Human-centred design is a framework that considers human perspectives throughout the design process. It has been increasingly used by marketer for obvious reasons: “Understanding what people want and designing things that satisfy them is the most powerful way to achieve business goals.”
When applying human-centred design people are invited to care about what their audience wants, needs and feels in order to be successful in business. Empathy maps have been developed to support people to get familiar with their audience. Those maps guide people on what their customers are thinking, feeling, hearing, seeing and, most importantly, what their pains and gains are. In simpler words the human centred design helps businesses to make their customers happy while solving their problems or responding to their demands.
When we flip the mirror and consider the internal customers: the employees, a human-centred workplace focuses on the humanity of its employees.
A human-centred workplace focuses on responding to the humans’ needs and desires, and calls for leaders that care about their employees’ well-being, happiness and success, and employees that feel recognised and appreciated for their contributions.
In order to achieve a more humane workplace I think there are some old myths that need to be dismantled. You can apply these principles in everyday life too.
1. Value the human differences: Critical to the process of making business a more human experience is to start recognising that people are subjective and diverse. They do not behave like an assembly line. We need to acknowledge that people do not fall under a Gaussian curve nor they are statistically predictable. Make an effort to listen to the individual needs and adapt your processes to serve your people not the other way around. In other words value diversity by being genuinely inclusive.
2. Make it Personal: We have heard million of times that business is not personal and we should leave our personalities, emotions and feelings outside the workplace. Despite having studied anatomy I have yet to find the switch to turn them off. The more we force people to behave like a cold machine the more they will fear their work will be taken away by robots and the less they will trust or be engaged. I’ve written more about it here.
3. Move from transaction to transformation: We all crave for a better and more humane way of being in business. It require us to recast what we currently know and have trained for. We need to be inspired and inspire others to go through such a transformation. We cannot think of doing it through a transactional, one-off approach to engagement. Aim to transform your workplace culture into one that inspires and emboldens employees to participate in the change they seek. For more inspiration read here.
Surprisingly (or not) in my view the best path to human-centred business is found in poetry. Poetry helps us to keep in touch with our humanity, the path to reconnect with the whole of who we are imagining who we can become. The question we must dare to ask is "who do we need to become in order to make the changes we want?"
I invite you to attempt to write a poem trying to answer to this question. Do not use only your mind, tap into your senses and emotions. Give yourself the permission to feel their rhythm and let it guide you. Let the poem come from your heart.
Parker Palmer said: “I’m using the word heart as they did in ancient times. It meant the center in the human self where everything comes together where will and intellect and values and feeling and intuition and vision all converge. It meant the source of one’s integrity."
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