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Transforming IT Culture: How to Use Social Intelligence, Human Factors and Collaboration to Create an IT Department That Outperforms by Frank Wander

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Chapter 9

The Social Compact

Organizational Citizenship Behavior

Let people realize clearly that every time they threaten someone or humiliate or unnecessarily hurt or dominate or reject another human being, they become forces for the creation of psychopathology, even if these be small forces. Let them recognize that every person who is kind, helpful, decent, psychologically democratic, affectionate, and warm, is a psychotheraputic force, even though a small one.

—Abraham Maslow

Information technology (IT) is all about behavior—prosocial behavior. I have turned around many organizations that failed because of socially toxic leadership. Based on my experience, nothing influences productivity and organizational effectiveness more than behavior when groups of individuals have to collaborate to accomplish something. You can promote the mission and try to spread the culture, but what gets acted out broadly across a division or narrowly in isolated pockets, becomes the social norm. This behavior can range from horribly antisocial, to warmly prosocial, or anything in between. What’s true is that inconsistency is the rule. It needn’t be.

Of course, I have seen great variation in behavior across divisions and departments, regardless of the corporate values. My experience is that the workers were always socially sensitive to the power hierarchy, so what they said, and how they acted, was determined mostly by the tone at the top of their local organization. In a social system, understanding ...

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