Mark, the ice cream vendor who spends lots of time outdoors, NEEDS A WAY TO incorporate sun protection
into his work routine.
Toolkit: Empathize and Define
I. Guidelines for Interviewing
These guidelines will help you set the tone for the interview and get the most out of it.
1. You may bring a few prepared questions, but the most important thing is to maintain a connection with the
interviewee and show that you are listening to what they are saying (ie, look at them, not just at your notes). Also,
you should always follow up on interesting answers, instead of mechanically moving through a list of questions.
2. Take notes or record the interview. Capture on paper the person’s own words whenever possible, instead of
rephrasing during the interview. If you record the audio of the interview (with permission), you will need to extract
quotes from the recording later.
3. Start the interview by introducing yourself and the project you are working on, and start with lighter, more
general questions to establish a connection and put the interviewee at ease.
4. Listening is as important as talking (your interviewee should talk about 75% of the time). Also, showing that
you are really interested in what the other person has to say goes a long way. Think of the interview as a
5. Ask open-ended, non-leading questions: “What do you think about that school?” is a better question than
“Don’t you think that school is great?” The former doesn’t imply there is a right answer.
6. Be curious and ask “why?” often, even when you think you know the answer. Many answers will surprise you.
Always follow up on answers that sound interesting, or whenever the interviewee says “I think...” A good way of
doing this, in addition to asking “Why?” is to say “Tell me more about that.”
7. Ask for stories about concrete events. Instead of asking people how do they "usually" do things or how do
they "usually" feel, ask them about the last time they did something, or the most memorable moment (in fact, do
NOT use “usually” at all).
8. Don’t be afraid of silence. Resist the need to ask another question when there is a pause. The interviewee might
reflect on what he/she has just said and say something deeper.
*Bonus points* If you have access to observing someone during an event that is relevant to the challenge (for
instance, writing a resume, looking for jobs on the internet, etc.) and can talk to them while observing them in
action, that would be extremely valuable to get insights about the challenge from the point of view of that person.
Demo interviews on the EMPATHY forum
The value of different types of questions on the EMPATHY forum
Interviewing for Introverts: http://ethnographymatters.net/2012/03/22/interviewing-for-introverts/
II. Guidelines for the Empathy Map
Using the Empathy Map framework you will process what happened in the interview, make inferences about the
thoughts and feelings of the person based on what they said, and connect the dots to identify a need or problem
he/she has related to the challenge.
We suggest that you spend about 20 to 30 min creating the empathy map (longer if you need to transcribe an audio
recording of the interview).
Go through the sections of the empathy map in this order:
SAY section. Write down here all the quotes from the interview that catch your attention as you review your notes.
Be as literal as possible (as opposed to rephrasing what they said in your own words).
DO section (optional). If you observed the person in action, describe here behaviors you saw. You can also
combine interview and observation, by asking the person to walk you through what they are doing. **Note that you
may not have anything in this section if you did not have the chance to do observations**
THINK and FEEL sections. Here is where you will make inferences (educated guesses) about the meaning of
what the person said. What if you are wrong? You may very well be, but if you don’t take a leap and make
inferences, you won’t get at deep unexpected needs. At later stages in the process you will get more data that will
allow you to refine your understanding and definition of the problem.
III. Guidelines for the Problem Statement
With the problem statement, you encapsulate concrete problems related to the challenge for the person you
interviewed. In the next stage (IDEATE - next week), you will creatively solve them.
Since the person you are designing for might not articulate any needs/problems related to the challenge (these
would be implicit needs), it’s your job to make educated guesses about those needs, based on the stories and data
you gathered in the interview.
Write Problem Statements in this form:
STAKEHOLDER needs a way to ________(PROBLEM/NEED)____ Because ____(INSIGHT)_____
STAKEHOLDER: Here you should describe the person you are designing for (one you interviewed). Use at least
5 adjectives to describe that person. Make sure you add enough information to paint a picture of the person
to someone who has not met him/her (“A detailed-oriented, reliable, degree-holding accountant, who is curious and
able to work in teams, as well as collaborative and creative”).
PROBLEM/NEED: Use VERBS instead of NOUNS to define the problem/need. Nouns are often already
solutions: as an example, contrast “Joe needs a better pencil” with “Joe needs a better way to write” or “Joe needs a
better way to capture data.” In the first case the solution is already implied in the problem statement, so there is
only opportunity for incremental innovation. In the latter frames, there is an opportunity to come up with
innovative solutions that may go beyond an improved pencil.
INSIGHT: Here you provide a justification for the need you stated. The insight often comes from connecting the
dots between different elements on the empathy map.
