My gut tells me that while we can try, pure empathy is unlikely, in design and in management. So, we came up with a modification: Problempathy™.
Where empathy is about putting yourself in the user’s shoes, Problempathy™ is about putting yourself in the problem’s shoes; e.g., when we are redesigning an app, we take on the perspective of the app. Problem statements now sound like this: “I wish I could do more, but my designer forgot a feature that would have really helped the user,” or “I’m embarrassed I keep crashing.”
For employees, we use Problempathy™ to look at our scoping process from a proposal’s perspective rather than a client’s. Or, when we revamped our org chart, we looked at the problem from the chart’s perspective. As a result, we ended up with something radical and different in the form of intersecting circles rather than a traditional hierarchical organization chart.