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One Microsoft secret: empathy

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in Leaders & Managers

What difference does empathy make in business?

The answer is most visible in the tales of two major product launches from the same company: the Xbox and Zune from Microsoft.

Both gadgets received similar amounts of research, design and engineering resources. Yet the Xbox became an overnight sensation while the boxy Zune flopped.

What led Microsoft teams to deliver a great performance in one case and a dud in the other? Empathy.

As one member of the team confided: “The biggest challenge with Zune was trying to figure out who we were building it for. With Xbox, we knew those guys. Hell, we were those guys.”

Lesson: The ability to see the world through customers’ eyes helps you see new opportunities faster than competitors, take risks on something new and have the passion to stick with it. 

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