Weeknotes — Empathy Talks Ep02

Kate Goodwin
3 min readNov 22, 2020

16–20 November

Good things

People are being so open and giving with advice on the Empathy Talks approach. This week we spoke with excellent people from KaosPilot and Complexity Surfers / Horizon Bricks /Animus.

We have 1 if not 2 pilot experiments happening in the next fortnight. People are coming out of the woodwork and we are finding people in the woodwork to link up with and get involved in the pilots, including some of the lovely and brilliant eggs I studied with at the School of System Change last year.

The Empathy Talks idea seems to gel so well with so many— definitely a signal to pay attention to.

What I am loving so much is how everything seems so serendiputously connected. As I type this I’ve just spied Maddie Dore’s latest excellent instalment of Extraordinary Routines and this line:

“Perhaps we need to be reminded often of both the small and grand forms of connection.

Relating, relationships + relational leadership has very much been topic of the week. Was therefore thrilled when Sarah Firth posted her latest on-point-ness yesterday on the shape of me, the shape of you. Again with the serendipity ❤

Source: Sarah Firth, The Shape of Me, The Shape of You


Maybe we are being too rigid in how we are designing the Talks. We’ve been told they feel a bit like a structured design sprint, and that perhaps they should be more fluid and allow emergence.

FWIW we thought a more structured approach was necessary for psychological safety, given, the potential volatility of an Empathy Talk. So this is something we’re dwelling on, and will take into the pilots this week and next for exploration.

Looking back, we’ve had so many good chats in the past weeks that a more detailed write up is warranted.

Source: m_d_n_f


The official ‘live’ site that we’re hoping to do a Talk in, in Rybnik, Poland, is taking time to shape up; 4+ weeks so far. Arguably this isn’t a difficulty so much as a learning about what it takes to do an activity like this in challenging contexts and environments, and how difficult it might be to bring people together in these ways. After all if this kind of concept was easy, we’d already be doing it… right (?).


5 weeks 4 days til end of the year — back in September when we pitched the idea we had aimed to do 6 experiments by the end of year. We need to adjust our expectations, but also we are learning a tonne. We are still gaining a lot of ground, just not in the ways we’d anticipated. Hypothesis -> experiment -> learning.


The first mini-experiment is done, with Sebastian Wolf Siebzehnruebl trying out the format with attendees of an anti-lockdown protest earlier this week. Learnings to come.

Week in a GIF

(idea pinched from Kai Brach /Dense Discovery. Danke.)

Got feedback on Empathy Talks? Want to join a pilot? Just want to say hi? Would love to hear from you: kate@matchboxstudio.com.au.



Kate Goodwin

Systems, strategy, design. Creative experiments in life, work and play. http://matchbox.studio