One of the more heart-warming stories to zoom around the Internet lately involves a young man, his dying grandmother, and a bowl of clam chowder from Panera Bread. It’s a little story that offers big lessons about service, brands, and the human side of business—a story that underscores why efficiency should never come at the expense of humanity.

Marketing types have latched on to this story as an example of the power of social media and “virtual word-of-mouth” to boost a company’s reputation. But I see the reaction to the gesture as an example of something else—the hunger among customers, employees, and all of us to engage with companies on more than just dollars-and-cents terms. In a world that is being reshaped by the relentless advance of technology, what stands out are acts of compassion and connection that remind us what it means to be human.

My new post for HBR explains why “It’s More Important to Be Kind than Clever.” You can read it here.