Lessons to be learned from Robert McNamara and a pair of long-handled toenail clippers

Jeremy Bullmore

Empathy doesn't just mean being cuddly – it means learning to see through your customers' eyes.

Imagine two people, one on either side of a canal.

The first one shouts across: "How do I get to the other side?"

The second one shouts back: "You are on the other side!"

At the heart of this primitive joke lies a form of blindness that has probably contributed to more wars, divorces, family alienations, political failures and wastes of marketing money than any other single cause. Yet many of us still communicate as if bound by a blindfold.

At the risk of being laborious, let's return to that canal.

Each has assumed that what is true for him is true for the other. It rarely is.

For Person One, 'the other side' is the other side; but it's not, of course, for Person Two. For Person Two, Person One is already on 'the other side'; but not, of course, for Person One.