of Human Connection and Innovation

GUEST POST from Soren Kaplan

Having worked with innovation teams from global companies like Visa, Colgate-Palmolive, Kimberly-Clark, Disney, Medtronic and many others, there’s one consistent success factor when it comes to innovation, no matter what you’re doing: it all starts with the customer.

Companies spend oodles of time and money trying to understand customers. They conduct surveys, hire market researchers, run focus groups, analyze social media, and the list goes on. What’s often missed, however, are customers’ deeper needs and underlying pain points that really matter to them. Quantitative surveys, for example, might give you a sense of a market’s overall sentiment about a topic, but you won’t get to know someone’s personal struggles and underlying motivations from checkboxes on an online form.

Instead, you need to truly put yourself in the customer’s shoes. It’s not just about intellectually understanding their situation. It’s about tapping into the emotions they feel, and even feeling them yourself as part of the process of connecting to their experience.

Empathy Reveals New Opportunities

I recently led a leadership development program for a large health care provider with hundreds of hospitals. They wanted to understand their patients better, so they could come up with innovations to help them stay healthy and avoid costly visits to the doctor and hospital. Initially, the team had ideas to provide promotional materials on how to eat healthier and exercise.

As part of the process, a small team went to visit patients at their homes in rural areas. At one house, they discovered a giant water tank had been built by a company that towered over their patient’s home–and it was slowly dripping water on the roof, creating a whole variety of problems, including causing the beginnings of respiratory issues for the woman living in the house due to mold. The team was shocked.

The team realized that pamphlets about healthy eating and exercise wouldn’t do much to help. They also recognized that in certain cases they might need to provide radically different types of support to their patients as part of ensuring their overall health, beyond just providing traditional health care. They helped the woman contact the water tank company to fix the leak. They have also since expanded their approach around prevention to address various “social determinants of health” in communities like poor quality water, lack of healthy food, and other issues that lead to health issues long before someone shows symptoms of a formal medical issue.

Immersing yourself in the world of your customers through visits, observation, interviews, and other interactions can provide a new perspective around issues, problems, and assumptions.

Capture Concrete Observations

Empathy is a core element of “design thinking,” a common approach used for product and service innovation. It’s also a concept that can be hard to understand when it comes to translating what you might see and hear into something meaningful about the customer. Here’s a template for doing just that from Praxie.com.

Customer Empathy Map

The next time you connect with a customer, consider the following to help capture concrete observations:

  • Say: What does the customer explicitly say?
  • Feel: What are the customer’s emotions?
  • Think: What occupies the customer’s thoughts?
  • Do: What does the customer do in public?

By providing a structure for cataloguing your observations, you can turn what might seem as ambiguous into something tangible.

Turn Observations into Insight

It’s one thing to observe customers. It’s another to translate what you observe into real insights that help catalyze new ideas.

Once you’ve cataloged your observations, take a step back. Consider the ultimate “pain points” that your customer experiences. What are the customer’s top problems or frustrations? Also be sure to consider the “gain” the customer hopes to achieve. What does the customer hope to accomplish or achieve?

Answering these questions helps move general observations into insights that can be used as the basis for generating new ideas.

Give the World Your Empathy

Empathy is the currency of human connection. We all crave it. And when we give it to others, we build and deepen relationships. Try empathizing with others. You’ll see the returns in the form of a better world, and greater innovation.

Image credits: Praxie.com, Pexels

This article was originally published on Inc.com and has been syndicated for this blog.

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Importance and Ethos of Empathy in Business

Importance and Ethos of Empathy in Business

GUEST POST from Douglas Ferguson

Why is empathy important in business? The reality is that though empathy focuses on identifying others’ emotions and connecting with your team in the workplace, true empathy has powerful results for every facet of an organization.

Organizational Ethos: Why is Empathy Important in Business?

Why is empathy important in business? The reality is that though empathy focuses on identifying others’ emotions and connecting with your team in the workplace, true empathy has powerful results for every facet of an organization.

Empathy makes it possible to center each other’s needs, desires, and emotions at the heart of what you do. From navigating your intuition to working to identify and meet the needs of clients, workplace empathy is essential to effective leadership and future success.

