Tag Archives: social networking

Social Sensitivity Leads to High Performing Groups

Here is a transcript from a recent 60 second science report from the Scientific American:

Groups with Good Social Skills Outperform the Merely Smart

Groups of two to five members who interacted with each other best outperformed groups whose individual members had higher intelligence scores.

Karen Hopkin reports:

If Alice is smart, and Bob’s even smarter, working together they would A) be twice as smart, B) be half as smart or C) form a task force and get nothing done. According to new research, the answer is none of the above. It would actually depend on how well they get along.

What makes a group good at what it does? A team of scientists put their collective heads together and divided volunteers into groups of two to five. And they asked these groups to perform a variety of tasks, from brainstorming answers to questions like “What can you do with a brick?” to team typing blocks of complicated text.

What the researchers found is that the intelligence of individual group members was not a good predictor of how well the group as a whole performed. The teams that did best rated high in social sensitivity: their members interacted well, took turns speaking and included more females than groups that did poorly. The study is in the journal Science. [Anita Woolley et al., citation to come.]

So if you’re looking for a recipe for group smart, don’t automatically reach for the biggest brains. Try adding some heart. And at least one person who knows what to do with a brick.

Thank you Frédéric Domo for sharing this via Linked In.

Online Communites are Changing my World

Should online communities have a better reputation?  Should you join and participate in one more online community?  Are online communities profoundly changing the world for the better?

Here are four examples of how online communities have changed my world:

  • I was organizing a conference in London UK for a client.  I researched the internet (blogs, discussion threads, social networks, etc.) and found 2 very interesting speakers to participate.  One was from Finland and one was from the USA.   The first time we met in person was at the conference.  We continue to network and collaborate to this day.  One of the speakers connected me to an incredible career opportunity.
  • I created a post on my blog and promoted it via Twitter and some of my Linked In groups.  I received an invitation on Linked In from someone who wanted to join my network.  I accepted the invitation after reviewing his profile, and confirming a mutual interest and benefit.  This contact invited me to help create a new social learning website for a professional community, introduced me to some other people who included me in a conference event, and provided a professional recommendation for me on my Linked In profile.  I recently arranged a 6 month contractor role in the home country of this contact and we are planning to meet in person for the first time.  He has a yacht and wants to take me sailing.
  • I targeted a few companies where I would like to work.  I used Linked In to identify people in leadership roles in these companies and introduced myself.  Two of the leaders willingly spoke with me to explore opportunities to work together.  I did not go through the traditional RFP process and spent very time and money on business development and marketing activities.  I am presently discussing a 6 to 12 month contractor role.
  • I participated heavily on the blog of a well known thought leaders in my field.  I contributed to discussion threads, commented and rated contributions made by others, and helped connect some of the other community members to each other and to “content.”  One of the leaders reached out to me.  This leader acted as a coach and mentor, and a reference.  Eventually this leader hired me for a contractor role.  The first time we met in person was just 30 minutes before meeting our client for the first time.  We are now talking about a longer term partnership.

How have online communities changed your world?

The authors of “the 2020 workplace” make the following predictions for online communities:

  • You will be hired and promoted based upon your reputational capital (for example – successfully turning professional communities into increased business value for the organization and creating a stronger personal brand).
  • Recruiting will start on social networking sites (at least 80 percent of recruiters will tap into online communities as the first stop to recruiting global talent).
  • Corporate social networks will flourish and grow inside companies (corporate participation in social networks may be as critical in the 2020 workplace as managing cash flow).

I was inspired to write this post after receiving a link from one of my network members (Kim Burt) to Richard Millington’s blog post where he shared examples of how online communities have changed his world.

Verifying Virtual Value

“Learning via social networks and other Web 2.0 tools is anything but formal. Yet, when it comes to measuring its value, a structured approach should still apply. How can learning leaders assess whether the benefits live up to the hype?” – CLO Magazine March 2010 Issue.

I co-wrote an article with Craig Mindrum about verifying the virtual value of networked learning.

