Understand your customers within a given context by creating their profile based on what they think and feel, see and hear, and say and do.

👥 3 to 10 participants | ⏰ between 15 and 20 minutes


This exercise helps your group gain a deeper understanding of a stakeholder in your business ecosystem (a client, prospect, partner, etc.) within a given context, such as a buying decision or an experience using a product.

The empathy map can be as simple or complex as you want to make it.

If you have a decent understanding of the person and context you want to map, you should be able to make a rough empathy map quickly.

If you don’t understand the stakeholder very well, this exercise can help identify gaps in understanding and illuminate the things you don’t yet know.


The exercise can be as simple or complex as you want to make it. You should be able to make a rough empathy map quickly, if you have a decent understanding of the person and context you want to map.

  1. Start by drawing a circle to represent the person. Give it a name and some identifying information, like a job title. It helps to think of a real person who roughly fits the profile, and keep them in mind as you proceed. In keeping with the idea of a “profile,” think of the circle as the profile of a person’s head and fill in some details. You might want to add eyes, mouth, nose, and maybe glasses or a hairstyle to differentiate the person from other profiles you might want to create. These details will help you project yourself into that person’s experience.
  2. Determine a question you have for that stakeholder. What would you want to ask them or understand about a situation in their life? For example, if you want to understand a buying decision, you might ask “Why should I buy X?”
  3. Divide the circle into sections that represent aspects of that person’s sensory experience. What are they thinking, feeling, saying, doing, hearing? Label the appropriate sections on the image.
  4. Now it’s time for the “empathy” portion of the exercise. Try to project yourself into that person’s experience and the context you want to explore. Start filling in the diagram with real, tangible, sensory experiences. For example, when filling in the “hearing” section, think of what the person might hear and how they would hear it. In the “saying” section, write their thoughts as they would express them; don’t use your own words. The point is to truly understand and empathise with their situation so you can design a better product or service.
  5. Check yourself: Ask others to review your map, make suggestions, and add details or context. The more a person can identify with the actual stakeholder, the better.




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