Empathy: the most valuable thing they teach at HBS
The Harvard Business Review is running an article by HWYMYL co-author James Allworth, on empathy and its importance in business:
The place for me, however, where an appreciation of empathy is most undervalued, is in business. The potential upside for those in business who are able to be empathetic is huge, and is eloquently described in Professor Clay Christensen’s jobs-to-be-done theory. Understanding that people don’t buy things because of their demographics — nobody buys something because they’re a 25-30 year old white male with a college degree — but rather, because they go about living their life and some situation arises in which they need to solve a problem… and so they “hire” a product to do the job. This is a big “ah ha” to many folks when they first hear it; but when you really boil it down, the true power of this is in giving people in business a frame with which to exercise empathy. In fact, both Akio Morita of Sony and Steve Jobs were famous for never commissioning market research — instead, they’d just walk around the world watching what people did. They’d put themselves in the shoes of their customers.
And for those businesses whose executives are incapable of it? Well, they are subject to the ultimate stick — disruption. No better example of this exists than the story of Blockbuster and its competitive tangle with Netflix.