April 19, 2013

The Reciprocity Ring

In a new book, Give and Take, written by Adam Grant, I read about an exercise which was developed by Wayne and Cheryl Baker of Humax. The exercise is called The Reciprocity Ring and it can be used in any group such as a family, a class or a team in an organization. it works as follows. Each member of the group makes a request to the rest of the group and all the other group members use their knowledge, resources, and connections to help fulfill that request. The approach has several interesting strengths:
  1. As Grant explains research shows that at work, the vast majority of giving that occurs between people is in response to direct requests for help. Yet most people are rather reluctant to ask for help. The Reciprocity Ring, as a structured exercise makes it easier to ask for help. Since everybody asks for help there is no need for embarrassment. This alone makes it more likely that people in the group will start helping each other. 
  2. People who are already inclined to help and to share are helped by the exercise because the explicit requests give them a sense of direction and help them understand how they can help effectively. 
  3. Surprisingly, also people who are normally less inclined to help others, tend to be quite generous during the Reciprocity Ring Exercise. This happens because the process of helping is public. They usually realize that not helping and giving would make them look selfish and unfriendly which would be bad for their reputation. Therefore they tend help and give too. 
This exercise creates a context in a group in which helping and giving becomes easier and more desirable. 

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