Jackie Acho and Edwin Rutsch: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy
Jackie is President of The Acho Group, a strategy and
leadership consulting firm. Prior to founding The Acho Group in 2005, she
was a Partner in the Midwest Complex of McKinsey & Company. She has worked
for technology, industrial, academic, nonprofit, and economic development
clients on a variety of issues, with particular focus on growth and
innovation, strategy, and leadership development for more than 18 years.
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Jackie Acho, Ashoka Future Forum 2013 A
Currency of Empathy and empathy and innovation,
Jackie Acho speaks at the Ashoka Future Forum about A Currency of
Empathy and empathy and innovation
, May 31, 2013 in Washington, DC
Following that conference, some
colleagues and I are starting to do some macroeconomic research and
write an article (aimed at the McKinsey Quarterly or HBS) to correlate
empathy in the workplace with innovation, as well as clarify what
needs to change in organizations (jiu-jitzu rather than the laundry
list). Toward that end, your table of empathy surveys was very helpful
as we dug into empathy measurement tools, so thank you!
Let me know if an interview still makes sense and when you might have
some openings. My schedule varies, but other than the 4th of July week,
I should be able to make time.
May 15, 2013 - Empathy is a Contact Sport…Bleeding Hearts
Need Not Apply
"Paul Bloom gives important and eloquent voice to the critics of
“empathy” in his recent piece in the New Yorker. I read it with great
interest, respect, and gratitude to him for shining a light on how the
idea of empathy can be misperceived and misused, especially politically.
Much of the confusion lies in various interpretations of what “empathy”
is and is not...
I agree with Bloom: “it is impossible to empathize with seven billion
strangers, or to feel toward someone you’ve never met the degree of
concern you feel for a child, a friend, or a lover. Our best hope for
the future is not to get people to think of all humanity as
family—that’s impossible. It lies, instead, in an appreciation of the
fact that, even if we don’t empathize with distant strangers, their
lives have the same value as the lives of those we love.” "
Human needs - meaning, growth, be whole - a
currency of empathy
meaning - a higher purpose
Psychopathy and if organizations sap our empathy - then
May 30-31, 2013 - Ahsoka Future Forum Building
Changemaker Teams: Activating Empathy at Work
"Innovative leaders increasingly see empathy as a critical skill,
allowing people and teams to effectively spot and advance ideas that are
invisible in traditional hierarchies. From janitor to CEO, empathy
enables all to engage with the vision in fundamentally new ways and work
across limiting silos to imagine and realize creative solutions. At a
time when organizations form and dissolve more rapidly than ever,
nimble, trust-enabled cultures - even in large companies and
organizations – are critical to problemsolving, idea-generation, and
continuous learning. Explore the link between empathy and leadership,
innovation, and overall performance, and discover social
entrepreneur-led solutions that can help you transform your team."
In terms of topics for us, I believe I have experience
and fresh perspectives on these things in particular:
1) Why empathy helps drive innovation (and sharpens the whole picture of
“healthy workplaces” “perform better”, a case McKinsey and others have
made, but with long lists of what levers to pull). Empathy brings it all
into focus. This is my experience in almost 20 years of client work and
is the focus of research we’re designing now.
2) What the importance of empathy means for how our leadership
development models should change, so people can lean into what builds
empathy as opposed to leaning into what’s there now and away from their
families/communities/etc. This also takes into account early childhood
development. A personal story/antidote of work/family balance, starting
with leaning in full throttle through the birth of 2 children. Focusing
on empathy would thus drive long sought after but elusive inclusion (in
the virtuous loop with innovation also).
3) Why empathy is vital and under emphasized in STEM education and STEM
industries…and how this also stunts innovation. We need science,
engineering, math, coding, etc WITH A HUMAN FACE if we are to build an
abundant world (possible now, with the science and tech we know today –
4) Why all of this is on solid spiritual ground, whether we practice
Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Islam….or yoga. We are build to do big
things in collaboration with each other, but our reductionist
organizations geared toward industrial efficiency sap our humanity.
These are the things I’m consistently compelled to communicate as I see
missing pieces in what’s out there.
The org behavior people talk about their stuff and the innovation people
(where I started) talk about how to be smarter and more creative, but
the two camps don’t overlap. And the spiritual and business realms never
really interact meaningfully in popular culture.
I’ll think more about how to focus our discussion as I read the links
you sent. Basically, I’m leveraging some amount of practice/study/depth
in business, science, parenting/early childhood development, spiritual
studies, psychology to try and help solve what’s increasingly worried me
as an unsustainable path for our country. So, these are my perspectives.
I want to move CEO’s and support/encourage intrapraneurs so that things
might shift for the better in time for today’s children.
Here are some questions we can explore during the interview.
How can we build a culture of empathy?
i.e. raise the level of empathy in
Value? What's your most important personal value?
How did you develop it?
Do you have a story of when you
learned an insight into it?
What is your metaphor of what empathy is like? Explain?
( ) What is a physical metaphor. (make a body movement)
What does that feel like in your body?
What is your metaphor of what the
opposite of empathy is like? Explain?
What does that feel like in your body?
What would a culture of empathy look like?
What's the metaphor for a
culture of empathy?
"When did you first discover the power of empathy?"
Create a dialog between the two.
( ) How can we build a culture of empathy?
What are the obstacles to deepening empathy?
( ) How to overcome the obstacle?
Are there questions that you would like me to ask you