TGI Fridays: Empathy Maps

Will you ever really know what’s like to be in someone’s else shoes until you walk in them? You see this struggle in every day in work, relationship and even design. Sometimes, people may appear insensitive because they cannot see issues from the perspective of others. A tool that is used often to remedy that is an empathy map. In this exercise, I watched an episode of Undercover Boss and created empathy maps for both the boss and an employee that he worked alongside.

In the show, Undercover Boss, they attempt to put the boss (usually a CEO or a member of senior management) undercover to go work as an entry-level employee in different locations. This can help them identify issues that they cannot see from the upper level. In the past week, I’ve read a lot of materials about user empathy. Undercover Boss uses some of the same tactics that designers use to gain insight on the way their users interact with their products. Think about it like this: for a CEO, his different locations are his products. His employees and customers are his users. In order to see issues that employees or customers experience, he needs to use his product, or work/visit his locations.

Empathy Maps

One of employees stood out to me. Brittany is a hard-working woman who trains Ray first. She is a go-getter with a bubbly personality. Right away, she is eager to help him and offers to complete tasks with him as he learns. As they begin talking, she mentions how she has a passion for ensuring that all locations follow the “bar bible” so that a drink can taste the same in her location as it does across the globe. She wants to give the customer a great experience but reveals that some maintenance problems have yet to have been taken care of, even after reporting it to corporate. She also discusses her dark past that includes a struggle with addiction, something that no one would know about her if she hadn’t disclosed it. She sees TGI Fridays as a family, but sees a disconnect with corporate. At the end of the episode, Brittany is given the opportunity to move to Istanbul to help build a new location and train new hires.

Before starting his undercover journey, Ray set out to see how his company was handling new policy changes and to re-energize a company that he loved. What he didn’t expect was to meet amazing employees that are working hard to uphold his ideas while dealing with struggles of their own. With Brittany, he saw a woman who had the same passion for his restaurant but was missing the resources to fully perform. He was shocked to learn of Brittany’s past because she is such a positive energy in the workplace.

Ray learned a lot during his time undercover. This empathy map represents who he is and the impact this journey has had on him.

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