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October 09, 2017

Social collaboration best practices in workplaces – Part 1

It has always been an established fact that companies have depended on the merits of employee social collaboration for the generation of new ideas and for innovation. Management needs to accept the chaos during the initial stages before they venture out to making detail product development plans. We can learn a lot from other companies on ‘how to foster social collaboration’ who have been trailblazers in this field.

Please find below some of the best practices, which we can adopt to make social collaboration successful in organizations.

Having a curated and facilitated collaborative environment

Often a regular feedback is that employees get overwhelmed and often get distracted with collaboration overload. Ton Davenport, the distinguished professor in Information technology, analytics, and knowledge management at Babson College in his interview for MIT Technology Review says that for collaboration to succeed, organizations need to have a limited use of it. This means, employees need to collaborate for a limited period to avoid getting overwhelmed. Social collaboration at work does not mean that everybody in the organization needs to collaborate. Sometimes, it would do more good if we limit it to people who are naturally keen and have intrinsic ability to collaborate.

We would see more and more organizations favoring curated and facilitated collaborative environments. In a recent research study, conducted at IBM, they found that the employees source of inspirational ideas were within the organization rather than outside. Employers insist that managers and their direct reports spend enough time to scan their own business function to assess and identify the business needs and gaps for collaboration before they venture out with their colleagues from other business units.

Organizations are keen on responsible action from their employees on collaboration activity. With a return to curated and facilitated collaborative environment, organizations can ensure that their senior employee’s time is prioritized and they can spend time on sharing their inputs and expertise in internal meetings rather than spending much of their time on external social networking.

This article piece first appeared in SAP by the same author.


March 29, 2017

How viral information flows in a Corporate social network–insights from Gallup Business Journal

Writing about web page

I just happened to search the internet on the influence of social networks and social media at workplaces. And I bumped into this article from Gallup business journal, which happens to be a gem not just from the insights that we can gain, but there is much to learn from social network experts like Dr. Jon Kleinberg.

The article that I am talking about is "The power of social networks" from Gallup business journal. You can find the link above.
The article interviews Dr. Jon Kleinberg of Cornell University. Dr. Jon is a professor of Mathematics at Cornell University and a recipient of many awards including the Rolf Nevanlinna prize.

The Rolf Nevanlinna prize (May sound new to many) is awarded every four years by the International congress of mathematicians for outstanding contributions in the field of Mathematics aspects of computational and information science.

Now, what interested me in this article, was Dr. Jon's expert views on information cascades and the contagion theory in the social network, that exists in the offices. Why certain messages go viral and how information flows and thrives in the social network.

I have mentioned about the fine synergistic relationship between Social media and Social network, in my earlier posts. Both exist to complement each other. The underlying structure of the social network, embedded inside the social media, makes it (Social media) more acceptable among the masses.

Social media is an 'attitude', it is the medium through which people interact and share information with others.

By sharing and by interacting with others, a social network is formed. We need a medium, a tool, in the form of a social media to control and better able to structure the network and fine tune it. We then leave it to be self -organizing.

We cannot enforce any strict rules on a social network. People's behavior, ties, and connections within the network is self-regulating and self-organizing. It is like an organism which evolves continuously.
Now having said that, it needs some incentive structures to be built inside it. We need to motivate the masses.
Incentive structures and benefits should be structured in such a way, that it mobilizes people for a long-term sustainable change.

That's exactly where Dr. Jon helps us understand, how information, ideas, and virtual communities spread and thrive in an information economy.
In his talks, Dr. Jon points us to the core, the underlying software algorithms, and the structure of the social and information network. A sort of background for us to make sense of the networked world and the world wide web.

These underlying social network structures give us a map to figure out the extent and density of the network when the information goes viral.

Dr. Jon, through his research on the information networks as well as social networks, provides value to the corporate world. It is on how to make use of their internal corporate social network.
In today's information economy, there is much to be reaped from the benefits of using social media as a corporate social network. We have been reading reports and articles that "all is not well" in how corporate social networks can be put to good use. There is enough social listening and monitoring by external companies who provide well researched information on this.

There are newer buzz words like 'enterprise social networking' and 'social collaboration' used in conjunction with a corporate social network. An article from Work Monkey labs on the subject throws a good light on making it(Corporate social network) successful. You can find the article here.

The current article from Gallup discusses much less talked about areas like, how to manage and contain information flow in an office gossip network and also managing the spread of key information during succession planning.

For now, I will cover the areas of viral information flow and information cascades within a corporate social network. Probably, I will have to do a part 2 of this post.

When people see something new and if that "new" has some good features, then they are bound to spread it within their friends. The friends, in turn, spread it to their friends and them, in turn, spread it to their friends. In this way, the spread of information flow goes up to three levels deep for critical mass to take effect.

Once people see their friends (who are three levels deep) already in a virtual community, they would be compelled to join it. Added to this, Dr. Jon says that there should be enough satisfying incentive benefits attached to the social network for people to get motivated.

When people follow the crowds or their friends without rationale or limited rationale then there is every chance, that an information cascade happens. Information cascades are the starting point for the information to go viral in a social network.

Viral information flow cannot be studied in its entirety, says Dr. Jon as it is complex and there are many independent sources involved. The best bet would be to spread in a group of well-connected people. These well-connected people would, in turn, spread it to their friends and so on. My understanding is that We need to release the information for spreading across many well-connected groups who are independent of geographical locations.

Hope the article was interesting. Please let me know your suggestion and comments.

Ramkumar Yaragarla

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Welcome ! about the blog

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Coffee mug conversations and listening – about social media, networks, collaboration and crowds.

Human beings are social animals. We have evolved to this date and time, because of our social nature. We love groups and we love to share.

I write about re-inventing ourselves and our work through Social media, Social networks, Work Collaboration, Innovation and lastly Work life balance.

I completed my Masters in IT for manufacture, WMG, University of Warwick. I graduated in the year 2004.

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