I recently came across this video by Chris Colbert, Director of Harvard's i-Labs, on Empathy and Innovation. Since then I've watched and shared it more times than I can count, and his quote "Empathy is the source code of innovation" has become a handy slide for many a presentation.
I'm an empathetic being by nature. I never tried to be -- in fact probably quite the opposite. When others' tears make you have to hold back your own, you can start to question whether being overly empathetic is a blessing or a curse.
Over time, however, I've realized that my capacity for empathy has helped align and propel my career as a design strategist forward. Empathy, or "the ability to understand and share the feelings of another," is now one of the most useful tools I bring to work every day. Without empathy, we design products in an echo chamber. We create what we think the world needs, vs what we know our customers need.
It's no surprise that -- over time -- I've found myself playing the role of facilitator in many instances. I've found that the space between the business and the user is very important, and that serving as some sort of value-exchange interpreter should be part of the job description.
I believe it's empathy that drives me towards this space, and that makes me effective in it. And I, too, believe that empathy is the source code of innovation.