The article begins with this introduction:

“Networked learning — namely, the use of social media in the workplace — has taken on a kind of religious fervor among learning practitioners during the past couple years. And not without good reason: It often creates more powerful and enduring learning experiences; it helps people establish and leverage social connections to accelerate the distribution and sharing of experiences, content and guidance; and it allows learners to be more productive, learn faster and work smarter.

At this time, however, the enthusiasm for networked learning isn’t necessarily shared by everyone. This creates a gap between believers and nonbelievers — or, perhaps more accurately, between believers and those who still need some convincing.

On one side of the fence are those who have witnessed the transformative power of networked learning — its ability to enable faster and better knowledge sharing and more effective decision making and problem solving, as well as a substantial reduction in error rates and learning costs. On the other side of the fence are those looking for a clear business case and return on investment (ROI) — some assurance that it definitively impacts the business.”

Here is a link to the article:  Verifying Virtual Value (article in CLO Magazine March 2010 Issue)

Please let me and my blog readers know if you have successfully measured the value of networked learning or whether you are planning to try and measure the value.  We would also appreciate knowing if there are other good articles, white papers, or presentations on the subject.

Finding In-House Experts Isn’t Easy

Why is it so difficult to quickly find someone in my organization to answer a pressing question, provide advice about a procedure, explain how to use some software, or tell me where to find an expert, course, or document?

I rely on my network to connect me to other people and information because I cannot know and will not try to know everything.  I use the internal “knowledge management” and “learning management” systems.  I am not completely helpless.  But sometimes I just don’t know what I don’t know and I need input from an expert.

I know there are in-house experts in my organization.  What can my organization do to help me connect to and leverage these experts more easily?  Experts with specialized knowledge and skills are an invaluable resource for me.

No t leveraging the in-house experts seems like such a waste.

How many problems go un-solved, how many new ideas never get imagined, how many experts feel underappreciated because people like me cannot easily tap into the in-house pool of experts?

My organization deployed a “expert locator” and “social networking” system in order to help employees quickly find and leverage in-house expertise but these systems provide a half baked solution.  I need to know more about the experts and not just their organizational affiliation, work experience, competencies, and certifications.  I also need to know some “softer” qualities such as their trustworthiness, communication style, personality traits, and willingness to help others in need.  I would also like to know how others feel about the experts when they tapped into them.

What do you look for in an expert and what “tools” are best suited for conveying the information you want to know about experts?

Dorit Nevo, Izak Benbasat and Yair Wand conducted a study to answer this question.

Dr. Nevo is a professor of management information­ systems at Schulich School of Business, York University, Toronto. Dr. Benbasat is a Canada research chair in information­ technology management at Sauder School of Business, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. Dr. Wand is a Canfor professor of management information­ systems at Sauder School of Business.

This following illustration (click on “key findings”) summarizes the key findings of the survey distributed to users of “expert locator” systems:

Key Findings

Some key conclusions from the research:

  • Activities and interactions that occur in blogs, wikis and social networks naturally provide the cues that are missing from current expert locator systems.
  • A search engine that mines internal blogs, for example, where workers post updates and field queries about their work, will help searchers judge for themselves who is an expert in a given field.
  • Wiki sites, because they involve collaborative work, will suggest not only how much each contributor knows, but also how eager they are to share that knowledge and how well they work with others.
  • Tags and keywords, which are posted by employees and serve as flags for search engines, can reveal qualities in an expert that are far from transparent in any database or directory.

I like this study because it demonstrates the hidden value of blogs and wikis.

This study also helps us further understand that the formal organizational chart and company designated experts are not necessarily the best “maps” for finding expertise or the most qualified experts in the company.

Social media such as blogs and wikis will help us to identify the established and emerging experts and to go beyond the “usual suspects.”

Here is a link to an online article with more details: Source for this post

Social Learning Primer

I created this 16 minute social learning primer (podcast) to address some of the frequently asked questions and concerns about social learning, and to share some of my insights and suggestions gained from my experience helping client organizations with their social learning agendas.

