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jerryking : economic_imperatives   3

Why empathy is an economic necessity - The Globe and Mail

Special to The Globe and Mail

Published Wednesday, Aug. 14 2013

The world is full of wonderfully engineered, but poorly designed products – with no eye for how the average person might use it. This highlights a certain quality that isn’t taught in business schools but can make a huge difference for companies developing new products: empathy.

Empathy is the ability to see the world through someone else’s eyes. It’s far more than just being a nice person. If properly developed, empathy can give you and your company a distinct competitive edge. Negotiating a contract, dealing with workplace conflicts, coming up with a marketing campaign, or dreaming up the next must-have consumer gadget all require the ability to see the world through eyes that aren’t your own.

Sadly, managers and human resource departments too often neglect the interpersonal skills that are so essential to achieving results. Along with other aptitudes such as story-telling and creativity, empathy is underappreciated by many in the corporate board room. The fact that we even call them “soft” skills implies that they’re less important....The ability to see the world through the eyes of others is an economic imperative. If empathy were given the attention it deserves, companies would find new ways to please their customers. Innovators would dream up systems that save time and money. Conflicts would be resolved more easily. And maybe – just maybe – engineers would design products that are simple to use.
empathy  product_development  design  skills  storytelling  Todd_Hirsch  UX  usability  competitive_advantage  under_appreciated  people_skills  new_products  interpersonal_interactions  soft_skills  delighting_customers  product_design  economic_imperatives  must-have_experience 
august 2013 by jerryking
The economic imperative for investing in arts and culture
Mar. 27 2013 | The Globe and Mail | TODD HIRSCH.

A better reason why the economy needs a strong cultural scene is that it helps to attract and retain labour. This is especially important for cities trying to draw smart professionals from around the world. The best and brightest workers are global citizens, and if they (or their families) are not pleased with the cultural amenities, they won’t come. Calgary, where I live, is a perfect example: world-class fly fishing and a great rodeo will attract some people, but without fantastic arts and sports amenities, the pool of willing migrants would be shallow....The third reason, however, is the most important. To become the creative, innovative and imaginative citizens that our companies and governments want us to be, Canadians need to willingly expose themselves to new ideas. A vibrant arts and culture community is the easiest way to make this possible.

American neuroscientist Gregory Berns, in the introduction to his 2008 book Iconoclast, wrote: “To see things differently than other people, the most effective solution is to bombard the brain with things it has never encountered before.” Living and travelling abroad is a great way to do this, but for most of us that isn’t a practical reality. Arts and culture on our home turf offer us the chance to “bombard” our brain with new stimulus without leaving town.

The important part, as Dr. Berns puts it, is to concentrate on things your brain has never encountered before. If you’re an opera fan, going to see opera season after season will be enjoyable, but you won’t reap the creative benefits that come from exposure to other things. Maybe you need to skip the next performance of Don Giovanni and take in some indie rock. Or if you’re a hockey nut, turn off the game one night and take in an exhibit of contemporary visual art. You’re not required to enjoy an unfamiliar art or sport (although if you go with an open mind, you’ll be surprised). The point is to purposely take it in, absorb what’s going on, and let your mind be bombarded. It gets the brain’s neurons firing in different ways...We have to stop thinking about arts and culture as simply nice-to-haves. They are just as important as well-maintained roads and bridges. By giving us the chance to stimulate our minds with new ideas and experiences, they give us the opportunity to become more creative. Arts and culture are infrastructure for the mind.
cultural_institutions  art  artists  Calgary  creativity  prosperity  creative_class  funding  fine_arts  value_propositions  mental_dexterity  creative_renewal  Todd_Hirsch  imagination  idea_generation  ideas  iconoclasts  contemporary_art  open_mind  economic_imperatives  the_best_and_brightest 
march 2013 by jerryking
A terrifying brush with a new kind of hate
29 Oct 2001 | The Globe and Mail A.3.|by Stephanie Nolen.

Never before have I encountered the kind of naked hate I did from these men....this wasn't just about the West: This was about me as a woman, working on my own. Other white, female reporters in Islamabad talk of having stones thrown at them, of being molested and struck by devout men at the protests....
...So what do the men at the protest see when they look at me?

I put the question to a series of Pakistani men and women, well-off and less so, religious and secular. They reminded me that fundamentalists represent perhaps 5 per cent of Pakistan's population, and expressed horror at the men's behaviour. But they couldn't explain it.

Then I asked Farzana Bari, who heads the Center for Women's Studies at Qaid-i-Avam University in Islamabad. She sighed and pushed her dark hair off her face.

"Out of the entire Western civilization, the Western woman is THE threat for a conservative Muslim man. They will hate you more than men, because you are what will happen if Western civilization wins. They think, this is what our women will be like."

She noted that women who are struggling for their rights in Muslim countries are labelled Western as the ultimate pejorative. "The first thing that someone who is trying to project himself as a pious Muslim man does is to put his women into purdah ," she said, referring to the sequestering of women.

The Taliban banned women from all public roles within days of seizing power in 1996, despite both economic imperatives and cultural traditions that worked against it. They do so, she said, because restricting women's access to public space is something men can do easily -- unlike other ways of Islamizing society, such as instituting an interest-free economy to honour the Islamic prohibition against usury. That fails wherever it is tried.

"For things like that, men have to change," Prof. Bari said.
ProQuest  Stephanie_Nolen  Pakistan  Wahhabism  misogyny  economic_imperatives 
july 2012 by jerryking

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