“Thanks everyone for being here. Your input is valued. I want to hear from each of you, and will give all of you the opportunity to speak. Please be completely honest, as it helps us help you. When you share, speak directly to me, not to the others, and try to make any requests reasonable within the limits of time and space.”

This is the way I typically open focus group sessions. It is also the way I meditate.

I don’t know about you, but there are a lot of me in here, in the mind of Karen Faith. I…


The Applied Empathy Frequency measures empathic versatility across 7 archetypes. Image description: archetype icons in a continuum from low to high.

“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”

This sentiment is often used to praise love over money, but when William Bruce Cameron first articulated the phrase in 1963, he was lamenting the fact that sociological data could not be processed in the same way that more quantitative data could. As empathy-centric strategists and designers, we at Sub Rosa give both use cases a vigorous head nod, hand over heart.

However, in each facet of our work, the imperative to measure persists, and one of the most beautiful and rewarding challenges is discovering how to measure the immeasurable. Humans aren’t just layered and complex; they change, too. Sometimes…


The most heartening news is that we are all in this together, albeit from a distance. Communities are finding new channels of connection and we are witnessing a collective effort at a scale never before seen in our lifetime. But our togetherness in this crisis is also the very thing which makes it the disaster it is. Every one of us has had our life upended. And every business is facing urgent, critical challenges which must be addressed by a team made entirely of people with upended lives.

That micro-summary doesn’t begin to express the range of impact, from the…


The hidden gift of a crisis is the full-spectrum light it shines on what matters. During stressful moments, we are often forced to reassign our priorities to accommodate extreme circumstances. For some, that change is a simple matter of staying the course. But for others, the distance between everyday priorities and emergency priorities is so great that the shift can feel traumatic. When you feel the impact of a true crisis, do you find that your priorities have been out of order? Where do you look for guidance to reorder them?

At Sub Rosa, we practice Applied Empathy, a way…


During a recent brainstorm, I asked our team for signs of empathy deficits in the workplace. This was one of their submissions.

No matter how you cream your coffee, pulling off an empathy initiative externally can go sour if the team isn’t practicing it internally. With that in mind, Sub Rosa recently began compiling a list of ways to know if your team’s empathy practice needs a little work.

To get started, we outlined a simple matrix, organized by Sub Rosa’s 7 Empathic Archetypes. The archetypes are interaction styles that might be thought of as skill sets. In order to get a thorough compilation of empathy deficit symptoms, we catalogued scenarios where each archetypal skill was low.


Strategy, poetry & the reincarnation of a single insight.

The art and science of making work out of life.

If you’ve ever discovered you were living your work in a creepy but kinda beautiful way, I’ve got a story for you.

Some time ago, I conducted an ethnography for a client, a home builder, who wanted to reimagine the model home tour experience. My client had identified key benefits and obstacles, and like many clients, had in mind a few solutions for my team to investigate.

Better signage, for example, was on the list of improvements to make, and I was asked to observe the way that potential home buyers…


Spoiler alert: Design Thinking is a 1960s cover of the 17th century hit, The Scientific Method. And like all great cover-vs-original debates, their tie score is unbreakable.

Yours truly, drawing some conclusions. Photo credit: Josh Liston

I recently had occasion to consider Design Thinking in a new light, when I was asked by an artist friend what it was. Having come from the arts myself, I should have been equipped to explain it, as arts training offers heaps of step-by-step guides to creative thinking.


editors note: This post comes to us courtesy of Karen Faith, a brilliant ethnographer, writer, and empath. I had the pleasure of working with Karen at Moonshot Lab, and she taught me most of what I know about the practical (and impractical) applications of empathy. — ML

“The Three Matadors” by Every house has a door

When designing solutions for others, we must try to achieve empathy for their experience. I have a hunch that trying may be as good as it gets.

As a young student at the School of The Art Institute in Chicago, I was lucky to study with many gifted teachers, two of whom were…


Ed Note: We’ve been deeply honored to have Karen Faith as a member of Moonshot for almost the last two years. Sadly, this is her last contribution to the Moonshot blog, because she’s moving on to pursue other opportunities. We’re already missing her, but we know that she’ll have fantastic adventures.

When I practice ethnography, I am granted the chance to understand others by trying on their lives for a moment. So when the Moonshot team asked me to get familiar with chatbots, I should have known things were about to get weird. …


This September, Barkley’s Director of Empathy and Intelligence, Karen Faith, sat down to talk about virtual reality with David Mellor, award-winning Creative Director at Framestore, the undisputed giants of VR at present. They sat in the kitchen of Framestore’s new Chicago office and ranged over a dizzying array of topics, from storytelling to simulation theory. And it’s no surprise, because, as they soon discovered, virtual reality isn’t simply a new tech toy; it’s quite literally a portal to a new world.

David Mellor, Creative Director at Framestore

“Let the record reflect that Mellor has raised his hand.”

Interview transcripts make awkward reading, because they don’t reflect…

Karen Faith

Karen Faith is an ethnographer and facilitator specializing in empathy training for research, collaboration, and human citizenship.

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