Emi Kolawole

Editor-in-Residence, Stanford University d.school

“I can’t come up with any new ideas if all I do is exist in my own life.”

Empathy is the capacity to step into other people’s shoes, to understand their lives, and start to solve problems from their perspectives. Human-centered design is premised on empathy, on the idea that the people you’re designing for are your roadmap to innovative solutions. All you have to do empathize, understand them, and bring them along with you in the design process.

Immersing yourself in another world not only opens you up to new creative possibilities, but it allows you to leave behind preconceived ideas and outmoded ways of thinking. Empathizing with the people you’re designing for is the best route to truly grasping the context and complexities of their lives. But most importantly, it keeps the people you’re designing for squarely grounded in the center of your work.

Emi Kolawole

Emi Kolawole is Editor-in-Residence at the d.school at Stanford University. She has covered innovation and politics for the Washington Post, been the associate producer for “Washington Week with Gwen Ifill,” and was named a Global Shaper by The World Economic Forum and a Young Leader by the French American Foundation.