I hope you find this primer useful.  Please feel free to comment and provide feedback.

Click on image to see primer

Measuring Networked (or Social) Learning

Please see my article from the CLO magazine – Verifying Virtual Value.

Verifying Virtual Value (article in CLO Magazine March 2010 Issue)

———————————–

I am often asked by business leaders to describe what we intend to measure in order to understand, manage, and improve the networked (or social) learning eco-system.  There is interest in knowing how we will prove networked learning, turn potential chaos into something that is more certain and efficient, and to get some kind of “history” about the learning and development for individuals and organizations.

We do not want to take a traditional ‘Learning Management System” appraoch and treat networked learning as formal training.

Next is a list of the metric categories (and a few examples for each one) that I believe represent the minimum measurement requirements (not in any order of priority).

  • Networking patterns – the relationship between people and content categories, the network make up or profile (business unit, job, level, etc), key brokers and influencers by content category, and the degree of networking across silos.  Is information flowing efficiently and effectively?
  • Learning efficiency – time lag between posting content and when content is viewed,  amount of time spent producing content for others to view, amount of redundant or significantly overlapping content, the degree to which “informal” content is reused in “formal” content (and perhaps reducing formal content development costs and effort).  How much time are people spending looking for people and information?
  • Learning needs – differences between the learning needs or demand between “formal” and “social” learning (are some skills best learnt formally?), most popular learning needs by job, level, business unit, etc.  When is social learning creating and destroying value?
  • Contribution patterns – most active contributors and methods of contribution, busiest days and times for contributing, frequency and amount of contributions by job, level, business unit, etc.  Are the “right” people contributing at the expected levels, at the “right” times, and using the most appropriate methods?
  • Content usage patterns – preferred ways to consume various content topics, busiest days and times for viewing content,  amount of time spent viewing content and participating in discussion threads and blogs, and preferred way to “find” content.  Is the utilization of methods, media, subject areas at expected levels?
  • Content quality – ratings by content category, contributor, and medium, amount of “inappropriate” or “wrong” content reported by users, and the amount and type of content with very few or a lot of hits or views.  Is the “community” doing a good job of managing content quality, is there enough “good” content, are there too many unmet learning needs?
  • Return – increased productivity, improved customer service, compressed time to competence, higher reuse of shared information, improved employee engagement, and increased collaboration across silos.  Are the benefits of social learning at the expected levels?
  • Opportunity cost – cost avoidance, less travel expenses, less reliance on classrooms and trainers, fewer training development projects, and lower content maintenance cost.  Are we able to do more with less?  What costs would we pass up by using social learning instead of formal learning?

These are just some of my initial thoughts – a starter for 10 – and work in progress.  Please feel free to share your ideas and suggestions.

Social Networking Attracts and Retains Best (New) Talent

http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9595_22-272809.html

Why are CIO’s and IT Leaders warming up to the idea of social networking?  Partly because they think offering social networks to their employees will help with recruitment.  Millennials tend to choose their place of employment based on how accommodating companies are to their social networking preferences.  Another reason is out of concern for security.  Research suggests that Millennials will use “unauthorized” social networking tools if such tools are not provided by the IT department.  The CIO’s and IT Leaders are also realizing the business benefits from enabling their employees to use “Facebook” like tools in order to collaborate, network, and share “information.”  Are there risks?  Yes.  But social networking tools are here to stay and companies need to start using them, learning about them, and finding a way to use them without causing harm to the business.

I am truly excited about helping my clients adopt and use social media for collaboration, knowledge management and learning.  The potential for improving performance and driving business benefits is huge.  Traditional models and structures are quickly becoming irrelevant.  The power base is shifting from people with titles to people with good networks.  We are able to learn continuously and at accelerated rates (on our terms and based on our desires).  We are more willing to share with others and we are less interested in “protecting” our ideas.  We are innovating and spreading new ideas faster and more effectively.

I am out of breathe, struggling to keep up, overwhelmed by so much content, meeting a bunch of great people, and loving every minute of it.