Here’s Mr. Smithery himself John V. Willshire with a nice idea for bringing empathy mapping to life with LEGO Minifigs.
I commented on it, here it is.
I’ve tried empathy mapping a few times in the past, not with minifigs though (lovely idea). I think this is a brilliant way of engaging organisations in thinking critically about their customers- lots of room for serendipity, it gets people thinking outside of their day-to-day habits and constraints and most importantly it’s massive fun. Where I think it this has limitations is that it can compound our assumptions about customers which are surfaced in the nature of the characters* but without being challenged, these assumptions can be taken on board as fact and accepted by the group.
I would definitely think this approach could be improved by having your participants meet a handful of real customers before this activity maybe in a World Cafe approach or a ‘speed dating’ kind of format where they get to learn as much as possible about people within a short amount of time.
I realise, like you mentioned on twitter, that it’s difficult in some circumstances to get people to talk openly about particular topics. But I think this is worth over-coming. I’ve had these kinds of conversations with highly personal topics from puberty to finance to cancer and I’ve found people to be ridiculously open when you approach them in the right way e.g. explain why their opinion matter to you.
Anyway, that’s my two pence. I don’t mean to be too critical of what is essentially an excellent approach.
*now this is useful, if we can develop ways of surfacing assumptions in order to convert them into hunches, then that’s progress.
Feels a bit odd quoting myself but there you go.