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"In union, there is strength." Aesop

There is no denying that we live in tumultuous times. Given our fractious society and our equally fragmented work environments, there is more discontent and discord than ever. The need to come together - to unify - is rapidly becoming a strategic imperative. But unity is an enigma: How do we connect with people who are dissimilar? How do we reach those with whom we have nothing in common or who have different perspectives? The good news is that science may have the answer.

Unity. In 30 Minutes or Less.

As the result of an intensive study, researcher recently discovered that engaging in one simple process caused "individuals to collaborate closely, reach compromises, and display empathy" - without coaching, without prompting, and in a completely organic way. The process: ordering pizza.

Researchers discovered an astonishing trend, even among extremely diverse and/or large groups: there is a 'remarkable behavioral dynamic in which choosing a place from which to order, selecting the size and number of pizzas, and placing a phone call led individuals to come together and work earnestly toward the fulfillment of mutual goals," study co-author Linda Kolat said.

The same people who couldn't come to a consensus on even minor decisions, such as the font for a new brochure or who was going to be responsible for taking minutes at the next meeting, were suddenly able to work collaboratively, efficiently, and with results that satisfied every team member.

The research team observed study participants actively listening to one another and even making sacrifices for the good of the whole - e.g. giving up green peppers because Jill from accounting thinks they taste like old socks or opting for extra cheese and extra pepperoni because Tim from HR didn't eat breakfast and is "extra" hungry.

Just the Beginning

Research like this, from eminent and reliable sources, provides a springboard for results in your own organization. How can you implement these findings and use them to create enhanced results, more engaged employees, a healthier bottom line?

Pizza is only the beginning. Your people could work as collaboratively - and as compassionately - when, say, ordering Chinese food. To facilitate opportunities that encourage this behavior, try:
  • Requiring your people to work until at least 9:00pm several times a week - giving them the chance to order food together. As a team.
  • Throwing them a curveball: tell them Tony's, their favorite pizza place, is closed. How will they deal with this obstalce? Will they overcome? Watch them - they will surprise you at how quickly they adapt.
  • Giving them your corporate card and telling them it's on you. What better way to build relationships and foster team spirit?

The truth is that we cannot ignore any strategy that brings our people together. If it's pizza, it's pizza. Eat up.


Larry Hart

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