Empathy is essential to human-centered design. But empathy alone does not ensure inclusion. That requires shifting power to the people our work intends to serve.
Today, we are diversifying our teams with designers who come from a range of lived experiences and backgrounds, and IDEO’s portfolio features more examples of co-design than ever before. The residents of South Bend, Indiana, helped build a platform for lifelong learning called Bendable; frontline workers came up with novel solutions in health care and travel when the Ford Foundation called attention to their work; and neighbors of the Northern Illinois Food Bank helped the organization design a grocery service that felt tailor-made for them.
The point is, the people with whom we design are the true experts—they know better than anyone what is broken and how to fix it. Collaborating with people who bring lived experience is helping us design for expanded accessibility, too—a core requirement when seeking to bring innovative thinking to the experience of voting, say, or to a next-gen mobility chair for children.
Designing more inclusively means designing products, services and systems to benefit those who are marginalized, and impacted most by our work. We used to design for people. Increasingly, we’re designing with them.