Below, we explore why is empathy important in business as we discuss:

  • Empathy in the Workplace
  • Empathy as Empowerment
  • The Ethos of Empathy
  • Why Empathy is Important for Business
  • Applications of Organizational Empathy

Empathy in the Workplace

Allowing empathy in the workplace encourages leading from the heart. By centering emotional intelligence in your organization, you’ll prioritize a people-first approach to leadership.

Empathy allows us to recognize others’ emotions and to understand their point of view in a situation. When employed in the workplace, empathy offers insight into how to understand and respond to others’ needs. While empathy can be confused with sympathy, the two aren’t the same. Empathy focuses on identifying and sharing the emotions and experiences of others.

By practicing emotional intelligence, organizations can use empathy to better navigate and support their employee’s well-being, while driving innovation and collaboration. As life constantly ebbs and flows, employees need empathetic leaders that understand the nuances of navigating life’s changes. This allows team members to craft the best work-life balance that lets them do their best work while maintaining a positive home life.

Empathy as Empowerment

Why is empathy important for business? The simple answer is that empathy empowers. As leaders and fellow team members extend empathy to each other, they are allowing one another to feel a sense of validation and respect. Considered to be an organizational superpower, empathy can positively impact employees’ engagement, motivation, and well-being.

The true power of empathy lies in your ability to envision yourself in a team member’s position, or a position of leadership. Once empathy becomes part of the organizational culture, it empowers employees to center their fellow members and work collaboratively.

From a leadership perspective, empathy invites employees into the decision-making process. This communicates that leaders value and trust the opinions and positions of their team members. As such, more employees feel a sense of validation and are driven to engage with their work and their teams’.

The Ethos of Empathy

Workplace empathy is part of a larger conversation about organizational ethics. The ethics of an organization refer to how the leadership and team members respond to their external environment. These ethics dictate the principles and guidelines that determine how the company and its employees conduct business in the workplace.

Leaders should work to translate empathy into their organizational ethos to ensure that every decision is guided by a commitment to uplifting and connecting with others. To make an impact with empathy and ingratiate it in your company culture, ensure that your organization has a clear code of ethics. By building empathy into your ethos, you’ll train your leaders and employees to constantly prioritize each other’s feelings and perspectives in the workplace.

Why Empathy is Important for Business

Empathy has a multifaceted impact on the workplace. From enhancing leaders’ capabilities and improving the way team members relate to one another to prioritizing clients’ needs and customer relations, empathy is undoubtedly an important part of any business.

Empathy benefits businesses in the following ways:

1. Empathy is your  leadership superpower.

  • Maintain Top Talent: Leaders that connect with their team in a genuine way are able to foster a sense of loyalty and retain the best people.
  • Boost Morale by Instilling Motivation: Empathetic leaders can successfully encourage their teams and motivate them to perform at their best.
  • Increase Sales and Productivity: Leaders with empathy can better understand customers’ needs and address their desires, pain points, and fears.

2. Empathy is essential for teams.

  • Develop a Community: Through empathy, team members can develop stronger bands and build trust in each other. This allows team members to become a true community both in and out of the workplace.
  • Increase innovation: Empathy is linked to innovation as it allows team members to practice curiosity, generosity, and equality towards their colleagues’ ideas. By entering another’s perspective, team members develop a sense of compassion that allows for creative thinking.
  • Create a safe environment for collaboration and learning: Teams that practice empathy are leading with their heart. This encourages a sense of psychological safety, allowing others to feel vulnerable and open to learning and collaborating.

3. Empathy is transformative for clients.

  • Forge connections with customers: Empathetic organizations put their clients first. This human-centered approach allows teams and leadership to build real bonds with their customers that can last a lifetime.
  • Prioritize clients’ wants and needs: Why is empathy important for business? Empathy makes it easy to identify and prioritize clients’ wants and needs. By walking a mile in their shoes, an organization will have a better understanding of customers’ expectations.

Applications of Organizational Empathy

Discovering why empathy is important for business is the first step in cultivating an empathic culture. The next challenge is learning to apply empathy in every facet of your organization.

Implement empathy in your workplace with the following practices:

1. Listen to Others

Listening to others is the first step in implementing empathy in the workplace. Listening goes beyond hearing what someone says; empathic listening requires one to actively listen and pay attention to body language, facial expressions, and similar nuances.

