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In 2005, LEGO, the Danish toy maker, took the technology community by surprise when they cheered the hacking of its 3D modelling platform called LEGO Factory. Executives initially fancied the idea of legal action as an archetypal corporate reaction especially since the company still struggled to recuperate from near bankruptcy.

Yet, upon a closer look, it turned out that the hackers were part of a well-coordinated colony of dexterous LEGO aficionados. Discovering inefficiencies in the system brought out through the intrusion, the hackers sought to create a database that would optimize the number of exact bricks a consumer needed. The action would minimize the amount customers would spend, contrary to the original version of the software developed by LEGO whereby one had to purchase a whole bag with far more bricks than one required. Fleshing out the problem, LEGO put itself into the shoes of its ardent consumers. Instead of filing a law suit as originally intended, it switched gears and engaged the hackers.

Tormod Askildsen, LEGO’s Head of Community Development at the time was quoted saying “our lawyers were ready to go after these consumers and say, “you cannot do that.” But we also realized that there was a lot of talent and a lot of very great skills out there in the community. Yes, they are tinkering with our product, but they are improving it. So what happened was that we basically let consumers hack this, and that is the amazing thing. If you trust your consumers, then they may do something that is actually a benefit. The LEGO brand is not owned by us. It’s owned by the consumers. We own the trademark, yes, but the brand lives in the minds of the consumers.” What happened at LEGO was a classical performance of cognitive empathy in a corporate environment.

The 18th century British philosopher David Hume once remarked that “the minds of men are mirrors to one another”. In the early 1990’s, Italian researchers at Parma University made a riveting discovery. Through a series of experiments done on monkeys, they figured out that certain sets of neurons within the premotor cortex fired both when the monkey grabbed an object and also when it observed another primate grab the same object. These neurons were also recently found in human beings. They came to be known as mirror neurons. As such, they form the basis for understanding other individuals’ actions. The particular neurons facilitate empathy in that one experiences understanding of another person’s mental and emotional condition from their perspective. Thus human beings are naturally wired to empathize. Question is, why then should empathy take center stage in an organization’s efforts to turbocharge its performance?

Creativity and innovation have become the lifeblood of first-rate organizations like LEGO. Empathy serves as the engine of creativity and innovation. Business people often mistakenly think that empathy exists as a mere soft skill not taken seriously. However, empathy positively correlates with high performance. The Center for Creative Leadership analyzed data from 6,731 managers across 38 countries and found that empathy positively related to job performance. How does empathy specifically also promote creativity and innovation?

Researchers categorized empathy into cognitive and emotional empathy. Emotional empathy involves vicarious experiencing of another’s emotional state. Meanwhile, cognitive empathy entails the ability to accurately imagine another person’s feelings or thinking and even predict their subsequent behaviors. In the Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, Doris Kearns Goodwin describes Lincoln as a leader who possessed incredible levels of empathy. He held the gift or curse of putting himself in the place of another to experience what they were feeling. It allowed him to discern their motives and desires. A contemporary of the day, Hellen Nicolay, observed directly that Lincoln’s consummate gift for “political diagnosis” that arose from his empathic nature gave him “the power to forecast with uncanny accuracy what his opponents were likely to do.” Inasmuch, it is quite evident that Abraham Lincoln’s empathic capacity gave him a competitive edge when appraising situations and people. It was a source of insights that culminated into fireballs of political and military strategy, hence his competence.

In the corporate world, cognitive empathy aids both organizational and individual competence through integration of knowledge. It helps to explain why LEGO’s executives chose to see the problem from the hacker’s well-intentioned perspective which, of course, involved suspending their own initial security and legal concerns to become open to new knowledge that enhanced LEGO’s innovation. Individuals like Steve Jobs intuitively understood the importance of empathy so much so that he suggested a single set of bathrooms in the central atrium of Pixar’s building to force more interaction amongst animators, computer scientists and creative directors, paving the way for integration of knowledge. Through cognitive empathy, cross-fertilization of knowledge took place between professionals of seemingly unrelated fields resulting in cascades of juicy innovative ideas within an organization.

Emotional empathy, on the other hand, provides fertile ground for trust to flourish amongst employees. Communication between individuals who understand each other at a visceral level is spontaneous in character. Consequently, individuals share ideas without fear of being judged or ridiculed thus encouraging creativity in solving problems. A study conducted, in a manufacturing firm, by the neuro-economist Paul Zak, found that those in the top quartile of colleague closeness were 22% better at solving a difficult problem with others. They also enjoyed working on the problem 10% more than those in the lowest quartile of closeness. Ostensibly, such closeness can only occur when an individual emotionally empathizes and therefore results in spontaneity and in turn creative problem solving.

From the Danish toy company to the Oval Office, empathy is undoubtedly an engine that powers creativity and innovation. It would help executives and businessmen in Kenya to rethink the role of empathy in their innovative endeavors.

