It’s the story behind the story...
I had the privilege of participating in the National Association of Temple Administrators (NATA) annual conference in December. The schedule was filled with amazing speakers, breakout sessions, social gatherings, and opportunities to connect in small groups or one-on-one. To be honest, I was worried about the amount of time I’d be on Zoom over a period of 4 days. Fortunately, I did not let that concern keep me from attending a workshop that has stuck with me.
Abby Fifer-Mandell, the Executive Director of the Brittingham Social Enterprise Lab at USC Marshall School of Business, lead a 3-part session on Human Centered Design, which I have to say was amazing. At the core of human centered design is relationship building and listening, extreme empathy and learning from the act of listening. And by listening, I mean really listening, paying attention to what is said AND what is not said and focusing on the why behind it.
As I watched and listened to Abby share information on how congregations can think about applying human centered design, I was also aware of how she navigated leading a webinar, responding to the chat, and keeping her audience engaged while also juggling a young son who very much wanted her attention. She was dealing with the same factors that most of us are encountering during this pandemic – the blurred lines between our professional and personal lives. She had to navigate her own space, privacy and family, all while on Zoom!
This pandemic has made us all pivot, change, and adapt, and we are all doing the best that we can with what we have. Perhaps using human centered design, which places the user and extreme empathy at its core, is exactly what we all need right now. And this empathy should extend past our professional lives and into our personal lives, and past what we can see to what is going on “behind the screen,” literally and figuratively.
Let’s make extreme empathy a priority. Let’s make it a part of how we interact with one another. Let’s take a look at the story behind the story. Let’s commit to looking past the surface so we can appreciate and truly understand where people are coming from. Let’s remember to consider not only what we see on the Zoom screen, but also what we don’t see in the rest of the room.