2. Use Empathy Maps 

Empathy maps allow organizations to take a human-centered approach to problem solving and ideation. Essentially, this helps one to get inside the user’s head. Organizations use empathy maps to determine what the user is thinking or feeling, and how they may experience the product.

3. Design User Personas

User personas identify the skills, goals, attitudes, background information, and behavioral patterns of your target audience. This allows your team to better explore how to relate to users and which solutions would benefit them the most.

4. Practice Empathy Immersion

Use an activity called empathy immersion to encourage your team to understand their perspective and opinion of others.

  • Change Your Perspective

Challenge your team to adopt another’s perspective.

  • Limit Yourself

A major part of having empathy for another person is understanding the challenges and struggles they face. By limiting yourself, you’ll be able to experience the same type of challenges as you empathize with their experience.

  • Do It Yourself

Oftentimes in the field, it makes the most sense to wait for management or a qualified leader. However, this shouldn’t limit one from problem-solving on their own. Under empathetic leadership, team members will feel a sense of self-motivation and confidence that allows them to take agency and create solutions of their own.

  • Similar Experience

Team members can empathize with each other and their clients by recreating an experience similar to what their colleagues or customers are going through.

  • Day-in-the-Life

A day-in-the-life activity allows team members to walk in another’s shoes and navigate the successes and pitfalls from another person’s perspective.

Want to adopt empathy in your organization? Connect with us at Voltage control to learn the ways you can implement empathy in your workplace. Our courses on Change Management and Master Facilitation will teach the art of leading with empathy as you learn how to shift your company culture to one that embraces an empathic ethos.

Article originally seen at VoltageControl.com

Image Credit: Pexels

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A How To Guide for Overcoming Procrastination

A How To Guide for Overcoming Procrastination

GUEST POST from Janet Sernack

I often wonder why some people procrastinate by delaying, postponing, or avoiding solving problems, or by withdrawing from making smart decisions, taking calculated risks, or taking intelligent actions?

  • Why do they become paralyzed and unable to take the actions necessary to solve some of their key problems?
  • Why do they often resist making even the most necessary changes to support the delivery of their creative solutions?
  • Why do so many also avoid taking personal responsibility and being accountable towards achieving their desired outcomes and goals?
  • Why do people disengage, even when the situation or problem may be critical to their own, their teams, or their organizations success?

Despite knowing that there may be a range of negative consequences for procrastinating, involving a crippling, overwhelming, and paralyzing combination of reactive responses?

Which then typically impacts negatively on people’s self-efficacy and self-belief, self-worth, and self-esteem and diminishes their motivation, disengages them and immobilizes their ability to take the necessary actions and as a result, spiral downwards?

How do we help people overcome procrastination?

  • Why is this important?

It seems that procrastination is a challenge we and many others have faced at one point or another, where we struggle with being indecisive, delaying, ignoring, avoiding taking actions to initiate, progress, or completing tasks that may be important to us, as well as on issues that really matter to us, our teams, partners and organizations.

Ultimately leading to failures, and an inability to mitigate risks, or be creative and inventive and decreasing possibilities for innovation and increasing engagement, productivity, and improving performance.

Also potentially leading to feelings of loss, insecurity, inadequacy, frustration, disengagement, and depression and in extreme cases, client, project failures and job losses, and even burnout!

Why do people procrastinate?

  • The need for security and self-protection is the key root causes of procrastination

Procrastination is most often a self-protection strategy, a way of defending ourselves, rooted in fears that result in anxieties around feeling unsafe, vulnerable, and being judged or punished, especially in times of uncertainty, unpredictability, uncontrollability, and when feeling overwhelmed.

In most organizational contexts, procrastinators are likely to respond be risk-averse by:

  • Being apprehensive and even withdrawing energetically (dis-engaging) from people as well as from the creative conversation, coupled with a lack of commitment to the change process or towards achieving the agreed goal (lacking conviction and being worried about the future).
  • Not showing up and spending a lot of time and energy zigzagging around and away from what they feel is consuming them or making them feel threatened or uncomfortable (avoidance).
  • Blaming external people and factors for not “allowing” them to participate or succeed (time, workload, culture, or environment).
  • Denying that achieving the goal really matters, bringing up excuses, and reasonable reasons about why having the goal doesn’t really matter to them, as well as a willingness to take risks (non-committal).
  • Being fearful of the future, dreading what might be the range of possible negative and overwhelming events and situations (pessimism).