The article was first published on: http://www.businessdailyafrica.com/Empathy-engine-powers-creativity-innovation/539444-3842124-vr7tow/index.html

Are you for real? Are you sure you really want to go out in this weather of Mombasa?! It is either very hot, or too humid or raining or cloudy with mud and ponds of water from last night’s rain. Alright I get you. You probably have no option, do you? You need to buy the groceries, pick up your laundry, renew your passport, buy your child’s coughing syrup, send a parcel to Nairobi via bus etcetera etcetera. I totally get you. But do you know that you have a simpler way out of all of that?? Have you ever heard of ‘Nitume Online?

Nitume online is a company that was formed to help make your work easier at the comfort of your home and office.We will do your Mombasa errands for you. Here are some of the reasons why you should try out our services:

  1. Cheap: I know you had probably made an assumption that our services must be expensive but guess what?! Our costs can go to as low as 150/200/300 shillings per delivery and according to the services you need. Mind you we also do the shopping for you so isn’t that so worth it?!
  2. Timeliness: You don’t even have to worry about being late because it is simply out of our dictionary. You are going to have your stuff done/delivered before you even have time to complain.                                                   img-20161121-wa0006
  3. Safety: The way the world is right now, you can barely trust someone assisting you carry your luggage but here is the thing about nitume-online. We don’t out source people or vehicles to do our job, it’s all an inside job; our people, our vehicles. We therefore take responsibility of all that happens during their services. Worry out!     13319864_1716978655185543_5638814440969145447_n
  4. Perfect communication skills: Have you ever had to talk to customer service and you regretted why you did in the first place? Rude, being kept waiting for too long, no replies to questions etc None of that happens with us. We are always a call away with all the answers for your queries and requests.
  5. Convenience: It is a convenient for everyone. For the boss and the employee, the man and woman, the old and the young, the husband and the wife, in short; EVERYONE.
  6. Satisfaction: Client happy, we are happy too. It’s always a two way thing. Both parties win, both parties are satisfied.
  7. Offers: We do give offers from time to time. As of now, we have the ‘Wishful Wednesdays’ where your wish becomes a command 🙂 We offer free delivery hours between 9 a.m to 12 noon. This offer will be going on until January the 3rd, 2017.



Perhaps you should really try our services and find out for yourself what you’ve been missing all this time! log into: www.nitumeonline.co.ke or simply dial: 0708 099 099/0780 099 099.

P.S: We are currently hiring sales person to join our team. Please drop in your CV if interested: info@nitumeonline.co.ke

Photo Courtesy: http://photos.state.gov/

The beauty of it all is that we have other options to bring ourselves back at our feet. God has given each one of us a talent or an outstanding skill that could get us independent in our own way. It could be that you have a golden touch when it comes to art or that you can design clothes and much more. Whereas many underestimate jobs like hawking but some people have that outstanding skill and they could sell much within a few moments. Your personal skill or talent could be a good source of a business idea so make the best use of what you’ve been gifted with.In this era where hustling is the order of the day, we need more ideas to draw the youth away from idleness and joblessness that has been a challenge for quite a long time. Many have studied to far extents in universities and colleges and yet still suffer from the widespread disease known as ‘hakuna kazi.’ Our government does have a part of the blame for not creating job opportunities for the youth but if we are all going to sit down and wait for some rich firm to miraculously realize your great capabilities and offer you a job, then we would all be jobless in our homes. Many people who are diploma and even degree holders ended up doing totally different jobs from what they studied. While some ended up digging in their shambas at their homelands, others were left with no other option but to sell water around and much more else could be mentioned.


You don’t have to be extremely rich to start a small business of your own. The first step is to identify a business idea. Check around your environment, what business would be suitable according to the conditions there? If you notice that people are lacking hardware nearby and have to go far to get the stuff then that could be something to start with or maybe it could be that there isn’t any saloon around. If you have a good hand in designing clothes then you could start a tailoring shop somewhere. Make sure not to go for very common things like opening a shop while five steps from your house there is another shop too. Think big and wide. Let your mind wonder around.


The second step is sourcing this new business idea. Acquiring the money could be one of the most difficult steps in entrepreneurship but nowadays things have been made easier for us. We have so many banks and youth groups that help the youth fund their new businesses and projects. It just needs a determined person to take the risk and go ahead with the plan.

The next step is putting the plan into action and starting the business right away. Organize the required resources and ensure that you are good to go.


Always remember to be patient for there will be many challenges on the way. It will obviously take some time before people start appreciating your work and be regular customers. Learn the tactics of luring your customers into your business by giving them the best customer care possible. Remember, without them (your customers) you indeed have nothing.


Competition will eventually come your way but you must be brave enough and innovative to ensure that your business never goes down.


There will be times you may undergo failure but that is a phase all business persons go through so never give up and yet instead, come up with new ideas; better than before! So the time is now; don’t take all the time in the world thinking again and again on what to do. Invest and let yourself grow!