• All Posts
  • Application Development
  • Customer Success
  • Enterprise 2.0
  • News & Events
  • Product Updates
  • Tips & Tricks
  • Enterprise Social Software Blog

    A different kind of social capital at work – Attention

    I love Geek and Poke and saw this recently: Geek and Poke - How to make money on Web 2.0 - Attention.jpgGeek and Poke

    I think the concept of attention is a key way to think differently about social networking inside the enterprise. As I already talked about in a previous blog post Will you be my friend yes or no? the explicit network ties between people who work for the same organization is nowhere near as useful or valuable as the implicit ones – it’s not “who knows whom” (and the vanity rolodexes that people put together) but rather “who knows what” and “who knows who knows what” that helps people leverage the company’s social network to personal and group productivity. This implict network is primarily based on who works with whom – independent (but not exclusive) of official org charts.

    In addition to “who works with whom”, we’re enabling a different type of social capital and connections to emerge – “who pays attention to whom”. Given that the most precious asset that we all have is time, work effectiveness is often a result of how well can can find the most efficient paths to information, knowledge, assistance, experience, and context. Socialtext People and Dashboard allow you to “follow” a colleague – which includes their work activity updates (not just status “tweets” but actual work – blog posts, wiki entries, people tagging, group/workspace membership changes, etc.). This is subtly but powerfully different from how patterns emerge in Twitter. People follow Twitterers because they find what they “tweet” about interesting or fun; Socialtext users follow colleagues because they find what they are working on useful, informative, and relevant.

    Back when I was hired into Cisco Systems (September 1997) I remember being overwhelmed by its size, scale, complexity, and pace. My wonderful boss (Howard Charney – one of the best executives I’ve ever had the privilege of working with) gave me some great onboarding assistance and told me that the best way to learn the business and the company and how to get things done was to first meet the right people. He set me up with about 5 different peer VP mentors from different parts of the company. I’ll never forget the advice I got from one of them about the huge amount of information and trying to figure out what’s relevant. He told me to just subscribe to all the same email lists he did, and then unsubscribe from the ones that weren’t useful or relevant to my part of the business. I did that – which was enormously helpful – but I also did the same with 2 of the key direct reports I was now managing who were obviously savvy and effective. This probably improved my onboarding by over 100% as “breathing their information smog” was a really focused way of figuring out which information firehose to drink from. I’ve used that technique at almost every new job since then (although with more modern tools; Ross Mayfield happily donated his ginormous RSS OPML file to me, for example). We think that “following” in Socialtext People will be even more useful, since you’ll get alert feeds based on “in the flow work” from your social network.

    So while the Geek and Poke carton is funny, I think the concept is sort of spot on if applied to the enterprise – following and paying attention to the right people can really make you more effective.

      3 Replies to “A different kind of social capital at work – Attention”

    Nice post Eugene. In particular I like the conclusion you’ve arrived at: following and paying attention to the right people can really make you more effective.

    This says it all – knowing what the right people know is a commodity – it has always been the case but social networking now brings this concept into 3D.

    Allow me to respectfully disagree with perhaps your key assertion, that “work effectiveness is often a result of how well can can find the most efficient paths to information…” Well, if not disagree, at least point out that in all the focus on Twitter and microblogging and following is causing many people to ignore critical elements of balance. I would instead say that “work effectiveness is always a result of how well we balance input, process and output.” In this instant gratification, always on, Google-driven world, it is easy for us to consume more and more information in the name of truth, wisdom and insight. Then, faced with the last-minute realization that we’re at deadline, we turn around and “retweet” the salient inputs, having applied precious little thought or insight to the inputs other than to cull them.

    The really successful person makes sure they have the relevant inputs (select who you follow carefully), then applies thought and judgment to those inputs to find the patterns and non-intuitive conclusions, and then distributes those in compelling fashion to the relevant audience (make sure you’re being followed as assiduously as you find out who to follow).

    There are redirectors in the world (e.g., Scoble, Kawasaki). They serve a purpose. But I think in general we value those who are adept at balancing input, process and output. Those are the true business superstars.

    In particular I like the conclusion you’ve arrived at: following and paying attention to the right people can really make you more effective.

    This says it all – knowing what the right people know is a commodity – it has always been the case but social networking now brings this concept into 3D.

    http://partybizz.com

      Leave a Reply

    About This Blog

    Weblog on gaining business results from social software.

    On this blog, Socialtext staffers and customers explore how companies can gain the most business value from their use of enterprise social software, including microblogging, social networking, filtered activity streams, widget-based dashboards, blogs and wikis.

    Search

    Find us on Facebook

    Archives

    Recent Posts

    Recent Tweets


    Protect Your Company from the Risks of Social Media

    Free White Paper

    This free white paper also includes the 5 most important issues for managing social media and recommendations for protecting your company from the risks. Download now and learn how to leverage the right tools and policies for your business.