Andreea-Daiana Zavate and Krasimira Bozhinkova
Integrating methods and practices into the transformative processes of systems design play a key role in deciding their value and future impact. As the challenges become increasingly complex and interwoven, they require an interdisciplinary approach to empathy to enable collaboration, creativity, and purposeful innovation. This activity session will demonstrate a new and unique tool for empathy, Active Empathy, and its core concept – the empathy gap. Active empathy is a collaborative tool grounded in design-driven methodologies to build deeper connections between various stakeholders and blur preconceived boundaries that hinder sustainable action. The intention is to reduce the empathy gaps between designers and stakeholders and introduce an empathic platform for systems design (Active Empathy, 2022). To do that, the participants will work with one of the components of the empathy gap – the priority gap. They will discover different aspects and develop ideas on reducing them in the context of the given challenge – “activating empathy in the hybrid world.” Design can no longer be reserved for designers if the aim is to achieve better system impact. As designers and people, we must encourage the empathic flow in favour of meaningful exchanges to tackle complex needs, solve pressing issues, and provide long-term value. The current state of systems design is infused with proactive initiatives that need strong shared language and purpose to improve the conditions for life on the planet. We advocate for a bolder approach to connecting people and systems through the direct experience of empathy as a cycle of activities based on discovery, learning, sharing, and acting.
KEYWORDS: Systems design, systemic design, designers, stakeholders, empathy, empathy gap, active empathy, collaboration, design activities, design-driven methodologies