Empathy Maps

“Good design is grounded in a deep understanding of the person for whom you are designing. Designers have many techniques for developing this sort of empathy. An Empathy Map is one tool to help you synthesize your observations and draw out unexpected insights.”

-d.School Method Cards, Institute for Design at Stanford

Empathy Maps are useful tools in allowing us to gain a richer understanding of the lives of our user(s); what are their lives like; what is important to them; what do they need and want? Having this level of understanding is key for effective design. As a group you might like to map your users’ key issues and insights relevant to your developing design concepts to ensure you are considering both the intrinsic and wider impacts that your ideas and solutions may have within your chosen GHC theme.

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Team OAPortunity use an empathy map to better understand the people they are designing for

Some great resources:

d.School Empathy Map Method Card

Nesta’s Empathy Mapper template

Strategyzer’s Customer Value Proposition Canvas

Using Change Cards to Consider Your Challenge

In a previous post we shared some advice and links to helpful resources on how to go out about framing the challenge your team is working on.  Once you’ve done this you might  find it useful to start to look at your challenge from different perspectives and one way you can do this is to use a set of change cards like the ones shared below developed by the Policy Lab.  These change cards are framed around six categories and you can use them to collectively explore your challenge further and to develop and deliver your project.  As you work through them they might inspire your team to frame some other questions and create your own change cards that can help shape and inform how you respond to the challenge you are addressing.  As you work through these cards you’ll find they get you thinking about how these challenges might be addressed in other locations, how different groups might approach the challenge and consider how you can be resourceful.


This second presentation from the Policy Lab gives an overview of the methods it adopts in its work with civil servants and others to help encourage more open and innovative strategies to developing policy and tackling different issues and challenges.    The Policy Lab makes effective use of user centred design-based approaches  to innovate and understand the problems individuals face and address these problems.  You’ll notice that the presentation talks about challenge setting, something we’re encouraging you to do by framing your challenge.  Another important concept presented here, which is relevant to all the challenges, is to consider and define different personas for the individuals affected by the problem you’re addressing.  This process helps you to build empathy with the people your project will be helping and to start you thinking about the journeys people take as they interact with different services and identify where things could be improved.

Loneliness and Social Isolation in Older People

Loneliness is a distressing subjective psychological experience that may arise when an individual perceives a discrepancy in the quantity and quality of their social relationships. (It is possible for some to feel ‘alone in a room full of people’). Social isolation is the objective absence of social relationships and connectedness. Individuals experiencing social isolation may require practical help and resources (e.g. transport) whereas those experiencing loneliness may benefit from more social support and extended social networks.

People of all ages and circumstance are susceptible to loneliness and social isolation but older adults may be more vulnerable due to various age related changes or decline in health, mobility and social contacts or activities. 10% of UK adults aged 65 years and over are reported as feeling lonely all of the time and 40% name television as their primary source of company. Other risk factors include having cognitive or sensory impairment(s), being an older carer, having little or no contact with neighbours and living alone. Loneliness and isolation carry various health consequences (biological dysfunctions, psychological upset or behavioural issues) and individuals experiencing loneliness may develop negative habits such as excessive smoking, over eating and alcohol dependency. Many lonely people experience high blood pressure, sleep problems, anxiety, depression and cognitive decline and individuals who are lonely are 64% more likely to develop dementia than individuals who are not.

Noted strategies in tackling loneliness and isolation include improving social skills, enhancing social support, increasing opportunities for social interaction, and addressing poorly adaptive social cognition. But for those hard-to-reach individuals, who may feel discouraged in actively seeking support due to the stigma associated with loneliness and social isolation or who may be unaware of the services and support available to them, creative, innovative solutions are required. This challenge is an exciting opportunity to apply your skills and design for this highly impactful social issue.

Some Resources:

The Campaign to End Loneliness 

‘How societies can grow old better’ Jared Diamond, TED Talk

Elderly men and Social Isolation, Sky News 

‘1 in 5 Elderly have no-one to turn to’, BBC

‘Age of Loneliness’, Sue Bourne for BBC

‘Who is lonely and when?’, Prof Christina Victor

Inspiring Projects & Enterprises:

Nana’s Community Cafe, Nesta Ageing Well Challenge 2013

Nesta Ageing Well Challenge 2013 Prize finalists




Framing the Challenge

This first week is about exploring and one of the first tasks is to frame your team’s challenge. A number of questions were created during last week’s Barcamp which should help you to do this. We encourage all of the teams to build on this work, to explore more, conduct further research and continue engaging in mindful conversation with your partner organisation and facilitators.

We know that framing a challenge can be tough but we also know, that when it’s done right, it can inspire everyone who is involved to thoroughly search for creative solutions. Here are some resources to help you think about framing your challenge:

IDEO.ORG DesignKit: Frame Your Design Challenge
Available at: http://www.designkit.org/methods/60
Accessed 23 October 2016.

VanGundy, A. B. (2005) The Care and Framing of Strategic Innovation Challenges.
Available at: http://www.staffs.ac.uk/sgc1/faculty/business-project-management/documents/VanGundyFrameInnov.pdf
Accessed: 23 October 2016.

Curious Minds

Venturing into the unknown

Wednesday 16th October 2016 was an auspicious day at Dundee University. All nine Schools from across the campus came together for the first time, committed to looking at new ways of working to solve some of the most pressing health and social care challenges of our time. With 36 fresh thinking students from Art and Design, Dentistry, Education and Social Work, Humanities, Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, Life Sciences, Science and Engineering, Social Sciences, and support from six local organisations – Amino, Deaf Hub, DialOp, Hearing Voices, Homeless Populations and PAMIS – we ventured forward as a new, ambitious collective!

We pitched up at the School of Art & Design in the heart of the campus, and used the BarCamp method to kick-start our work. Why BarCamp? It is an ‘unconference‘; a meeting where everyone can contribute, where everyone can present a topic and generate a discussion (Azzimonti et al, 2015). Mindful that people would be meeting each other for the first time, and had no previous experience of working together, our aim for Day 1 of the project was simple: to enable everyone to develop an understanding of the project, as well as an understanding of each other and the creative process about to be undertaken.

The subject demands agility, critical thinking and teamwork; the project is time sensitive (with only four sessions out with the induction) and so, in setting the scene we talked about the importance of curiosity – of accepting we don’t have all of the answers, of venturing into the unknown together, and leading the navigation into unchartered waters with questions.

With jazz playing in the background, 6 hours of dynamic conversation and questioning pursued, ending in six self selecting teams to work on an issue of their choice and with an organisation of their choice.  Here’s a visual snapshot of Day 1 #UoDGHC16 :

GHC Blog Image_day 1

Welcome to the Global Health Challenge

Welcome to the University of Dundee Global Health Challenge (GHC). Over at 5-week period (18th October – 15th November 2017)  we will be running our first set of GHC projects as students from across our academic schools come together to consider and address seven local health related challenges.  We kick off the GHC17 on Wednesday 18th October by introducing our challenge sponsors and our seven challenges which touch on ageing and social isolation, deafness, learning disabilities, homelessness, mental health and refugees.

We’ll be updating the blog over the next 6 weeks with updates on our kick-off session and the development of our student led projects.

Click here to apply for this year’s Global Health Challenge.