Empathy is feeling for others. This could mean feeling for your clients, or your employees, or your supporters, end-users... the list goes on. Corporations don't have built in empathy. They must develop this through processes.
The natural processes for this are those used in communication.
What has communication come to mean in our corporate society? Someone in charge of "communication" in a business is judged by how well he gets others to want to buy the product or service offered. Think of what this implies. It implies telling people something. Corporate communication is not about listening. It is about yelling.
Paradoxically listening is the key to expression.
When communication processes are attuned to listening the needs of the people, the corporation increases their value to living, breathing everyday human beings. By only selectively listening to these needs, they create frustration and anguish on which they feed. Their value becomes solely financial in this case.
The majority of corporations operate on this model. Apple Computers, for example, like many companies/industries are still building their entire business models on ways to sell you things you do not need nor want. They do this through carefully planned obsolescence. It is their way of "asking" you to renew your equipment.
In Apple's case, there are multiple details which only add up to frustration after a number of these details add up.
The i-Phone 4S will start to show signs of battery age through quirks in the battery charge indicator (sometimes cutting you of with 40% charge left). Your old Macbook pro cannot be upgraded to the latest OS even though it has plenty of power and memory to support it. It is simply too old to be considered by Apple. The laptop cannot be "upgraded" later with more RAM. And other small compatibility quirks and your frustration level rises. After a while, you go replacing a perfectly good computer almost convinced that it is normal.
The "almost" is important in the above sentence. Because deep down inside you aren't convinced it's normal. But you know everyone does this type of manipulation, therefore you accept it as the norm. But it is not natural. It feeds on a need it is creating. Just like a drug pusher.
These are common concepts in marketing: "Creating the need" & "Locking effects" are taught in school and written out in Business Plans.
I haven't sat in Apple's board of Directors, so I do not know how much time and effort they dedicate to this. But I have sat on smaller companies' Boards, and that pre-occupation is paramount. Communication, legal departments, production, design... all parts of the company are specifically designed to operate on the premise of creating a need and locking the client.
As consumers, maybe it's time to stop accepting commercial blackmail because we "want" something that really doesn't fill a need. This requires getting in touch with our real needs.
As entrepreneurs and corporations, Maybe it's time we give up the narcotrafficker business model and start really giving honest value to users and customers. Maybe it's time to offer what is really needed, and stop "creating" needs for what we produce in excess.
Feel with your community. Live.