Febr 22nd ’18 Cape Town
Design Thinking and Empathy Generation


This 1-Day Design Thinking Course will be held on the 22nd of February 2018 in Cape Town at the delightful V&A Waterfront.

The course has been designed to help facilitators, practitioners and researchers renew their focus on empathy generation and what it means during a Design Thinking process.

Often described as a human-centered approach to innovation, Design Thinking is being used across the globe in a wide range of settings and industries, including public and private companies, non-profits, universities, and government agencies. In this Design Thinking Workshop, we will apply Human Centric Design principles to explore empathy across the phases of the Design Thinking framework.

The Program begins with an overview of Design Thinking to provide participants with an overview of the tools and methods of Design Thinking. We will then dig deep into Empathy, what it is and how to help participants better connect to themselves and those around them.

‘Design Thinking and Empathy Generation’

Facilitated by Katherine Train and Robert Bloom: Building Empathy to Co-design will be explored this learning experience.


In this workshop you will experience the creative power of true empathy. You will learn to distinguish empathy from emotional contagion, sympathy, empathic concern, empathic over-arousal and personal distress. You will be given concepts to understand and tools to practice this often lacking, and much needed, capacity.

As you deepen your capacities for imagination, intuition and inspiration associated with the art of empathy, you will tap into resources for innovative design relevant to the creation of human-centred society.

Monday, 22nd of february 2018
Location: DT Academy, Workshop17, V&A Waterfront
08:00 hr Check in
09:00 hr Empathy and Human-centred design principles
10:00 hr The art of empathy
11:00 hr From emotional contagion to true empathy
12:00 hr 5-Stage empathy practice
14:00 hr The doing of empathy in Human-centred Design
17:00 hr End of day


Empathy, as a capacity, is integral to Design Thinking and Human-centric Design. On the surface it seems easy to achieve. There are, however, many internal experiences that fall under the umbrella term of empathy, many of which may represent our own view of our customer more than their actual reality and needs.

As we attempt to place ourselves in their experience, we bring with us our own sticky cultural, historical and contextual tendencies. Empathy is a process, not an event. Many of its stages are automatic and unconscious, surfacing a view of our own rich tapestry of life.

Unless we learn to identify these phantoms, we are likely to project them onto our perception of our customer’s needs. Their real needs remain submerged, often even to themselves. With enhanced empathy skills, we are able to discern their deeper needs and to respond creatively.

As well as teaching theory and practice of Design Thinking, this course provides a deep-dive into empathy and it’s many facets, and how, leaving empathy to chance, may hinder, as much as enhance, the Design Thinking and Human-centred design process.

We will interpret the Perception-Action Model of empathy, proposed by Preston and de Waal (2002) along with insights gleaned from neuroscience and social psychology to show that empathy is a practice requiring intent and self-insight useful to design. It is also developmental, which means that as a skill it is not a given, but that it can be enhanced with skilful practice.

The main takeaway from the workshop will be:

  1. The ability to engage a deeper level of empathy as you apply a Design Thinking framework to relevant human-centric challenges;
  2. To distinguish between true empathy and associated states of being;
  3. To fluidly engage 5-stages of empathy practice;
  4. To apply embodied intelligence as a technique in empathy in interviews and observation to bring awareness to otherwise automatic, unconscious cues;
  5. To enhance your facilitation capacities by understanding workshop participants better; to ensure coordinated, empathic interaction in customer interviews; and to sensitively interpret your interview and observation results.

Participation is limited to ensure a highly facilitated experience. You will learn about the methods and tools of Design Thinking by working on a project in a small team, with short periods of reflection on the theory behind contemporary innovation methods.

Methods and tools include: From passive sensing to active perception; 5-Stage Empathy Practice; Embodiment techniques; Observational methods, Persona Profile, Customer Journey Map, Empathy map



Katherine Train, will be your empathy expert. She has researched the application of empathy in organisations through the lens of South Africa, with its cultural and resource diversity and history of social upheaval. Katherine has been facilitating workshops on empathy and related topics since 2005 in corporate, NGO and the public sector. View Katherine’s Profile

Robert Bloom, will be your DT Facilitation Coach. Robert is the Founder of DTG-SA and has been facilitating Design Thinking programs since 2011. Robert has facilitated Workshops with a number of Listed Companies on the JSE as well as in Dubai and Kuwait. View Robert’s Profile



Language: English
Venue: DesignThinkers Academy Cape Toen, Workshop 17, V&A Waterfront, The Watershed, 1st Floor
Dates: February 22nd 2018

Max. participants: 15

Ticket Price: R 3.200,= (including lunch, snacks and drinks)*. Discounts available for teams signing up or NGO’s.

Early Bird Price before 31 January 2018:  R2 950

For more info please contact Robert at robert@designthinkersgroup.com or Katherine at info@katherinetrain.co.za.

REGISTRATION: to enrol for this training, please click the Registration button on the top right corner of this page.