What are the key signals of an effective procrastinator?

The first step in noticing the key signals is to tune into our own, and peoples’ effective avoidance default pattern as to what is really going on from a systemic perspective.

By paying deep attention, and being non -judgmental and non evaluative to the range of signals outlined as follows:

Behavior Signals

  • “Playing it safe” or “being nice” by being unwilling to challenge and be challenged.
  • Resisting any change efforts, disengaging, and being reluctant to disclose and share authentically what is really going on for them.
  • Unwillingness to take risks.
  • Shying away from engaging with their partners, families, colleagues, group activities, and from having candid conversations.
  • Being overtly indecisive and non-committal.

Neurological State Signals

  • Increased anxiety and “attention deficit” syndrome.
  • Low motivation and self-confidence.
  • Diminished ability to self-regulate and self-control.
  • Diminished self-efficacy and self-concept.
  • Onslaught of the creeping doubts and the imposter syndrome.

Extrinsic or Environmental Signals Occur When Fearful of Perception of Others

  • Performing poorly, making mistakes, or failing.
  • Fearful of doing too well, or in being too successful.
  • Losing control, status, or role.
  • Looking stupid, or being disapproved of.
  • Avoids conflict situations.

Fear of Success Signals

Some of us are unconsciously afraid of success, because irrationally we secretly believe that we are not worthy of it and don’t deserve it, and then self-sabotage our chances of success!

  • Being shy, introverted, and uncomfortable in the spotlight.
  • Being publicly successful brings social or emotional isolation.
  • Alienating peers as a result of achievement.
  • People may think you’re self-promoting.
  • Being perceived as a “tall poppy”.
  • Believing that success may not be all it’s cracked up to be, and that it might change you, but not for the better.

Fear of Failure Signals

Some people’s motivation to avoid failure often exceeds their motivation to succeed, which can cause them to unconsciously sabotage their chances of success.

  • Cognitive biases or irrational beliefs act as filters distorting reality.
  • Past pains felt from being vulnerable, abandoned, punished, blamed, or shamed in front of others, or of being disapproved of, envied, rejected, or disliked by others.
  • Fearful of looking “bad” or incompetent, in front of others.
  • Feeling threatened, a sense of danger or potential punishment, causing them to move away (freeze, fight, take flight) from confronting dangerous, painful situations as threatening.

Overcoming Procrastination Tips 

  • Co-create a safe, compassionate, and collaborative relationship

As most people find safety in procrastination at some point in time, to be an effective leader, manager, or coach in these situations, it’s important to be empathic and compassionate and “work with” where they may be coming from in terms of underlying self-beliefs:

  • “I don’t want to get hurt”.
  • “I don’t want to expose myself to risk”.

As well as respond constructively to their thoughts about how others may see them including:

  • Lacking confidence,
  • Hesitant.

Noticing how they may perceive themselves:

  • “I am nowhere near as good as I should be”.
  • “I am inadequate.”

Then by paying deep attention, and being intentional in co-creating a safe creative, and collaborative conversation that builds safety, permission, rapport, and trust by being:

  • Gentle and non-threatening, being both kind and courageous,
  • Aware of being both too direct, fast, and too laid back.
  • Providing gentle guiding, assurance, and lots of patience.
  • Focused on encouraging engagement, commitment, and confidence towards setting and achieving the desired outcome.

Ultimately enabling and equipping people to overcome procrastination creates openings and thresholds for learning and growth, to become the best person, to themselves and others, they can possibly be, and achieve the changes they wish to make in the world.

Find out about The Coach for Innovators Certified Program, a collaborative, intimate, and deep personalized innovation coaching and learning program, supported by a global group of peers over 8-weeks, starting May 2022. It is a blended learning program that will give you a deep understanding of the language, principles, and applications of a human-centered approach to innovation, within your unique context. Find out more.

Contact us now at mailto:janet@imaginenation.com.au to find out how we can partner with you to learn, adapt, and grow your business, team and organisation through disruption.

