Atticus Finch, the wise country father and country lawyer literary character, in Harper Lee’s classic “To Kill a Mockingbird”, communicated one of the more timeless and poignant descriptions of what empathy means. Understanding another person’s point of view or plight, especially when it is removed from yours, requires one to “climb in his skin and walk around in it,” he says.
Flash forward to today in this renaissance era in open stack development. While the act of understanding the “other” is critical in any context, empathy in the software development world is also especially important in a number of often surprisingly ways. Denise Yu, a senior software engineer at Pivotal, recently described in her The New Stack post “Why Empathy in Open Source Matters More Than You Think” just how broadly taking into account the wants and needs of others counts when dealing with colleagues, end-use software customers and people in general.
Yu writes “Even without the financial motivations, empathy is something that we as product builders should care about because it is the right thing to do.” In a podcast hosted by The New Stack’s Joab Jackson, managing editor, at Cloud Foundry Summit North America last week in Philadelphia, Yu was able to continue her discussion on empathy and why it is so important in the software development sector. Jai Schniepp, product owner for cloud and Security at Liberty Mutual Insurance, also offered more details based on in-house practices and processes on why thinking of the other is critical.