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Mini Empathic Design Workshop 
Date: Wednesday, 10 am to 1 pm PDT  


Google Event URL
Each hangout meeting has a google event page. This is the url to that page.

Hangout URL
click on the link at the time and you should enter the google hangout. 

Video of the workshop will be placed here after it's done

YouTube Video

Click on this link and it will open the meeting workbook as a google doc.
On arrival for the meeting, open the document and write you intention for the course and meeting on the first page.

Meeting Folder
Each meeting has a shared google folder were the material for that meeting can be uploaded. This includes manuals, photos, interviews, etc.


Class 2: Inspiration: Research  

Meeting 4 – Class 2:  Inspiration: Prepare & Conduct Research

Set Meeting Intention:

Our empathy circle intention is to foster an empathic way of being in ourselves, the circle and society.

Intention:  Prepare to do research around testing the empathy circles as a prototype.

Keep learning how to do the HCD process better and improve the empathy circles platform and this online version of the design course.

Goal: Hear people's empathy circle  research reports and work through the Class 2 and plan our research for the next 2 weeks.

Name:    Mercedes
Intention:    Is to learn more about the process of empathic listening and HCD so I can adapt it to the specific needs of the people I work with and help to spread these tool for the benefit of all.
Goal:     Actively participate in empathic listening experiences and facilitating them

Name: Tim    
Intention:    Taking part in the Practice, HCD process - forming views on how to help improve the process...
Goal:     Listen!

01 Questions, Comments, & Takeaways  -  30 mins
Empathy Circle: Reports from Empathy Circle Research and What were your big takeaways about the Class 2 readings?

Mercedes talks to Tim

I feel HCD is more effective when applied to something that is tangible.

how to use on intangibles. like empathy

existing examples are tangible products like toilets.

See a challenge to intangibles.

(Edwin: IDEO say products, service, processes, cultures)

I was interested in working with things I want to promote,

I have paradoxical feelings.

I see a lot of common places between what

I get lost in how to make this happen.

(Edwin: if we follow the course process it will reveal itself)

It is a scary and exciting place to be.

I want to add value to edwin's work. I want to help the circles spread and believe in the work,

it’s more than about hcd, it’s just a tool.   

How can we spread other circles to foster compassion and other values,  etc circles.

I have a need to add value but see and feel a lot of possibilities that this could have a breakthrough for people and will have an impact.

I am in the waters of creativity  - how do I add value and not get frozen in one idea .

Starting to work in this very deep. we need to be with people like you and be face to face and with people are very committed.

The more I work on this the more isolated I feel here where I am.

Talking with like minded people. I’m in a place where this is no

Tim Talks to Edwin

Finds the process and amount of stuff challenging,

Avoid the need to change the process, be more constructive and help

step back a little to be and observant and so the process will not be derailed

The HCD was never intended for designer but to help non-design trained people to get tools for the problem solving . Frustration because important parts of designing are being overlooked

Challenges : the way I can thrive to solve problem, is not the way not professional design people tackled them, Wok them. Is difficult to explain

This process has a lot of ambiguity. Figure out quickly the ambiguity is one thing I do fast.

Is too big and complex to solve in a couple of hours

The amount of information make him what to do something else.

Designing editing process getting rid for everything that is irrelevant.

What are we trying to achieve?

Potential - I see the same as  Mercedes…

Looking at the process within the time line we have does not allow to change the process.

Buying more that we can chew

We have not define what we are here for and what we want to achieve.

The need for context/goal/ no matter what process we go through.

Trying to go with it as much as I can. Noticing there are big kind of issues that for me make the process very difficult and frustrating. No clarity around what we are trying to achieve at the end of the course

Interested to contribute and help in positive way but is difficult because is kind of lose

Edwin talks to Mercedes

Reflects on Mercedes doubts about in tangible - Talks about Ideo applying design to intangibles

Following the steps/path after doing it five times!!!!

Tweaking the mini-design course - Seeing that the course improves by doing it over.


02 Choose Your Design Challenge—15 mins

How might we redesign the  Empathy Circle to foster a more empathic way of being?

Rate the design challenge, then add up your score.

Name:  Edwin

Instinctively, how excited are you about this design challenge?

Least  ( )1   ( )2   ( )3   ( )4   ( )5  (  )6   (x )7   ( )8  ( )9   ( )10 Most

What potential for impact in your community does this design challenge have?

Least  ( )1   ( )2   ( )3   ( )4   ( )5  (  )6   ( )7   (x )8  ( )9   ( )10 Most

How feasible is it to tackle this challenge over the next three classes of the course?

Least  ( )1   ( )2   ( )3   ( )4   ( )5  (  )6   ( )7   ( )8  (x )9   ( )10 Most
Write your thoughts about the challenge and write another one if you like:  
I basically like the challenge but think there could be some way to make it better and perhaps narrow the scope.  In our first team 6 we are looking at how to make empathy circle fun and engaging for high school students.

resists change?

Name:  Mercedes

Instinctively, how excited are you about this design challenge?

