1. Solving their own needs --> 2. Asking others what they want --> 3. Tapping into a mission with wider relevance.

Many businesses start off doing something for themselves. Leveraging a talent to build a product, or create a service that satisfies their own needs. For example: Apple started because the two Steves had a need to build a computer. This is step 1.

As their product or service took off in the market, businesses will start wanting to understand what their customers want, so as to create new offerings and increase custom. They will look at market research, conduct focus groups, and also SWAT/competitive analyses. This is step 2.

If companies stop at step 2, by establishing “methods for figuring out what the rest of the world wants. …they often lose their clarity and passion in the process. … they’re asking people what they want without really knowing why they want it. They have understanding without empathy. That can result in a lot of really awful solutions.”

If a business is unable to tap into a greater mission for what they do, they will continue to struggle with issues of relevance, alignment of goals to actions, and true differentiation. They will be less able to deeply connect with customers.

The same goes for individuals. We all want a sense of a greater purpose for our working lives. Otherwise it is only a means to an end. A means that could cost us the chance to live our full lives.

From Wired to Care by Dev Paitnaik with Peter Mortensen. ISBN 0-13-714234-X.

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Wired to Care: How Companies Prosper When They Create Widespread Empathy