Image credit: Unsplash

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The Power of Empathy

How to Develop a Human-Centered Design Mindset

The Power of Empathy

GUEST POST from Art Inteligencia

In today’s fast-paced and technology-driven world, designing for human needs has become more important than ever. Human-centered design, also known as empathic design, focuses on understanding the needs and experiences of individuals to create products and services that truly meet their requirements. By adopting this mindset, designers can revolutionize industries and positively impact the lives of people around the globe. In this article, we explore the power of empathy in design through two case study examples that demonstrate the transformative potential of a human-centered approach.

Case Study 1: Airbnb

When Airbnb was founded in 2008, the founders, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia, were faced with a market saturated by traditional hotels and limited accommodation options. To differentiate their platform, they decided to incorporate human-centered design principles into their approach. Chesky and Gebbia knew that to truly understand the needs of their potential users, they had to immerse themselves in their shoes. Hence, they embarked on a journey of empathic research by personally living in the homes of their target audience.

Through extensive interviews, observations, and interactions with hosts and guests, Airbnb gained valuable insights into the pain points and desires of their users. They learned that guests sought a more personalized and authentic experience, while hosts wanted to share their homes and make meaningful connections with others. Building on these insights, Airbnb designed their platform to cater to both guest and host needs, allowing users to personalize their bookings, interact with the local community, and build trust through user reviews. The human-centered design approach fueled Airbnb’s rapid growth and disrupted the hospitality industry, leveraging the power of empathy to revolutionize the way people travel and experience new places.

Case Study 2: IDEO

IDEO, an award-winning global design firm, is renowned for its human-centered design mindset. One notable example of their empathic approach is their work with the healthcare system in Ghana. In collaboration with the Ghana Health Service and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, IDEO sought to address the challenges of immunization delivery in rural areas.

IDEO’s team immersed themselves in the local communities, engaging with healthcare workers, parents, and children to gain a deep understanding of the barriers to immunization. They conducted interviews, observed vaccination processes in action, and analyzed the existing infrastructure and resources. Through this empathic research, IDEO uncovered multiple obstacles, such as inadequate refrigeration systems, lack of transportation, and cultural misconceptions about vaccination.

Drawing on these insights, IDEO developed innovative solutions tailored to the specific needs of the Ghanaian communities. They introduced portable solar refrigeration units to ensure the safe storage of vaccines in remote areas, designed transportation systems to reach underserved populations efficiently, and implemented community education programs to dispel myths surrounding vaccines. IDEO’s human-centered design approach not only improved vaccination rates in Ghana but also served as a model for transforming immunization delivery worldwide.

These two case studies exemplify the power of empathy in design. By immersing themselves in the lives of users, both Airbnb and IDEO were able to uncover profound insights that drove meaningful innovation and positive impact. Empathy allows designers to move beyond assumptions and preconceived notions, enabling them to create products and services that truly resonate with the needs and aspirations of users.

To develop a human-centered design mindset, it is crucial to cultivate empathy throughout the design process. This involves actively listening to users, conducting thorough research, and engaging in open-minded conversations. By understanding the context, motivations, and challenges of the target audience, designers can create solutions that go beyond aesthetics, focusing on the overall experience and satisfaction of users.


Empathy is a formidable tool in the hands of designers. By embracing a human-centered design mindset, they can revolutionize industries, enhance user experiences, and positively impact society as a whole. The case studies of Airbnb and IDEO demonstrate how empathy can drive innovation and transform lives. Let us harness the power of empathy and work towards creating a more inclusive and people-centric world through design.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Braden Kelley’s Problem Finding Canvas can be a super useful starting point for doing design thinking or human-centered design.

“The Problem Finding Canvas should help you investigate a handful of areas to explore, choose the one most important to you, extract all of the potential challenges and opportunities and choose one to prioritize.”

Image credit: Pixabay

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The Power of Empathy in Driving Innovation

The Power of Empathy in Driving Innovation

GUEST POST from Art Inteligencia

Empathy is a powerful skill that allows individuals to understand and share the feelings of others. While it is often associated with personal relationships and emotional intelligence, empathy also plays a crucial role in driving innovation. By putting themselves in the shoes of their customers, innovators can gain valuable insights and create products and services that truly address their needs and desires. This article explores the impact of empathy in driving innovation through two intriguing case studies.

