May 02, 2013

Social Influence on Business Strategy: Empathy is the Secret Sauce

This post originally appeared on the Business4Better Blog.

Ed note: Today is the second day of Business4Better, a new event produced by PR Newswire’s parent company, UBM plc., designed to foster partnerships between non-profits and corporations. As I was scanning the blog posts recapping the first day, I spotted the post below and decided to share it with you.  It’s an interesting illustration of the degree to which social influences have permeated business decision making and strategy, and the importance of empathy to an organization’s success.  – SSReconciling a balance sheet or analyzing data for the next great product is not the only metric that drives the success of great companies. Rather, the secret sauce has to do with empathy for the world around you.

It is not just business for better, it is better for business, says Dev Patnaik, CEO of Jump Associates and author of Wired to Care who opened up the Business4Better show here in Anaheim.

He implored businesses to reconnect with their humanity and gave examples of companies that are doing this today. “When we are fact-based and living our lives with PowerPoint data, we are only bringing in a part of our brains every day to work, says Patnaik. “You have to have that connection and get out beyond your walls and spend the time in the real world.”

Harley Davidson is a company that embraces these ideals. “The minute you walk into Harley Davidson headquarters, the parking lot is overflowing with Harleys, the building smells like leather and the company keeps the connection to the world around them. There is an authenticity. We are them and they are us,” said Patnaik.

Patnaik also compared the culture of Nike and Reebok. Nike is a culture of athletes and Reebok is a culture of MBAs that sell shoes. Great companies have a gut sense to know what is right, the passion to leap on something new and the courage to stick with something shaky; he added.

Some view empathy is a lovey-dovey word but Nike and Harley Davidson are hard charging places, he said. “When you care about people more than yourself, you will innovate and grow. You will have a sense of mission and reason to come into work every day.”

Kelley DamoreAuthor  is Chief Community Officer at UBM Tech. 

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