We often wonder about how to argue for deploying Enterprise 2.0 software. How can we prove to the bean counters that this stuff really helps facilitate better connections between employees, which in turn leads to greater productvity. Here's something to nibble on.
In a column written for CNET, Ben Golub, Plaxo's president and CEO, referenced sociologist Mark Granovetter's work debunking the conventional assumption that the most useful connections are those found through strong personal ties to friends, relatives and longtime colleagues.
In "The Strength of Weak Ties" Granovetter pointed out that its precisely the weak ties between individuals that lead to "bridges" between social networks. Strong ties, that is more frequent and more emotionally-open relationship, between individuals tend to create overlapping friendship circles. With weak ties, however, that's not the case, and as such it's these relationships that can lead people to becoming the bridges that connect between dissimalar groups.Additional research has born out this hypothesis with researchers finding that weak ties helped product teams finish projects faster and reduce information search costs, notes Andrew McAfee in a post "The Ties that Find". Enterprises looking at fostering a more creative, more collaborative environment should consider the extent to which these weak ties exist within the company and outside. Tools, such as Facebook and blogging platforms, particularly those integrated with social networks, can help foster the climate for those sorts of ties to be created. However, that will only happen if companies put into the place the right corporate culture for supporting such an environment.