Case Study 1 – The Airbnb Story

In 2008, Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky were two struggling entrepreneurs in San Francisco, struggling to pay their rent. They decided to rent out some space in their apartment and provide a homemade breakfast for guests. To better understand the needs and experiences of their potential customers, the duo decided to step into their shoes.

To gain empathy, Gebbia and Chesky traveled to New York City and rented out their own space using their platform. They lived with the guests, capturing their reactions, preferences, and pain points. This experience turned out to be crucial in shaping Airbnb’s future success.

The empathy-driven insights helped them understand that people craved authentic, unique experiences when traveling. As a result, they shifted their focus from just renting out spaces to creating an entire marketplace for unique and local accommodations. They incorporated features like personal profiles, reviews, and detailed listings to build a sense of trust and connection between hosts and guests.

By putting themselves in the shoes of their customers, Gebbia and Chesky were able to create a platform that revolutionized the way people travel. Today, Airbnb boasts over 7 million listings worldwide and has become a global leader in the hospitality industry.

Case Study 2 – The Apple Story

Apple, under the leadership of Steve Jobs, is renowned for its innovative products that have shaped the technology landscape. One of the key factors contributing to Apple’s success is its ability to empathize with customers and anticipate their needs, even before they realize them.

When developing the iPod, for instance, Apple recognized that ordinary people found existing MP3 players too confusing and cumbersome. To better understand the user experience, the team at Apple conducted extensive research, observed customers, and put themselves in their shoes.

The insights gathered from this empathetic approach led to the creation of a simple and intuitive interface that revolutionized the way people interacted with portable music players. The iPod’s success paved the way for future innovations like the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch.

By empathizing with customers and anticipating their desires, Apple has consistently introduced groundbreaking products that transcend consumer expectations, reinvent industries, and propel technological advancements.


These case studies highlight how the power of empathy can drive innovation and shape successful business ventures. By understanding the needs, desires, and pain points of customers through empathy, entrepreneurs can develop products and services that truly resonate with their target audience. Furthermore, empathy encourages a user-centric approach, fueling creativity and unlocking new possibilities for innovation.

In a world that is becoming increasingly interconnected and diverse, empathy is not only an essential skill in personal relationships but also a critical catalyst for driving innovation. As businesses strive to stay competitive and relevant, the power of empathy should not be underestimated. It has the potential to transform industries, disrupt markets, and create products and services that truly make a difference in people’s lives.

Image credit: Pexels

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Are Innovation and Empathy in the Cards?

As part of the leadership team for a new human-centered problem-solving offering for select Oracle customers, I’m always on the lookout for new tools to integrate into our flexible problem-solving process to help clients innovate, grow or transform.

Because our dynamic team of experienced professionals has a diverse range of knowledge, skills and abilities we’re able to co-create solutions to a wide range of business challenges and leverage a wide variety of tools. This means I’m always on the lookout for new tools to better serve our clients, in addition to pursuing my hobby of creating new tools and methodologies in my spare time throughout my career.

My passion for empowering others to succeed in overcoming their business challenges has led to the publishing of two business best-sellers Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire (John Wiley & Sons, 2010) and Charting Change (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), and the creation of the powerful, visual and collaborative Change Planning Toolkit™, my Nine Innovation Roles™ card deck, and the Human-Centered Innovation Toolkit™ (featuring tools like The Experiment Canvas™).

I create new tools, methodologies and frameworks when I see opportunities to make people more efficient and effective in their jobs and leverage the work of others when I find others have created good solutions. I leverage the Business Model Canvas for business model prototyping, I leverage The Play-to-Win Strategy Canvas v3.0 to help people work through strategic choices, along with other tools when the challenge is appropriate.

Recently I have been looking at a variety of card decks to evaluate their suitability to use alongside design thinking and other methodologies that form the basis of the Oracle FUEL approach.

Here are a few I’ve been evaluating lately:

Killer Questions Cards

1. Killer Questions – Volume 1 from Phil McKinney, author of Beyond the Obvious and CEO of CableLabs
(More info at https://innovation.tools/)

Brainstorming is a fairly useless exercise the way that most people facilitate it. There are much more effective ways to get ideas and most of the approaches that work better share at their core a more targeted and collaborative approach. The Killer Questions card deck is composed of just that, a collection of questions if left unanswered or unexplored, could lead to blind spots and disruption opportunities for new entrants (or your competition). The questions are categorized into three types:

  1. Who
  2. What
  3. How

And the questions include things like:

  • Who does not use my product because of my assumptions about their skill or ability
  • What emotional, psychological, or status benefits could people derive from using my product?
  • How could users avoid interacting with my product or service but still get the same value?

