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Empathy = Power for Change

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Empathetic stories have had a huge impact on the ability of General Mills to uncover deep needs and spur the development and launch of successfully differentiated new products. In this short notes …

Empathetic stories have had a huge impact on the ability of General Mills to uncover deep needs and spur the development and launch of successfully differentiated new products. In this short notes slide presentation, Anne Orban, M.Ed., NPDP, Director of Discovery & Innovation at Innovation Focus Inc, communicates the basic framework for this tool and her enthusiasm for its value to companies with lackluster new product performance.

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  • We all know the term – blinding flash of the obvious. I think that means intuitively you know its right. Project outcomes at the fuzzy front end are sometimes ‘ accused’ of delivering that. Great. That means the deliverable is intuitively right. But you didn’t know that when you started the project. The vehicle for infecting people with a similar level of intuitive commitment to a big insight is the empathic story that deeply, intuitively connects. For General Mills: Empathy is an outcome of data analysis and synthesis. It is an individual ah-ha in a safe team setting. It moves individuals and teams through awareness and sympathy from customer interaction and personal experience using tools and techniques from theatrical improvisation to breakthrough the mask of indifference -- and deliver the empathic ah-ha in a story you remember because it connects empathically.
  • Make the story yours for your business and your value chain. Personal experience of moving through the steps toward empathy and using the empathic stories to achieve “the impossible”.