Least  ( )1   ( )2   ( )3   ( )4   ( )5  (  )6   ( x)7   ( )8  ( )9   ( )10 Most

What potential for impact in your community does this design challenge have?

Least  ( )1   ( )2   ( )3   ( )4   ( )5  (  )6   ( )7   ( )8  ( )9   (X )10 Most

How feasible is it to tackle this challenge over the next three classes of the course?

Least  ( )1   ( )2   ( )3   ( )4   ( )5  ( x )6   ( )7   ( )8  ( )9   ( )10 Most

Write your thoughts about the challenge and write another one if you like:  

If we define a small “change” based on a part of the process we feel needs other possibilities it might work really well and be exciting.  I like the circle and I am starting to see the benefit, I cannot though get rid of the feeling that is “resisting to be changed” and that makes me back off.

I would go for establishing the bone and and design at least two different ways of tackling in others steps of the circle or adding some that could be used depending on the culture/age or group.

How could we add/modified a step in the circle to allow people to be fully heard and exchange over that experience as a group?  How to make it work for kids?

Name:  Tim

Instinctively, how excited are you about this design challenge?

Least  ( )1   ( )2   ( )3   ( )4   ( )5  (  )6   ( )7   ( X)8  ( )9   ( )10 Most

What potential for impact in your community does this design challenge have?

Least  ( )1   ( )2   ( )3   ( )4   ( )5  (  )6   ( )7   ( X)8  ( )9   ( )10 Most

How feasible is it to tackle this challenge over the next three classes of the course?

Least  ( )1   ( X)2   ()3   ( )4   ( )5  (  )6   ( )7   ( )8  ( )9   ( )10 Most

Write your thoughts about the challenge and write another one if you like:  

The real challenge is in how the course itself is set-up & presented (ie before doing the “project”. As a designer that is where I would start - to get clarity on the course presentation & simplify goals to maximize the usefulness of output. Quality not quantity.


03 Team Knowledge & Assumptions—20 mins  

How might we redesign the  Empathy Circle to foster a more empathic way of being?

What are the aspects of the challenge that you already know a lot about?


I think the empathy circles are, or can be very effective. there is a need for better documentation, perhaps a manual and introductory videos.  

There is a need for different components to add. ie. focusing, metaphor, feelings and needs, arts activities,  building a empathy circle tool kit.  

There is a need to specialize empathy circles  for families, schools, social groups, as support, for specific personal problems, depression, PTSD, suicide, anxiety,  bullying, etc, etc.

 finding tools and approaches that make it address people's possible resistance, anxiety,  or difficulty in taking part.

address the rigid structure issue. explain what the structure is the way it is.


the rigidity. issues


It seems people don’t agree that much to the rigid structure of the circles, and don’t find the system based on rules to be very attractive.I also think that communication meets the most difficulties in human-to-human relationship. for some people it may be difficult to prove to the others that they understand. there should be a set of different approaches that have the capacity to better communication.

Mercedes: I see the benefit and impact of the empathic listening tool, I am concerned about how to adapt it to cultures where this kind of “sharing/therapeutic/self-help groups are not the norm. To rigid

Tim: The Circles get easier with practice - & especially building on familiarity with each other (ie the dynamic changes & gets easier over time). The presentation of info  & process needs a ton of help to be more effective.

What are your assumptions?

Tim: The HCD process takes a lot of “Work”/effort to explain & understand. It is assumed that people will want to read about it (not necessarily the case). It is poorly communicated - could benefit from a more active explanations.

Mercedes:  The structure of the circle seem to be to rigid. How could he make it less rigid without losing the effectiveness and benefits  could be difficult and meet resistant is a challenge. Trying the original pattern and ask about what should be/ or would be  changed could give insights. People with no experience or knowledge of empathy work would avoid participating. There is  a gap between _“this is so needed” to actually participating” . We need to design ways in which engaged people with no experience doing this kind of things to be able to actually see them “experiencing” and give feedback.  Design an introductory workshop

The repetitive process might become boring.  How to make it exciting for kids who move fast from one thing to another, so they stick to the process and the time it takes to “master it”

Lulu:  People should first find empathy attractive. This could be done by empathic listening, or other smaller tools that would sustain the main core which is empathy circles. I think that empathy circles through art could be a solution to both lack of confidence regarding the rules and creating a substructure that would sustain the circles. Moreover, they could improve communication between participants in a way that addresses the soul in a more direct manner. It could make the whole process less stressful and help people get over their anxieties

Edwin- Empathy circles are the best thing in the world.

focusing just on one aspect like active listening to get better at that.

repetitive process -

Where are the aspects of the design challenge where you need to learn more?


how to make it more accessible for people.  how to organize the  material about the research on the empathy circle.  how to create buckets of topics, ie. problems, successes,  specific aspects of the circle.  active /empathic listening. doing a deep dive into the active listening page.

what are other components to add.  and how to do that. empathy circles ans



Resources we already have to get an idea of what can be done, main issues and problems that affect specific groups ( family, school, women, etc) to be able to design , iterate for them in ways we can really make this a day-to-day tool. How to talk about this difficult and complex topics to people who are not used to talk about them to invite people to participate. How to spread the word with organization that could help- facilitate the introduction of the circles and tools.