But the cards don’t just contain a single question. These are examples of guiding questions on the front of a few cards, but on the back of each card you will also find 3-5 supporting questions to help your team explore the guiding question more fully.

Overall, I consider the cards a useful tool for groups including: product teams wanting to continuously stretch themselves as they revaluate product direction, or for expanded innovation teams looking to broaden their search horizons.

Innovation Deck cards by Andrey Schukin

2. The Innovation Deck by Andrey Schukin, CTO at Interprefy AG
(More info at http://www.innovationfast.com/)

Where the Killer Questions deck is organized around questions, The Innovation Deck is organized around topics/tactics and triggers. For each topic/tactic there is either a set of instructions or a set of questions.

The Innovation Deck is composed of three different types of cards that will help you:

  1. Examine
  2. Explore
  3. Evaluate

Examine Card example:


  • People don’t buy things they need. They buy things they want.
  • How do you make sure that the product will trigger an emotional response from the customer?
  • What elements of your product will make the customer want to use it?

I would almost include the triggers cards as a fourth card type, because instead of a topic and questions the cards have a collection of words to see if any of the words inspire thought or conversations rather than giving people a guiding topic or tactic.

Overall, I consider these cards as a useful tool for product teams looking at a product to challenge or stretch the existing product direction for the future.

Nine Innovation Roles cards from Braden Kelley

3. Nine Innovation Roles – a card deck by Braden Kelley, author of Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire
(More info at http://9roles.com)

The following is an excerpt from my book that explains some of the thinking behind The Nine Innovation Roles™:

“Too often we treat people as commodities that are interchangeable and maintain the same characteristics and aptitudes. Of course, we know that people are not interchangeable, yet we continually pretend that they are anyway — to make life simpler for our reptile brain to comprehend. Deep down we know that people have different passions, skills, and potential, but even when it comes to innovation, we expect everybody to have good ideas.

I’m of the opinion that all people are creative, in their own way. That is not to say that all people are creative in the sense that every single person is good at creating lots of really great ideas, nor do they have to be. I believe instead that everyone has a dominant innovation role at which they excel, and that when properly identified and channeled, the organization stands to maximize its innovation capacity. I believe that all people excel at one of nine innovation roles, and that when organizations put the right people in the right innovation roles, that your innovation speed and capacity will increase.”

The Nine Innovation Roles™ are:

  1. Revolutionary
  2. Conscript
  3. Connector
  4. Artist
  5. Customer Champion
  6. Troubleshooter
  7. Judge
  8. Magic Maker
  9. Evangelist

To make my Nine Innovation Roles™ framework accessible to as many people as possible inside organizations all around the world to explore and improve innovation team dynamics and success, I am happy to announce that I have now made the print-ready files for the cards available here for FREE download, and you can either work with the vendor I use – adMagic – or work with a local printer in your part of the world.

LPK Roadblocks Cards

4. LPK Roadblocks by LPK, a brand and innovation consultancy
(More info at https://roadblocks.lpklab.com/)

The LPK Roadblocks deck is focused on innovation roadblocks and helping organizations whose innovation efforts might have stalled, get unstuck. There are six kinds of cards in the deck:

  1. Voting cards
  2. Question cards
  3. Create Your Own Roadblock cards
  4. Organization Roadblocks
  5. Project Roadblocks
  6. Idea Roadblocks

There are two main ways to use the cards, with selection and voting integrated into both:

  1. Root Cause Discovery
  2. Beginning, Middle and End

Organization Roadblocks include things like “Unrealistic Revenue Hurdles” and “Lip-Service Leadership,” while Project Roadblocks including things like “Untested Assumptions” and “Unclear Objectives”, while Idea Roadblocks include things like “Risk/Reward Imbalance” and “No Route to Market.”

Overall, I find these cards to be a useful tool when you run into a client that says they are struggling to innovate or that they’re not innovating as much as they’d like.

