The analogy of map and territory has its limits.
“If you ask a user experience person—academic or practitioner—whether empathy is important to design, it’s hard to imagine anything other than a resounding ‘Yes!’ Indeed, statements like the one above seem to imply that empathy is a silver bullet that will transform design and lead to innovation. Before empathy was a buzzword, many of us would still have said that helping product teams develop empathy for their users was a core function of user experience research. After all, what else could it mean to study another’s experience and share those insights with others? As often happens in business, though, once a concept like empathy catches on, it’s treated like a fresh discovery. The groundswell is then translated into a small number of new techniques that instantiate the concept concretely. As these techniques become codified, too often reification takes over and their artifacts, or deliverables, seem to substitute for the more abstract virtue they supposedly represent. We act as though the map is the territory.”