Event Recap: Radical Empathy with frog

To create change – something we do a lot as innovation practitioners, it sometimes isn’t enough to convince others. Often we need to build empathy and create a deeper sense of understanding between peers and leaders to move the needle.

With this in mind, WIN London was delighted to bring frog’s Radical Empathy methods and practice to our global community. As community members poured into the event, they were immediately met with a challenge – they had to choose one of the following prompts:

  • Tell me a story about a turning point when you found strength

  • Tell me about a time when you were unexpectedly recognised

  • Tell me about a time when you felt powerful

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frog Creative Director Kara Pecknold and Senior Strategist Sesh Vedachalam introduced attendees to the concept of Radical Empathy, a technique for listening and sharing with vulnerability, through a powerful video exercise from frog’s own work: https://vimeo.com/235081825

What better way to bring empathy to a topic as sensitive and emotionally-charged as a gynaecological exam?!

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Building on this engaging and emotional start, Kara and the frog team walked us through how to practice Radical Empathy. This practice centres around a story exchange which pairs two people together to tell a story. Once each pair of WIN women shared a short story about a time they felt powerful, stories were retold. The twist? Each member told their partner’s story. In first person. Pair by pair all around the room, total strangers gained a deep, empathetic understanding of a new friend, and understood more about their struggles, strengths and triumphs than we often understand about our closest friends and colleagues.

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To bring this transformative experience together, WIN moderators led the community in a co-creation exercise to discuss how to bring Radical Empathy to our work, and to our work life. Across attendees, here were some of the most powerful messages:

  • Use the practice of Radical Empathy with team members, adjacent teams, your boss, and even in interviews to really create a shared sense of understanding

  • Practice Radical Empathy with clients and customers to unlock deeper insights into their needs and experience. Particularly when you or your team are designing for atypical users

  • Explore the power of Radical Empathy as ‘self-care’. The practice enables participants to view their own stories in a new way that makes space for them to appreciate the strength in their own stories

  • Feeling ‘powerful’ is often about a ‘before and after’ transformation, but there is power in conquering the time betweenTo build real and lasting empathy, we need to create the conditions for vulnerability

  • Vulnerability is real power!

Our fabulous WIN moderator, Joy Blundell created this beautiful visual summary, capturing the key themes of the event.  

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Next time you’re struggling to be heard, to gain buy-in, or to understand a different perspective, we encourage you to try out Radical Empathy. Looking for a place to start? Read more about how frog put this to work on the Yona project and what others are saying about it.

We certainly can’t wait to bring the principles and practice to our work and workplaces, and we hope you will too.

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Credits & special thanks to –

Simran Takhar, Visual Designer @frogdesign for photos

Joy Blundell, Facilitator @joyatlarge for the gorgeous visual summary

Moderators Meredith Smith, Justine Lai, Joy Blundell, Gokce Ince, Malina Keutel


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