But to Michael Ventura, CEO of the New York design firm Sub Rosa, one of the most powerful tools businesses have is actually a basic human skill: empathy.
"The objective at most agencies is to find information that meets the client's needs, and as it gets further along in the process, you start to think about the customer," Ventura
"At Sub Rosa
, we hear the objectives of the client, then we go to the complete other end of the spectrum, and really understand the customer; what their behaviors are like, and we work backwards using a strong sense of empathy."
calls the process "empathic design," and he
will describe it Thursday, October 9, at 4:30 p.m. at the Keller Center at Princeton University
The lecture is part of the center's Creative Mind: Innovation, Design & Entrepreneurship lecture series.
For more information, visit www.kellercenter.princeton.edu.
, empathic design is all about understanding the behaviors and emotions of a customer, and figuring out what kinds of relationships and memories you want to create for them as a business.
asked us to redesign the mammography experience," Ventura
"That's one of the most daunting things you could do.
The project began with the challenge of understanding what exactly was going to have to happen to make this experience better."
, working with research firm IDEO
, studied the entire experience, beginning with booking the appointment.
They interviewed hundreds of women and analyzed the results.
As the interviews went on, Ventura
began to realize the unpleasantness of getting a mammogram started well before a patient showed up at the office.
"It turns out it feels like an appointment with death for many women," he
Wondering why that was the case, Ventura
visited the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
and discovered the room was indeed always kept at a chilly 65 degrees, a climate that calls for a sweater, not a hospital gown.
"We checked with the hospital administration, and they didn't know why the rooms were kept at 65 degrees, just that GE
had told them it had to be that way.
We talked to the engineers at GE
, and they said 65 degrees is the best temperature for the machines.
No one throughout that process was an advocate for empathy.
No one understood that was actually a cold room," Ventura
grew up in Bergen County, where his
father was the second-generation owner of the family fuel business.
mother was a child psychologist.
agency 10 years ago right out of college.
"I really am the perfect merger of those two things when I think about it," he
says, referring to his
parents' occupations and noting that Sub Rosa
deals with business, but also with understanding people.
"Empathic design begins with understanding the customer who's going to experience your project at the end of the day," Ventura