Need familiarity with the empathy-circle goals to help make them worthwhile for end-users -  to help them understand what the personal and wider benefits are. Figuring out how to toggle between talk/listen & conversation - Conversation enables real-time reflection/ideas.


how to make empathy an attractive concept at a bigger scale, so that people would understand their personal need to develop this kind of behaviour. how to transmit this information in an effective way

the will to want it.

What don’t you know?

Tim: Almost Everything. Almost. Some things aren’t solve-able via a process - they take inspiration, spark & talent - and most of all conversation outside time-limited boundaries.

Edwin:  I second tim's comment.  Beginner's mind.

how to make the circles so overwhelming good and positive that everyone wants to take part in one and use it to improve and deepen their empathy and want to spread it farther around the world.

Lulu: what could get people to develop a positive will towards empathic behaviours (?)


Too much. How to engage people in it and get  help  from other organizations. experts working on it. form groups to research and work the problem outside the circle

Spread and make it a need

How to tackle the difference in “ability to communicate-reflect” to make it comfortable for people and motivating. What other ventures are there about empathy that circle could benefit from the design/goal aspect/

04 Plan Your Research—1+ hours  

A. People to Learn from


ask my family this week.  I’m interested in empathy in the family,

ask my partner joan.

Mercedes:  Fanny Lockhart/ Fatima Hernandez/Young adults I will be working with 21-25 years old.


Tim: Group Members - Santa Cruz NVC

Lulu: colleagues from school/friends. children.

B. Experts to Speak to

Lulu: my priest, pedagogy expert


Jan - School counselor in berkeley - started counseling program with students. do an interview with her.

have 300 interview on my website.

Mercedes: Amelia ( already done)/ Fanny and Fatima/ Father Honneger/ Rosa Garcia/ Catherine Ruggery/ Interviews made by Edwin/ asking Edwing about some people doing similar things in others contexts.

Dominic Barter and Restorative Circles.

(lulu I will highlight what we are talking about.

Tim: My 1:1 Therapist


C. In-Context Immersion Locations

(Precrafted—2+ locations // Personal—4+ locations)

Lulu: faculty of architecture

Edwin:   doing a family empathy circle this weekend.?

Mercedes: Music School/ A Church

Tim: Santa Cruz NVC

Nonviolent Communications

D. Analogous Inspiration Locations

activities, emotions and behaviours

What is the core essence of the empathy circle?

empathy, small groups, learning, growth. turn taking, creativity exercise

Mercedes: How other activities that invite others intangibles inform empathy/ running  workshop/ how could it work with The The Body Center Activities. Moms workshops/ Pasos Foundation people

How do similar concepts are tackled

How the same concept is taught by others ( groups/organizations)

What they aim for in different age groups


Edwin:   empathic listening.. so what are places where people do empathic listening? what to observe.?

a cafe watching the workers talk with customers and customers talking with each other at the tables.

CCARE  stanford compassion training.  an add on.

how to maintain the energy after the groups and in workshops.

emotions and a practical part. accountability

people join groups contained - become  addicted to groups or the guru. people don’t grow..

the need for community. continuity .   building a community.
that is why communication is so important. explain why they should keep coming. design this.  have the spark. so it doesn't’ feel like work.


common understanding of what is good and bad/ right and wrong and rule-making that would help people protect this is what makes a society/community sustainable.

foster communication regarding empathy, give examples, more information

participatory process = inform+consult+involve in the process

mastermind groups. strength and weaknesses.

lulu: how cultural differences affect empathic listening - multicultural spaces / case study migrants

different types of communication - through music, drama, dance,...

age difference: is it easier for the younger to listen to the older or the other way around


  • Expat Support (esp around repatriation)

  • Integrating with other psychotherapy group support eg DBT

  • Political Debate!

  • Combined online with live group settings (hybrid groups)

Intellectual vs Emotional (- need both).

05 Build an Interview Guide— 20 min

We have the beginnings of an interview guide here.

Open General

What are some broad questions you can ask to open the conversation and warm people up?


Then Go Deep

What are some questions that can help you start to understand this person’s hopes, fears,


what is something you are afraid to ask/ tell about/ or feel as you only experience it/ when you feel overlooked/ situations/ places/people. what open s you up/ when you find yourself doing uncommon things / when you feel disrespected or pushed/

What do you want the other to know/ If the other would ,know you really know you, what would they be able to understand

How do we break the barrier of fields/culture or personal ways of dive into things? Different approaches to things?


Really go deep into the aspects of empathic listen..create a map of the landscape of it.  Create a framework of the dynamics of empathic listening, the benefits, difficulties, feelings, etc, and Then ask questions about it.

  • What is the feeling of empathic listening?

  • how is it benefiting you?



What is the best thing you have never done?

What is the best thing that ever happened to you?

What is the best thing about your closest friend?/the person that you trust the most?

How often do you have the feeling of really being understood by others?   

What do you think inhibits people from really understanding each other?

How comfortable do you find yourself with opening up to others about problems that really affect you? Explain/ Why is that?