Recent history has seen the rise of innovation as a key mandate for driving top-line growth in business across multiple sectors. But as organizations have devoted increasing resources and attention to innovation, a critical issue has been ignored in the process. How can you create new value if your company doesn’t have a gut sense for what people outside its walls actually value? The challenge facing business today isn’t a lack of innovation, it’s lack of empathy.
Dev Patnaik takes audiences inside leading companies like IBM, Target and Intel to see how empathy can drive change and growth. He dives deep into the human brain to find the biological sources of empathy and their critical role in decision-making, learning, and judgement. And he spends time on both sides of the political aisle, to show how empathy can give politicians the acuity to cut through a morass of contradictory information.
It turns out that while large companies and organizations are phenomenally good at managing complexity, they’re actually quite bad at tackling ambiguity. A complicated problem is like playing a game of chess, an ambiguous problem is like having your in-laws over to dinner for the first time. In the latter situation, it’s not the number of variables that kills you. It’s what you don’t know that you don’t know.
Fortunately, there is an answer, and that answer is hybrid thinking. Hybrid thinking is more than just having multidisciplinary teams. It’s about having multidisciplinary people — folks who are one-part humanist, one-part technologist and one-part capitalist. When multiple disciplines inhabit the same brain, something magical starts to happen. The disciplines themselves start to mutate. They hybridize. We start practicing business like a designer — think Mark Parker at Nike. We shape technology like a culturalist — think Steve Jobs at Apple. And we start thinking about the most complex problems that plague our societies like an entrepreneur.
Dev Patnaik is the CEO of Jump Associates, a strategy and innovation firm. Jump helps companies create new businesses and reinvent existing ones. Jump works with some of the world’s most admired companies, including GE, Nike, Target and Virgin.
Jump has helped companies to define profitable growth platforms in highly ambiguous spaces, and build the systems, processes and metrics to make these platforms a reality. In recent years, Jump has become particularly well-known for its pioneering culture. Jump was named by the Wall Street Journal as one of the best places to work in America.
Dev is a frequent speaker at business forums and his articles have appeared in numerous publications, including BusinessWeek, Forbes, and Fast Company. He is also the author of the book Wired to Care: how companies prosper when they create widespread empathy. It was named one of the best books of the year by both Fast Company and Business Week. Noted author Malcolm Gladwell called Wired to Care “just what we need for the lean years ahead.”
His forthcoming book, Unleash, is a playbook for leaders trying to grow their businesses in times of extreme change.
When he’s not working at Jump, Dev is an adjunct professor at Stanford University, where he teaches a course called Needfinding. In the class, students draw upon methods from anthropology, design and business strategy to discover insights about ordinary people and create new products and services.
Dev lives with his family in San Mateo, California. And while he finds himself to be most often in other time zones, his watch is always set to Pacific Time.