Tagged: relationships

Fifty nine (i)

I brought William up to speed at our monthly lunch the following day.

“Why do you call it social business then? Why not biological business?”

He emphasized ‘biological’ with a smattering of derision.

“I mean all that fancy computing and number crunching stuff doesn’t sound very social. Actually, it doesn’t sound very biological either.”

I fought an urge to be defensive as he continued: “And I’m afraid none of the other companies I work with, on whose boards I sit, are going anywhere near this sort of thing. They’re discussing social media and social campaigns and social mentions and social sentiment. They’re talking about SoLoMo and social monitoring and running social software internally. Heck, some of them talk about social so much they’re basically social business by saturation.

“But biology? No. Can’t say as it’s cropped up once.”

I was a tire and I’d just been given a hefty kick. I took my time to think, and I was about to say something when William finished his challenge.

“No. Nothing. Nothing about interneurons that’s for sure! Nothing about influence flows.”

This was serious. I felt a heat in my cheeks. I bought time chasing the remnants of Sachertorte and whipped cream around my plate.

I finished dessert and held up my phone: “Dictionary meaning of social.”

I avoided the offering from the website renowned for having more cookies than Nabisco. I found a definition and read out loud.

“Of or relating to human society, the interaction of the individual and the group, or the welfare of human beings as members of society. Tending to form cooperative and interdependent relationships with others.”

We both reflected on that for a few seconds before I ventured further.

“Good business is about cooperative and interdependent relationships, always has been, yet the humanity was lost when organizations scaled way up during the 20th Century. We want to make those relationships more human again, but the answer can’t be to scale it all back down. We have to scale something else up.

Forty three (ii)

“Didn’t think so! Instead, we need to add layers of understanding to the information network and ultimately the influence flow through the analysis of relationships, behaviors and knowledge.

“In mapping the continually changing relationships in an organization – and I don’t define the organization as stopping at the payroll – we can distil a picture of the real organization. I guess you could call it the unofficial or real org chart if doing so didn’t still conjure up outmoded ideas of hierarchy and bureaucracy.

“In mapping the continually changing behaviors – proclivities, both analogue and digital – we improve our understanding of how information and knowledge jumps the organization’s synaptic gaps.

“In mapping knowledge formation – we learn what aids and what hinders the organization’s facility to understand, predict and respond to its environment. This is of course the hardest task of all when you consider that organizations rarely if ever know what they know let alone really understand how such knowledge crystallizes in the first place.”

“Glad I asked,” John said.

Yvonne tried to clarify what Saket was saying, “So, people talk about social networks as enabling easy sharing – I think the expression is ‘frictionless sharing’. Is that what you’re saying will happen inside organizations too? You know, like many companies, we’re still effectively experimenting with a so-called enterprise social network.”

“An excellent question Yvonne, and I think we’ll discuss this further in the last part of the day in terms of social business. Friction is an important parameter of any system. What do I mean by that? Well, imagine Eli feels no friction sharing everything with you. Everything he does, everywhere he goes, everyone he meets is streamed – perhaps dumped is a better word – onto your desktop. Nice eh? Not really. The friction, the resistance or burden in the process has just moved from Eli to you. Why would you want all this clutter and what are you going to do with it?”

Saket paused for thought momentarily; adopting a look I’ve associated with him searching for a way to hit the idea home.

“You need tools to surface the right information at the right time in the right format from Eli’s stream, and John’s stream, and BB’s stream, but we also need synaptic gaps so that some stuff doesn’t jump the gap and make it into the stream in the first place. It helps if Eli, John and BB are a bit self-selecting in what makes it into their stream. They have to be curators of their own stream up to a point. Let’s look at in terms of personal reputation.”

Saket had made a connection with Yvonne by picking the right words, framing it in a way he knew would get her brain fired up, and have her carry the idea into Attenzi.

“Everyday, in the non-digital world, we make thousands of little decisions about what to share with others based on our quantifying how relevant we think they’d find it. It’s so natural that we hardly notice we’re doing it. If we go to them with stuff that doesn’t make the grade, they’re increasingly reluctant to entertain us in future and our reputation is effectively eroded. I believe that process has to live on in the digital world.”

I was stupid enough to show my agreement.

“Love it Saket.”

“Ah, but do you?” he replied.

Damn it, I thought, I’ve missed something.