in Customer-Centeredness

Hire People Who Talk to Plants

Empathy has long been a useful trait in designers, because we’re more likely to design products and services that offer utility, usability, and desirability if we care about customers. By extension, it’s therefore a useful trait for business people as well, as authors like Dan Pink point out.

When hiring, the tricky part is figuring out who feels empathy. Maybe, while talking to someone, you could spill hot coffee on yourself and see how they respond? Maybe you could ask them to talk through an approach to a business problem and see if they overlook the customer (I’ve seen user experience designers do this. It ain’t pretty.)?

If you’re lucky enough to find someone who talks to their plants, hire them. We know speech doesn’t actually help plants grow, but anyone who cares enough to treat their plants as if they were people will probably treat customers very well.

  1. Yakes spilling coffee over yourself? :)

    Emathy is a great trait. Luckily I work with many sweet people who are kind and care about users. Unfortunately empathy doesn’t rhyme with “cool”. Too often I find people couldn’t care less about even responding to emails when they know their colleagues need them. And empathy is seen as a poor rather than strong trait.

    Go flower power, in this instance :)

  2. Lena — Excellent point! Combining empathy with strength, and making it popular, is very difficult.

    But some of our greatest figures have shown it’s possible: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Jesus, and Gandhi. And lately when I see business leaders like Bill Gates, celebrities like Bono, and politicians like President Obamo talk about new ways of thinking about our problems and helping those in need, I’m encouraged that it is possible.

    I think it requires finding the place where the empathetic solution also fulfills some other need, like financial return. That’s what makes Gates’s “creative capitalism” rhetoric nice to hear.

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