Questions & Empathy Cards

5. Questions & Empathy – a card deck by SubRosa, a brand strategy and design practice
(More info at https://www.questionsandempathy.com/)

SubRosa’s Questions & Empathy cards are composed of seven empathy archetype cards and a set of exploratory questions for each archetype. The seven archetypes are:

  1. Sage
  2. Inquirer
  3. Convener
  4. Alchemist
  5. Confidant
  6. Seeker
  7. Cultivator

Overall, I find these cards to be a useful tool for better understanding yourself and your own empathetic style and over time they could help you approach empathy from more angles than you would without them, but I struggle to see as is how they can actually help you practice applied empathy. The archetypes are useful, but I think I might create my own question cards to help my team better apply empathy within the empathize/understand phase of design thinking.


Whether you’re trying to innovate or just to build up your empathy muscles, I hope you see that there are some great, extremely portable resources to help with either. Of course, there are other card decks out there, but these will give you a few to explore and see whether there is a fit for your design thinking or innovation undertakings. If you’re pursuing a digital transformation or business transformation you can:

If you missed the links to the cards decks above, here they are again:

  1. Killer Questions – Volume 1
  2. The Innovation Deck
  3. Nine Innovation Roles (English/Spanish/Swedish)
  4. LPK Roadblocks
  5. Questions & Empathy

Accelerate your change and transformation success

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The Role of Empathy in Human-Centered Design

The Role of Empathy in Human-Centered Design

GUEST POST from Art Inteligencia

The concept of empathy has gained traction in recent years. Empathy is typically defined as the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing and to share their feelings. In the design world, empathy is often heralded as the one tool that can help create truly human-centered designs. This article looks at the role of empathy in the context of human-centered design (HCD) and provides case study examples of companies that have successfully leveraged empathy to design user experiences that truly resonated with their users.

The concept of HCD is built on understanding the user on a deeper level. It is more than just understanding a user’s demographic characteristics or their technical needs. HCD seeks to understand the user’s emotions, their values, and their aspirations. It is an approach that seeks to craft user experiences that are not only practical, but also emotionally rewarding. Empathy is the key tool for unlocking the potential of HCD.

At its heart, empathy is about understanding and caring deeply for users and their experiences. Designers must be willing to go beyond just understanding the technical requirements of a user and instead strive to understand the value they add to their lives. To effectively leverage empathy for HCD, designers must have an understanding of the user that goes beyond just demographics or data points. They must be willing to dive deep into the holistic user experience – from their beliefs to their motivations, their joys and their fears – and create designs that acknowledge all these different facets of a user.

Empathy can be used to create experiences that are tailored to the individual user. Just as different users have different needs and values, different designs can be crafted to address different users’ needs and aspirations. Through this approach, designers can create experiences that are truly tailored to each individual user, and this is the heart of HCD.

To better illustrate how empathy can be used to create human-centered designs, here are two case study examples:

Case Study 1 – Airbnb

Airbnb’s success is largely attributed to its ability to create user experiences that are both practical and emotionally engaging. Through their empathy-driven approach, they have created a platform that deeply connects users with each other and allows for personalized experiences. For example, Airbnb’s “Experience” service provides users the opportunity to explore the cities they visit with unique experiences tailored to their individual interests.

Case Study 2 – Apple

Apple is a company that understands the importance of empathy in design. Their products have long been known for their user-friendly interfaces and thoughtful user experience design. Through their empathy-driven design approach, they have crafted products that are so intuitive to use that they have become a household name.

These case studies demonstrate how the use of empathy in design can result in user experiences that users truly love. By taking the time to understand and honor the individual user, designers can create designs that truly resonate with their users.


Empathy is a powerful tool for design that can be used to create user experiences that are both practical and emotionally rewarding. It is the key to unlocking the potential of human-centered design, and companies such as Airbnb and Apple have demonstrated the immense potential of empathy for creating truly user-centric experiences.

SPECIAL BONUS: Braden Kelley’s Problem Finding Canvas can be a super useful starting point for doing design thinking or human-centered design.

“The Problem Finding Canvas should help you investigate a handful of areas to explore, choose the one most important to you, extract all of the potential challenges and opportunities and choose one to prioritize.”

Image credit: Pexels

Subscribe to Human-Centered Change & Innovation WeeklySign up here to get Human-Centered Change & Innovation Weekly delivered to your inbox every week.