The Benefit of Interactions

Researchers Geoffrey West and Luis Bettencourt have discovered interesting characteristics about cities in the United States, namely that cities with denser populations spur greater productivity from each resident.  The denser the population, the greater the number of patents per person, for example.  The more people living near you, the greater your salary.

When the researchers looked at big cities with populations spread out into single family homes and with much less density, productivity decreased measurably.  Density brings us in contact with more people, and the more people we cross paths with, the more we benefit.

As Jonah Lehrer goes on to explain in his book Imagine, this is why Silicon Valley became the center of innovation while Route 128 in Massachusetts did not.  The start ups in Silicon Valley, which grew into giants such as Apple, Intel, and Oracle were once struggling companies.  Employees mingled and often switched jobs between the start-ups, bringing cross pollination of ideas, much like you get with a densely populated city.

But on Route 128 in Massachusetts, established technology giants at the time did not encourage the same interaction.  These companies were more like a spread out urban landscape with far fewer encounters.

What can we learn from this?  Keeping ideas within the practice and team is not the best way to grow.  We benefit from interacting with others.  Consider active involvement with study clubs and dental societies, and do not dismiss the value of having lunch with your colleagues.  By having more interactions with other dentists and dental teams, your practice will benefit. You never know when the next class or lunch will lead to an idea that makes your patient experience even better or helps you improve treatment acceptance.

The research is clear.  Get out there and meet people.

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