After practicing a lean start-up in a workshop, it’s time to put another layer to that foundation. This past week has been all about a new level of experience. A level called empathy.
During my time in the academic world so far, I’ve been told time and time again that the needs and wants of the consumers are the primary source of product development. Hence, we should always turn the world upside down to understand what they want. The same time and time again I agreed with my teachers’ valid point. This time, I’ve actually taken a step more. During the past week the MACE students from Kingston University have performed two experiments.
1. Being in the shoes of an impaired person. I had was blind-folded and escorted to the bathroom of the university’s business building by a pretending hearing-impaired classmate. I could imagine it was a daunting thing to be blind, but I never expected what I was about to feel. The biggest shock was going down the stairs. I was so scared thinking were do they begin? Where do the steps end? Then I was always reaching to the front trying to feel the world around me: people, walls, doors, objects. My third observation is that I felt lost. I couldn’t tell direction anymore. And this was for what purpose? Going to the bathroom escorted in a building I knew. What if I were alone outside? I challenge anyone reading to try this once. Then the word “empathy” will have a whole new meaning for you.
2. Observing people use the world around them, or actually students using the library, using their cards to access the barriers, to print, to borrow books. Using the books to study for their papers. Using the printers to print their papers. Breaking the rules. Using other people. There is something particularly interesting in observing how people have expectations and the way they use their environment without realising any step. It is even more gratifying to watch them when their expectations are not met. Be creative enough and you’ll find a different method to meet them. Just think differently.
With that advice and an open mind you might invent a new wheel. Or something else to get you there. After all, you buy the drilling machine for the hole, not the machine.