[dropcap2]C[/dropcap2]ollaboration is simultaneously man’s greatest achievement and our biggest mystery. Our ability to collaborate, to build roads, economies, smart phones, space ships, friendships, villages, cities, companies or to build tomorrows cools new gadgets, are all possible because we are social creatures; we cooperate. And yes – unfortunately – we do cooperate to conduct war or terrorism. But collaboration is such a pervasive and natural phenomena that we take it for granted; we don’t even stop to consider it. We just live it. And if we do think about the social collaboration, the task is daunting, very big and seemingly complex. But with ingenuity we are fast developing tools and methods to study the very fabric of what makes human social systems work. And in the true spirit of collaboration, Santa Fe Institute is offering a free online introductory class on Complexity Theory. So if you’ve ever wondered why or how the system works, consider taking their class. Check out their introductory video [youtube url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHE1Zk2Ov18″ width=”280″ height=”158″ autohide=”0″]
[dropcap2]M[/dropcap2]y wife recently forwarded me an article “Databases Offer Opportunity To Weed Out Retail Job Applicants Who Are Theft Risks” from her daily news. The article got my blood boiling. Nationally recognized retailers are creating a blacklist. People accused of petty theft and shoplifting are being routinely added to a Do Not Hire database without any due process. I’m not really surprised but it is just plain wrong – the Federal Trade Commission has begun investigating.
I do understand that companies will “network” together to collaborate and solve problems. In this case retailers, are trying to solve the age old theft problem that has plagued them since cavemen started bartering.
But as I look forward companies will soon be unable to unilaterally impose their will. With the massive connectedness of the internet, information roams free. Information is no longer controlled by any one entity (company, government, institution or individual). Information flows across the complete network “ecosystem.” This subtle change has profound consequences for companies trying to collaborate and share practices. Solving problems by reaching for the quickest solution, such as creating a black list are no longer sufficient. Quick solutions have a way of creating problems for other stakeholders. Since when do companies have a right to ignore due process and trample our valued, “innocent until proven guilty.”
This quick solution approach, is like the spiders perspective; they are masters of what gets caught in their small web. But with free roaming information they are likely to have their hard work trampled. On the other hand companies that embrace the entire ecosystem cannot get trampled. They are forever embedded in the system. Companies clinging to the old social network paradigms will find themselves stuck so much like the fly in the global web, and a snack soon forgotten.
Go ahead pull out your phone – it doesn’t matter if its a smart phone or the original 2-pound Motorola brick. Explain to your friend how the cell phone works. Some of you engineer types might make a good show of it. Now I’ll make the next question easier. List just 50% of the jobs needed to make that phone work. Here’s some to get you going: electrical engineers, software engineers, model makers, touch screen experts, power design engineers, cellular transmission experts… and the list goes on with store clerks, purchasing agents, quality control, shipping/receiving…and on and on. Technology is an incredible ecosystem. But like most ecosystems, there is an endangered species. Watch the following video
The endangered species is knowledge — The Knowledge to build, and create new technology. So the next time you take for granted technology, consider that someone has to make it all work. Consider who will build tomorrows technology? Help yourselves and help the next generation.
Everywhere you look there’s a social network. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, garner the most attention. People hype size. Internet pundits, marketers and especially those focused on search engine optimization (SEO) are constantly comparing the number or users and followers. But does size matter? Consider all the real life clubs, fraternities, churches, non-profits and alumni associations (and the list goes on and on) like the Rotary club and Elks club. Are they less important because they are smaller? Isn’t it about relationships and connections – others that you help and will help you back?
Consider your son or daughter (or when you were a child.) Could you imagine being on a really really big 100 person soccer team? It would be ridiculous. Value is created in small intimate relationships. This fascination with social network size is equally ridiculous. Consider next time you are pondering the size of you social network – does size matter?
Social Networks are all around us. Sociologist have long studied societies social fabric. But for most of us, social relationships are out of mind and out of sight. We have always just worked or played together. We connect with others so often that we don’t even notice those connections. Only because Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter display in big numbers your first, second and third degree networks that we have begun to question what do those connections really mean.
Like you, before my work at Lnx Research, I looked at networks as just something that resulted from networking. But now I’m an armchair sociologist. As a BizKnowlogist (one who studies business, knowledge and technology) I’ve read more than 200 peer review papers and other publications on social networks. I learned to translate that scientific gobbledy-gook into a common everyday understanding.
As an armchair sociologist my worldview has changed. Behind our everyday relationships, I see the universal patterns that occur over and over again. These patterns occur in all groups, from small group to really huge. They occur in our city designs, and our road systems. These patterns occur in rivers and trees; in our brains; in electronics and many other systems. The social patterns in California are the same patterns we find in China. I now look at everything as if it where a network — even the simple tree. The tree’s strength is not the trunk but the root system and branches that are giant networks gathering and distributing nutrients to its entire ecosystem.
In this blog I will share with you my thoughts on social networks, how to analyze them, and how to create strategies to create an impact.
* Image from http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/ Artist:arztsamui
I had a chance to hear the quirky market innovator and disrupter, Seth Godin speak. He gets it. In his new book, “The Iccarus Deception” the world is a different place. Its connected. The rules your parents taught you do not apply. The rulers that taught you not to fly too close to the sun are wrong. Connections are not limited to the workplace. You can create new connections anywhere. You can create something new and connect to anyone. Innovation and creating something new is not a scare commodity. Go forth and create something new and connect. Available on Amazon
Welcome to BizKnowlogy. Looking at an old Apple II reminds me how far the world has changed in less than 40 years. The Apple II seems ancient. If feels like I’m visiting a museum and seeing Thomas Edison’s telegraph machine. The Apple was clunky; it was slow; it was expensive – costing over $5,000 in today’s dollars; it had no virtually no memory, holding a whopping 4,096 characters.
Today we have smart phones, tablet computing and smart devices everywhere. Facebook has more than a billion customers. Google answers more than a billion searches every day quickly and with remarkable precision. Amazon and Ebay sell millions of products, bringing customers and vendors together from around the world. The internet now connects 34%, nearly 2½ Billion of the globe’s 7B people.
We have clearly left the information age behind and entered the connected age. This hyper connectedness changes the boundaries; it changes the rules. These changes, profoundly impact us. BizKnowlogy operates to connect with people, companies and organizations working in this new connected age, to understand it, to leverage it and to drive innovation for a better future today.