The empathic (r)evolution. Lessons learned from Covid-19 to design at the community, organization, and governmental levels.



The pandemic has revolutionized economic, social, and political models and broken down private and public systems, probably irreversibly. The gap between top-down and bottom-up approaches has widened, favoring divergences between centralized approaches and distributed solutions. The need to rethink rhythms, relationships, places, organizations and governance models emerged, as well as, to rethink the way we create relationships and we design. The paper discusses the adoption of an empathic component in the governance of complex ecosystems to make them more resilient to unexpected phenomena such as Covid-19. The aim is to bring a design perspective discussing the need for an ‘empathic revolution’, namely the adoption of empathy as a lever of innovation for communities, businesses, organizations, and governments. The hypothesis is to adopt empathy not only to understand the users' needs in the development of new products and services, but to extend its adoption also in organizational changes up to transformative processes. In the first part, empathy is described through an extra-disciplinary observation. The second part outlines how empathy has been adopted in the design field. The third part analyzes - through the empathic component - some phenomena that occurred during the pandemic at a community, organizational, and governmental level.






Reflections on the design processes adopted in response to the pandemic crisis