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This is the introduction of a 3 part series with @thibault_imbert. Check back next week for part 2!

Fast growing companies and empathy

Startups are generally good soil for building empathy. Because you have less resources, you wear multiple hats. Maybe you do both product management and social media marketing or maybe both marketing and sales. In this environment, going cross-functional allows you to better understand the user, their frustrations and even how people respond and feel about your product.

Recently, Merci Victoria Grace (former Director of Product at Slack) shared the following anecdote in a talk. The CEO of Slack asks a very simple question to his employees during design reviews when he believes something could be improved:

“Imagine you’re a human being.”

The initial gut reaction to this question is: Well, I am a human being…

But actually, we as designers, engineers, product or marketing managers, or anyone in tech, are generally a terrible representation of most human beings exposed to software. We have much more experience with technology than most of our customers, so it’s easy to fall into the trap of building experiences based on that distorted reality.

As companies grow, with more and more people, meetings, workload, and temptation to outsource research, it is critical to not lose that tight connection with the customers to build empathy and embed ourselves in our customer’s struggles to re-align ourselves with the reality.

Over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to walk you through the framework we’ve built and use at Adobe to ensure customer empathy is at the center of everything we build and grow. Let’s get started with this week’s section.

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