Ever cried at the movies? Harness that capability in business. Humans have an inbuilt capacity to empathize

Yes, admit it. Even you have cried at some point of time while watching a movie. Studies on this subject talk about this ability of humans to empathize, even with fictitious people in these fictitious stories. It’s what makes us human. We wouldn’t have emotions if nature didn’t want us to have them. [Fun fact, those who cry a lot, tend to be happier.]1

In our world, it is easy for us to connect with friends, family and sometimes even rank strangers (or, as in the case of movies, fictitious ones). Why is it that in the context of business, these connections go out the window and all that matters is the bottom line, a few cold numbers on a paper/screen, and the proud poker face that doesn’t reveal a shred of strategy? Is there a way to bring about a shift in this status quo?

Ever since the industrial revolution, we’ve developed two personalities —  one human, and the other, industrial. This industrial personality dehumanises businesses — mass production, mass consumption and mass marketing take precedence over human beings and individuality. Outside of business, we’re human, but once in it, we’re industrial. It doesn’t help that businesses are legally separate from the people who run it — thus further removing any incentive to make businesses human.

Fortunately, for all of us ‘consumers’, the new world order provides platforms for expression — for authentic humans voices to be heard, and for these voices to influence others. One-size-fits-all value propositions can no longer be shoved down our throats with canned marketing messaging. The new world order dictates that businesses become more alive to the voice of their customers, or risk being overthrown by their competitors — Kodak & Blackberry are some of the more prominent examples of this.

Reversing the industrial mindset

We’ve already established that all of us are empathetic. The only thing left to do, is reorient the mind to bring it into the business context. Similar to the movie experience, if we immerse ourselves the context of consumers, we begin to empathize with them, which in turn can uncover insights that can lead to innovation.

Of course, it won’t happen overnight. Like someone learning to drive for the first time, it takes practice. For some, it is easier, and for some it takes more effort. One of the ways that this shift can be brought about is through the Design Thinking framework.

Design Thinking is a proven and repeatable problem solving protocol that any business or profession can employ. It combines creative and critical thinking that allows information and ideas to be organized, decisions to be made, situations to be improved, and knowledge to be gained. It’s a mindset focused on solutions and not the problem.

Ideafarms is breaking down the Design Thinking framework into bite-sized chunks for you. The first series of open workshops focuses on empathy, in which we learn about the ways in which we can immerse ourselves in the context of customers. This season’s last workshop is scheduled for 4 August 2018. Catch it before it’s too late. More details here >>


1 More about the study on Why we cry at movies.

Published by

Kasturika

The author is a consulting designer & design thinking facilitator with Ideafarms. An avid storyteller, she enjoys connecting disparate dots to create evocative stories.