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Empathy has become a buzzword. Many conflate empathy with merely being sensitive to, feeling for, or behaving nicely toward others. Some even argue that empathy is mutually exclusive with reason.


Isn’t it time we set the record straight so we can focus our efforts on realizing the full potential of empathy instead of arguing about it?

Based on 20 years of first-hand experience in...

  1. New product & service development
  2. Anthropological research into the visual & performing arts
  3. Service as personal coach to CEOs
... Seung Chan Lim (Slim) argues that at the heart of all effective creative processes is the realization of empathy in the face of tension.

Slim is known for delivering powerful stories, easy-to-understand models, and immersive experiences both to provoke and to promote a different way of not only thinking about empathy, but also being empathic with ourselves and others.

Most notably, Slim challenges our blind promotion of problem solving and compassion so as to encouarage us to also learn the difficult art of ‘realizing empathy.’

To learn more about the idea, check out the book Realizing Empathy: An Inquiry Into the Meaning of Making.

intended audiences

CEOs, Managers, or Team Leads

Corporate Intrapreneurs or Change Agents
Healthcare Professionals

Designers, Engineers, or Consulting Experts

keynote synopsis

Most of us were trained to problem solve. Most also assume problem solving to be the quintessential form of help, service, or care. This assumption and expertise around problem solving can not only serve us well, but also poorly. Because despite our best intentions, problem solving does not always solve problems. In fact, it can even make things worse.

In his keynote, Slim will share stories from his life as well as from the CEOs he has coached. The stories will highlight why problem solving fails or makes things worse—especially in the context of leadership and collaborative teamwork—and why “realizing empathy” works better in such situations.

Learning Objectives:
  1. Understand the difference between empathy, empathizing, realizing empathy unintentionally, and intentionally creating the conditions in which we can realize empathy.
  2. Understand the difference between not empathizing, empathizing, and hyper-empathizing.
  3. Understand how care and compassion can fuel problem solving.
  4. Understand how problem solving can sometimes not only be ineffective, but also make things worse.
  5. Understand the difference between innovation & problem solving.
  6. Understand why we must innovate first before problem solving, when problem solving fails.
  7. Understand how realzing empathy enables innovation.
  8. Understand why switching from a problem solver’s mindset to a paradox dissolver’s mindset is required to realize our empathy.
  9. Understand why it’s critical to realize empathy through one’s “self” instead of merely catering or accommodating to “others.”

This is not a keynote speech. It is a short talk shared as a sample.

relevance to audiences


CEOs, Managers, or Team Leads

As leaders we see problems everywhere. Disengaged, entitled, or underperforming subordinates are merely one of them. But let us take a moment to step back and reflect on our own practice. To confront the possibility that our tendency to problem solve may be part of the problem. That such tendency may not only be hurting our team members’ performance and pushing them away to disengage, but also draining our own energy and overwhelming our minds in the process. Let us challenge ourselves to learn a new approach to leadership other than problem solving. An approach we can use when problem solving makes things worse. An approach that can not only help our team members develop and engage, but also revitalize our own energy instead of draining it.

Healthcare Professionals

As healthcare professionals, we often pride ourselves for caring enough to help solve other people’s problem. But let us take a moment to step back and reflect on our own practice. To confront the reality that our patients don’t always appreciate our care. Not only that, but that we’re becoming mired in resentment and indiganance on top of our already stressful daily routines. Let us challenge ourselves to ponder the possibility that a new approach to care other than problem solving may be necessary to break us out of our vicious cycle. An approach we can use when problem solving makes things worse. An approach that can not only provide better care for the people we serve, but also revitalize our own energy instead of draining it.

Corporate Intrapreneurs or Chage Agents

As intrapreneurs & change makers we are constantly met with resistance to change. Yet, we still persevere through our passion for problem solving to serve a greater purpose and impact. But let us take a moment to step back and reflect on our own practice. To confront the possibility that our tendency to problem solve may be fueling the resistance. Let us challenge ourselves to learn a new approach to change other than problem solving. An approach we can use when problem solving makes things worse. An approach that can not only better serve our purpose and impact, but also revitalize our own energy instead of draining it.

Designers, Engineers, or Consulting Experts

As designers, engineers, or consultants, we are experts at what we do and eager to problem solve with our expertise. What’s odd is that some of our co-workers or clients resist our expertise. In fact, sometimes the very people who hired us for our expertise resist our expertise. But let us take a moment to step back and reflect on our own practice. To confront the possibility that our tendency to problem solve may be fueling the resistance. Let us challenge ourselves to learn a new approach to producing solutions other than problem solving. An approach we can use when problem solving makes things worse. An approach that can not only get our expertise used, but also revitalize our own energy instead of draining it.

interviews


SAP TechEd Live 2017 in Barcelone, Spain.

SAP TechEd Live 2016 in Barcelona, Spain.

selected sponsors + venues