You and your team have been asked to observe a place where people exchange ideas, help help, transact business, or interact with their environment in some way. The client wants you to improve the “client experience” in the particular situation. Spend about ten minutes observing the environment. You must collect data (given circumstances) and identify particular problems. Choose one of the issues you discover and, using the creative process, come up with possible solutions. Draw and/or describe your proposals.

Empathy Maps:

You’ve gone into the field in search of knowledge, meeting people on their home turf, watching and listening intently. Now synthesize all that data by creating an “empathy map”.

TOOL: Empathy Map

PARTICIPANTS: Groups of four people

SUPPLIES: Whiteboard or large flip chart, Post-its, and pens


On a whiteboard or a large flip chart, draw a four-quadrant map. Label the sections with “say,” “do,” “think,” and “feel,” respectively.

Write down each of your key observations from the field on one Post-it note and populate the “say” and “do” quadrants. Try color-coding, for example, using green Post-its for positive statements and actions, yellow for neutral, and pink or red for frustrations, confusion, or pain points.

When you run out of observations (or room) in those quadrants, begin to fill the “think” and “feel” sections with Post-its, based on the body language, tone, and choice of words you observed. Use the same color coding.

Take a step back and look at the map as a whole. What insights or conclusions can you draw from what you’ve written down. What seems new or surprising? Are there contradictions or disconnects within or between quadrants? What unexpected patterns appear? What, if any, latent human needs emerge?

Suggested places to for your group to observe:

Crossing Bowdoin Street

The Registrar’s/ Bursars’s office

The Capitol Coffee Shop

The Suffolk Bookstore in the Sargent Building

The cafeteria in 73 Tremont

The Somerset cafeteria

The Suffolk Book Store on Tremont Street

Office of Academic Advising

The Tedeschi’s Market on Cambridge Street

The Dunkin Donuts on Beacon Street

The Office of Diversity Services

The Financial Aid Office in Donohue

The park on the Bowdin St. side of the Statehouse

The Suffolk Library

Empathy map links:

Empathy Maps