The Power of Community

In the summer of 2017, Hurricane Harvey came ashore near Houston, Texas. A professional athlete, JJ Watt, was moved to extend an offer of help. He pledged the first $100,000 dollars in donations to support the recovery of his adopted city and encouraged others to donate to equal his initial donation. He published this over social media and waited for his followers and friends to rise to the challenge. His challenge was successful.

Within one day his personal donation was far surpassed and in 19 days, his fund amassed an incredible $37 million dollars. One reason behind this astounding response was the desire to unite to assist others, to be part of a community that sought to care for others who were hurting and needed help. People wanted to be part of a community that sought to help others.

Repeatedly we find reminders of the power that a few like-minded individuals can wield when they work together towards a common goal. Whether it be when a sports team rallies to win a game, or when a company, united by the vision of the CEO, is able to produce consistent positive results. What is behind these stories? Why is this a recurring theme that we continue to repeat?

There is power in working together. MIT professor Dr. Peter Senge conducted research and wrote a book that details the effectiveness of groups of people united around a common goal; each learning and contributing to help achieve that outcome. His book, The Fifth Discipline: The art and practice of the learning organization has become one of the foundations of collaboration in the work place.

In some fields this collaborative effort is no longer described as one way to work, it is espoused as the way to work. In these environments we get a glimpse of the effectiveness of like-minded individuals who are equipped to have productive discussions around similar topics, with a shared result in mind. In essence, Senge suggests that “learning communities” in the workplace serve to drive performance.

Consider your own situation. Do the people that you manage or that you work with share a sense of community? Are there common goals and experiences that you share, understand, and which help to guide decisions? Does your community hold itself accountable to those shared results? Do you think that your work environment would improve if these things were present?

Have you ever considered why school principals, lawyers, doctors, executives, human resource managers, sales people and many others, all seek to create or join professional and trade associations? Why do these busy, and generally successful people take time from their schedules, and away from their core businesses? A significant part of the answer to that question is that they seek to find others who share the same experiences, and think like they do.

As a dental care provider, you may also belong to a professional organization. However, the dental industry is changing rapidly, and a new support group may be in order. Some dentists and equity partners are seeing value in associating with a select group of individuals who think alike, have similar business interests and share a common set of experiences.

These entrepreneurial dentists have spent time to develop business skills and recognize how to run their business rather than letting their business run them. They are having a powerful impact within their local communities and are developing recognition within the dental business. Perhaps most importantly, they support each other within this community to realize their dreams and actualize their plans.

What will this community, equipped with shared skills and interests achieve within the changing dental landscape?

Regardless of endeavor we natively recognize that working together is more effective than working alone. Too often we get buried in our day-to-day grind and lose sight of the importance of working together and benefitting from others experiences. Rather, we should build in time, and spend the energy to invest in a community. This investment can yield tremendous returns; returns that cannot be realized when we continue to strive on our own.

John Budish has recently transitioned from a 20-year career in education where he served first as a high school science teacher, and then in both building leadership and curriculum development roles. He is excited to bring his expertise in adult learning and leadership development to the private sector.

In his role at Henry Schein Dental, John is responsible for developing and expanding the offerings available through the Dental Business Institute, as well as providing leadership related to the educational offerings within the Business Solutions division.

John is a graduate of Marquette University and Cardinal Stritch University. He also earned a certification in Organizational Development from the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee’s School of Continuing Education.