In order to get a good Problem Statement, craft more than one and then select one that is not too narrow (eg, Joe
needs to get a job as accountant) nor too broad (Joe needs a way to improve his career) to continue the process.
Here is a template that contains and Empathy Map and Problem Statement:
1. PDF (Slideshare): http://www.slideshare.net/EpicenterUSA/dtal-template-empathy-map-and-problem-statement
2. Prezi: http://prezi.com/emjizfk53ex-/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy&rc=ex0share
Last updated by Leticia Britos Cavagnaro (Course Instructor) 6 days ag
Go to school, get your degree, get a job. Does this traditional path from education to employment make sense today for
the hundreds of millions of learners around the world? Let's find out using the design thinking process.
Your challenge is to redesign the school-to-work transition.
We are giving you this widely framed challenge because the design thinking approach starts with exploring the problem
space. You will be focusing on the perspective of one person of your choosing who has an important stake in the school-to-
work path: he/she might be a student who will soon graduate or has recently graduated and is looking for work. Or an
employer seeking to hire someone. Or an educator. There are many possible stakeholders and perspectives. And, since
there are thousands of people in the course working on the same challenge, it will be exciting to see what common themes
emerge, and the diversity of situations around the world.
Our philosophy is to learn by doing, and our goal in this course is for you to experience the design thinking process first-
hand through your work on this challenge. To help you do this, we will spend the next three weeks breaking down different
aspects of the challenge, such as identifying a problem, generating ideas and testing them.
Here is the roadmap for the challenge:
This week - Empathize and Define: You’ll learn to examine the challenge through different lenses and stakeholders. Talking
to these stakeholders and learning about their perspectives will help you discover unique problems you will be able to
Next week - Ideate: Now that you’ve identified an interesting problem that reflects the need of one of these stakeholders,
we’ll show you how to generate a wide range of solutions.
Week after that - Prototype and Test: We’ll walk you through creating fast, simple prototypes that make your solutions
tangible in order to test how they work.
With thousands of engaged members, this class is the largest design thinking team in the world. Our diverse backgrounds
and experiences will allow us to approach this big challenge from many angles, while we learn new strategies. We can’t wait
to hear about your experience tackling the challenge. Let’s dive right in!
This week’s assignment is about developing empathy for someone who has a stake in the school-to-work transition, and
defining a problem or need (*) he/she has related to the challenge.
The work for this week’s assignment is divided in four sequential steps:
1. Prepare for the empathy work.
2. Go out and talk to people.
3. Process the data gathered via interviews using an Empathy Map.
4. Craft a problem statement.
(*) Note that we often use the terms PROBLEM or NEED interchangeably. With both, we are referring to some aspect of the
experience of a person that can be improved (this problem/need may not always be perceived or articulated by that person,
that is, it may be implicit).
Step 1. Prepare for the empathy work.
Start by determinining who you might interview (a student, a graduate, an employer, etc.) and think of questions or areas of
conversation for the interview. It is strongly suggested that you interview more than one person (2-3), to then select one
interview to move forward.
If you need inspiration to think about who to interview and what questions to ask, go to the EMPATHY FORUM, and look for
the CHALLENGE MINDMAP thread.
Step 2. Go out and talk to people.
If this is the first time you will be interviewing someone, don't worry! This is NOT the typical formal interview that often
comes to mind. Think of it… More »
You need to submit both the EMPATHY MAP and PROBLEM STATEMENT in one assignment.
** Please note that this assignment has PEER REVIEW, so the progress bar for it will only stay at 50% when you submit, and
that's OK. AFTER the deadline, we will explain how the peer review works and, as you complete that part, the bar for this
assignment will go to 100%**
The format to submit this assignment can be:
1. Powerpoint (ppt or pptx file) - NOTE: it can be more than one slide.
2. pdf - - NOTE: it can be more than one page.
4. text/images in the text box.
For (1) and (2) you’ll need to upload to slideshare (*) or other hosting service (see submission instructions).
In all cases you will use the “media” button and paste the appropriate link ***for WIDTH you may use 500***
(*) Note: Slideshare accepts the following formats (you can use any of those as alternatives to ppt or pdf):
Presentations: pdf, ppt, pps, pptx, ppsx, pot, potx (Powerpoint); odp (OpenOffice)
Documents: pdf, doc, docx, rtf (MSOffice); odt, ods(OpenOffice)
We created a template of Empathy Map + Problem Statement you may use, adapt, or take as inspiration to create your
own. Feel free to be creative, and use images as well (… More »
Submit your assignment by Aug 5th.
Read the evaluation criteria and rubrics.
Evaluate your peers' work between Aug 6th and Aug 12th.
Review your assignment feedback after Aug 12th.
View all submissions after Aug 5th.