I have recently begun reading a book and have just completed an article that both dealt with the same subject, the innate helpfulness that seems to be in most humans.  This may seem strange given what we see on the news and read in the popular press.  In my opinion, this has implications for changing your company’s culture and improving a variety of business outcomes, most especially your company’s customer service.

The book I mentioned is entitled, A Cooperative Species: Human Reciprocity and its Evolution.  I have not finished it yet as it is a challenging read.  The authors review many studies on human evolution and conclude that while we have traditionally thought that the survival of the fittest has underpinned human evolution, they come to a contrary conclusion.  Humans, by their nature, tend to be wired for reciprocity (you extend a favor to me and I will do the same for you).  I am looking forward to finishing this book.

A more focused and easier to read article is from the McKinsey Quarterly.  It is entitled, “Givers Take All: The Hidden Dimension of Corporate Culture.”  The article presents several very convincing summaries of research studies.  Perhaps the most interesting is one done after 9/11.  The researchers looked at what made various intelligence teams in the military more effective.  They started with a list of factors that they thought would be important (e.g., having a clear vision, well-defined roles, appropriate rewards and recognitions, etc.) to predicting team effectiveness.  However, what these researchers discovered was their list was not complete.  The one factor they had not considered was the amount of help analysts on the team gave each other.  The article goes on to talk about similar findings in banks, consulting and engineering firms.  It also talks about the positive impact this helping-behavior has on revenues, profits, customer service and a variety of other business outcomes.

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In the next post I plan to discuss in more detail the implications this has for a business organization. In the meantime, consider:

-Does your organization encourage helping-behavior or does it tend to let people “fight it out on their own?”

-How might helping-behavior cause customer service to improve?  I can think of many ways here.


I welcome your thoughts and feedback on this.  This is an interesting bit of research that has implications for the business world.

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