T and Empathy

the Subway Project


Take some trips on a couple of different subway lines with your team-mates: ride on the trains, walk around the stations, try to buy a ticket, imagine a crisis, watch how the riders interact, both successfully and unsuccessfully, with the subway system, even interview them directly. Use your phone to take photos, record audio, or take video. Develop a rich library of experiences and rider reactions to the T—what works and what doesn't.

Bring your data back and sort through it by making an “empathy map” as we did in class with post-it notes in each of four quadrants: Say, Do, Think, Feel.

Now that you have your experiences mapped, use the creative process to work through the project.

Based on the organization of your empathy map, discuss what can be improved for the riders' experience. Sort down from the large group of data in order to come to an agreement about a particular issue (or closely related issues) regarding the subway riders' “customer experience” that you see needs improving: identify the problem. Once you have identified the issue you want to tackle, go back and gather more specific data: take more photos, notes, voice memos, videos, etc. of the specific issue and clearly identify the given circumstances of the situation.

As a group, using an open idea generation process, you should synthesize and prototype some ideas to come up with some possible solutions. You should bring what you have worked on to class in order to get feedback and continue working in class. Evaluate, reiterate, and refine your ideas in order to come up with a presentation of the issue and your proposed solution to present to the class. You must clearly identify the given circumstances and the ways in which you used the creative process to come up with your solution.

I'm looking for creative, innovative solutions from a fresh perspective. Be bold. Take risks. Think big. Work as a team. Do whatever it takes. Develop a convincing presentation.

There is no “set” way to do the presentation. Use photos, drawings, research, mock-ups, models, demonstrations—anything to make your solution and the presentation as compelling and creative as possible.

Group presentation