Customer collaboration: exploiting the Hawthorne Effect
Way back in the 1930’s researchers from Harvard Business School were running employee feedback research on various proposed innovations in their working conditions on behalf of the telecoms giant Western Electric (now Lucent). The results were quite amazing: they had discovered the Hawthorne Effect.
The Hawthorne Effect: how to win friends and influence people
For example, this is what the Harvard researchers found:
Brighter lighting conditions resulted in better productivity but then later they also discovered that dimmer lighting produced the same effects.
Shorter working hours were tested and they also improved productivity but then surprise, surprise so did longer working hours.
So as a result of this research the Hawthorne Effect was discovered:
"if you seriously involve others in trialing, testing, reviewing and suggesting improvements in your work/products they will inevitably become positively disposed to it and be among its biggest champions"
Applications of the Hawthorne Effect
So what is the application of the Hawthorne Effect?
Simple – in any team collaboration effort ensure you get your product to your customers and potential users at the earliest possible stage and make it clear to them that you really need their help in improving it.
The Hawthorne Effect is also one of the underlying principles of viral, word-of-mouth and buzz marketing which has proved so successful in fueling growth in recent internet ventures such as Skype by using the Hawthorne Effect with key opinion leaders. Use of the effect in this context is described in more detail in Connected Marketing by Justin Kirby and Paul Marsden.
In biological terms the parallel to close customer collaboration is, of course, Symbiosis which is applied to organisational teams in How symbiotic is your collaboration.
Bioteams Books Reviews
A few months ago I read the book "Leadership and Self-Deception". Then I became a friend of the Arbinger Institute, went through some training with them in London and may be involved with them in the future. So I suppose the book inspired me – here’s why! Guest book review by Mario Gastaldi.