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The Disconnected Human

In this mini-series we look at the phenomenon of paradox and some of the prominent ones in our social world. Today we look at human disconnection in the face of mass-urbanization, globalization, social media and information technology and why so many feel so isolated in a world pushing ever-more interconnection. It is possible to have […]

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Bullying, the market for education and the damaged quest for learning

A recent study found looked into the experience of cyberbullying by university professors at the hands of their students. This disturbing phenomenon points to much larger issues beyond mental health promotion and calls into question many of the assumptions we have about the systems we’ve designed to foster education and what it means to be a […]

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Integrative Thinking And Empathy in Systems

Award-winning Canadian author and University of Toronto professor David Gilmour came under social/media fire for comments made about his stance of only including male, middle-aged writers in his list of readings for his undergraduate English courses because that is the experience he resonates with most. Drawing on what you know is both wise and foolish when looking at it from the perspective of systems change and by looking within and beyond our own boundaries we can see how.

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Design Thinking, Design Making

Designing and thinking
Critics of design thinking suggest that it forgets making while advocates suggest that it extends itself beyond the traditional constraints of design’s focus on the brief. What separates the two is still the implications associated with making something and the question: can we be good designer thinkers without being design makers? This post looks at the relationship between design thinking and making.

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Designing for Empathy and Health

When does common sense make little sense? How do we sense-make evidence when it seems to make little sense? The answers could lie in getting inside the heads of those we seek to influence and designing our communications for empathy and health. Evidence in public / health Last week there was a brief uproar in […]

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Marketing Metaphors of Meaning in Complexity

Marketing is largely about identity and stories about identity. Marketers want to influence what you do (choose, use, purchase, etc..) and how you experience what you do when you do it. To do this, they know the importance of design and the stories to accompany that design. Design, when done well, is partly about creating empathy with those who are to benefit from the products of design and the best products out there are ones that apply empathy and guide behaviour at the same time. Storytelling is the vehicle that links them together.

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Empathy: The Ultimate Design + Systems Challenge

Empathy is a central feature of good human-centred design, yet is often practiced narrowly. Visualization with systems thinking and mindfulness are three additional features that can transform empathy from a simple tool to a vehicle for transformation by connecting us less to absolute problems and more to relative ones. In today’s Globe and Mail newspaper […]

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Systems Thinking and the Design of Empathy

A developmental design approach means shifting and changing over time and designing things in a manner that adjust to the complexities associated with dynamic systems. It brings together complexity, systems, design and the detailed feedback mechanism that comes through developmental evaluation. Leadbeater’s grid helps add to this concept by giving a focus to the development, from one level of empathy to another and one systemic scale to another.

Through thinking in systems and acting through design, perhaps then we can create the kinds of services and organizations that respond to the challenges we face.

And designing for empathy will help us know when we’ve achieved it.

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Trying to Innovate? Try Empathy

Find and build a tribe of people who you trust and like and spend time with them, get to know them, and invite new people in whenever possible to mix things up. If that is the case, then the way we work in the health and wellness sector is surely in trouble where we don’t curate information and customize our knowledge for others, and we don’t support the kind of relationship building that equates to robust knowledge translation.

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Building Empathy and Other Odd Concepts

Empathy and compassion involve using your heart. Critical inquiry about empathy means using your brain to see the concept more clearly in terms of its purpose. Having the courage to put these into practice in a professional realm and the optimistic hope that we can do this to make things better for everyone is not just a fantasy, but a possibility. In doing so, we can make these real, important concepts more meaningful in a real sense, not in some marketing, feel-good speak that we have now. By being much more authentic, we’ll also help build the credibility of these methods and ideas beyond design and beyond health.

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