Transcript

  • 1. Presented by: G. Anne Orban Director, Discovery & Innovation November 17, 2011 Empathy = Power for Change Story
  • 2. What is the problem that empathy can help to solve? Innovation Focus Inc. November 17,, 2011
    • Big ideas at the fuzzy front end require big change
    • Organizations resist big change
    • Huge personal commitments are needed by individuals, teams and executives in corporations to move big product/service ideas forward at times when data is necessarily soft and perceived risk is high
  • 3. How do we strive to gain deep insight? Innovation Focus Inc. November 17, 2011
  • 4. How do we strive to gain deep insight? Innovation Focus Inc. November 17,, 2011
    • We collect huge amounts of explicit data – qualitative & quantitative
    • We strive to use this data to find unarticulated/tacit needs
    • How do we recognize when the customer is telling us what really, really deeply matters to them?
    • How do we communicate that so that it matters to all those who make the decisions that result in really successful new products/services?
    • Current techniques for data analysis & synthesis remain necessary but are insufficient
    • PowerPoint slides, no matter how well crafted are forgettable
    • So what’s better?
  • 5. Getting out of our own way is no longer enough.
    • We still need to…
    • Acknowledge and intermediate our personal and company biases and assumptions using reflective thinking and discussion
    • Recognize that there may be another way or another perspective
    Innovation Focus Inc. November 17, 2011
  • 6. Deconstructing Empathy
    • We have to move ourselves through the levels of empathy.
    • Oblivion – “Other people don’t think like me – I don’t understand why”
    • Awareness – “Others aren’t like me – I’m so glad I’m not like them – Our customers should be more like me”
    • Sympathy – “I can understand your pain – When I think about it”
    • Empathy – “I know your pain – I feel what you feel on a visceral and life-changing level”
    Innovation Focus Inc. Oblivion Awareness Sympathy Empathy November 17, 2011 From Steven Farenholtz, PhD, Director, Strategy and Innovation (iSquad), General Mills
  • 7. The power of empathy…
    • Empathy = Raw moments of truth =
    • Helping people feel differently (forever)
    Innovation Focus Inc. November 17,, 2011
    • We need tools to help us go from the external to the internal
      • Empathy gives us an intuitive sense of which facts to pay attention to
      • Empathy informs intuition in ways that numbers can’t
      • We all have capacity for empathy
      • Allows us to develop products that are ‘not for us’
      • Connects us to the emotional job-to-be-done beyond the functional and the social.
  • 8. How do we typically tell the story of our findings to others in the organization?
    • Method
    • Charts (boxes, arrows)
    • Rational Argument
    • Dialogue
    • Storytelling
    Innovation Focus Inc. November 17, 2011 Efficacy? What are criteria for effective communication of consumer/customer findings in your organization? How do you persuade someone?
  • 9. Is there a better way?
    • Left Brain
    • Reason
    • Analysis
    • Logic
    • Abstractions
    • Objectivity
    Innovation Focus Inc. Right Brain Feeling Narrative Empathy Stories Subjectivity + … Because Empathy gets you through the messy middle – through the hundreds, maybe thousands of decisions that need to be made to bring big ideas (new products/services) successfully to market. Persuasion i.e. how ideas make their way in the world November 17, 2011 = Acknowledging the work of Stephen Denning, Author of numerous books including The Springboard: How storytelling ignites action in Knowledge-era Organizations .
  • 10. What About Storytelling…
    • Storytelling is really the oldest profession and it’s powerful.
    • Homer’s story of Odysseus was passed on for centuries before it was written down
    • Plato banned storytelling from The Republic because it was too powerful a tool in a State governed by reason
    • The story of Tunisian Mohamed Bouazizi’s self-immolation -- the story of the 26-year-old university graduate without a steady job, trying to support his family shocked Tunisia and was powerful enough to spark protests over unemployment that have led to … the fall of regimes in The Arab Spring
    Innovation Focus Inc. November 17, 2011
  • 11. What About Storytelling… Innovation Focus Inc. November 17,, 2011 We all know the term – blinding flash of the obvious. I think that means intuitively you know its right. Project outcomes at the fuzzy front end are sometimes ‘ accused’ of delivering the obvious. Great. That means the deliverable is intuitively right. But you didn’t know that when you started the project. The vehicle for infecting people with a similar level of intuitive commitment to a big insight is the empathic story that deeply, intuitively connects. For General Mills empathy is an outcome of data analysis and synthesis. It is an individual ah-ha in a safe team setting. It moves individuals and teams through awareness and sympathy from customer interaction and personal experience -- using tools and techniques from theatrical improvisation to breaking through the mask of indifference -- and delivers the empathic ah-ha in a story you remember because it connects empathically.
  • 12. What story do we tell?
    • A story that is…
    • True – authentic with no spin so I am able to trust it
    • Empathic – so I am able to really connect deeply with the story
    • Minimalist – quick to tell so that my rational brain doesn’t wander away and my eyes glaze over
    • Ignites the ‘what if’ spark to become the springboard for actions and decisions that I need to make for a breakthrough idea to become a reality
    • “ The greatest gift is knowing you’ve been heard.”
    Innovation Focus Inc. November 17,, 2011
  • 13. Storytelling Exercise
    • Topics:
        • Dia-besity – the Type 2 diabetes and obesity epidemic
        • Illegal Immigration – Legislation and reform
        • Occupy Wall Street – Unemployment, economic turmoil
        • Child Abuse – In light of the Penn State indictments
        • Healthcare – Access and cost
    • Directions:
    • Break into groups of three and make sure to team up with someone new
    • Each person identifies a role in one of these categories: care-giver, authority figure and consumer/patient/participant/target/victim
    • Role play a dialogue in which you try to express your emotions and your circumstances
    • Report back to the group something that you learned
    Innovation Focus Inc. November 17,, 2011
  • 14. Finding the breakthrough story… November 17, 2011 Innovation Focus Inc. From Steven Farenholtz, PhD, Director, Strategy and Innovation (iSquad), General Mills
  • 15. Finding the breakthrough story… slide above ) From Steven Farenholtz, PhD, Director, Strategy and Innovation (iSquad), General Mills
  • 16. The empathic story…
    • Rule of Thumb
      • Find a big area of opportunity aligned with business objectives and corporate strategy
      • Ensure clarity of purpose
      • Employ consistency of process steps
      • Build skills to integrate head and heart
      • Improve iteratively
    Innovation Focus Inc. November 17, 2011
  • 17. Your Innovation Focus Presenter Innovation Focus Inc. November 17, 2011 Anne Orban, MFA, MEd, NPDP Director Discovery & Innovation Anne is committed to helping clients innovate all along the value chain. At Innovation Focus she combines her experience in marketing research, process design, and facilitation to help clients grow through new product and service development. Anne has her master of education degree in adult training and organizational development and her master of fine arts in theater and drama. She is a certified New Product Development Professional. Currently she serves of the Board of Directors of the Product Development and Management Association.