March 3, 2017 -

Killer Ops: Empathy Maps

Empathy Maps

by Kevin Gepford

What This Is Gleans the juicy parts from your interviews to show what challenges your team, and what they see, think, feel, and hear.

Why it Matters Brings home the pain and aspirations of the people you work with and shows you the things that your Future Creative Ops might be able to resolve.

You’ve done the same during your interviews and persona development — uncovering numerous pain points within your team. Product Managers put a lot of effort into learning more about their customers to glean insights about their pains, needs and problems. This brings focus to the development of their product or app.

In Their Shoes

They’ve shared with you their experiences with your “tech stack”, as well as what it’s like being part of the “human stack”. Both these stacks support (and sometimes interfere with) getting the work done. Yet, they may not have a clear idea of what they want. But you’re taking notes, identifying trends, and finding common goals and themes. To put yourself in their shoes.

Empathy maps distill and organize this qualitative data by charting it out. Like a user persona, empathy maps can represent a group of users. It’s OK to exaggerate these themes (without becoming ridiculous) to make your point.

Product Managers Use empathy maps to focus on their customers’ problems in order to create a product that solves it. The empathy map helps the app team zoom out from focusing on behaviors to consider the users’ emotions and experience. Typically, research notes are categorized based on what the research interviewees were thinking, feeling, doing, seeing, and hearing as they engaged with your product.

Creative Ops uses empathy maps to identify specific pain points within your process, team structure, and technology. By necessity, your empathy maps will cut across a broader swath of types — staffers, managers, and constituents — roughly aligned to the main role groups in your team.

Our take on the Empathy Map focuses on

Think and Feel: What’s important to your staffers? What are they sensitive for? Do they have work-related hopes and dreams?

Hear: What influences the person? Who is talking to them and swaying their opinions (Yay office gossip!)

Say and Do: Who do they interact with during their work day? How do they spend their time?

See: When they are exhibiting the pain, what do they say? What does their work environment look like? What could be a distraction?

Pain and Gain: What obstacles or challenges do they face? What do they hope to achieve, and how might they measure success?

Then you draw the map.

Here’s an example

Empathy Map for Creative Ops

Download and Complete Your Own Empathy Map worksheet


Empathy maps lead directly into identifying the pain points of your tech stack, and human stack, that you can tackle.

Resources & Inspiration

Agile Coaching Tip: What Is an Empathy Map?
by David Bland

How to Use Persona Empathy Mapping
by Nikki Knox

About the Killer Ops series:

How can creative teams increase their Value Proposition? How can they become better strategic partners in the organization? Following the entrepreneurial model of Product Development, creative teams – and organizations – can learn to think and act like a startup, to develop a framework for continuous innovation, improved operations, and greater success.

Published by: Kevin Gepford in Creative Ops, Part of a Series