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Leveraging visualization

Stowe Boyd and I had an email conversation a few weeks ago, which is now posted on his Socialogy site:

[Stowe] The thesis of Socialogy is that scientific findings about sociality, social networks, and human cognition are only slowly becoming part of management thinking, and as a result, much of what goes on as established practice in business is actually folklore dressed up as policy. Where do you see the greatest point of leverage in the application of scientific understanding of social connection in business?

[Harold] Cognitive science, anthropology, bioeconomics and other sciences may be the long lever, but visualization [with tools like social network analysis] is the fulcrum to widespread understanding of social connection in business.

As any marketing professional knows, ideas don’t spread themselves, they need to be in a form that first gets the recipient’s attention. Dan Pink talks about this with his six  types of sales pitches, giving the same message in different ways. I have found that the visualization that social network analysis provides can be very powerful, and network thinking can fundamentally change our view of social connection in business. Seeing is believing. Visualizing network relationships can provide the initial leverage of getting complex new ideas accepted into general management thinking.

leverageFor example, I once used value network analysis to help a steering group see their internal community of practice in a new light. For the first time, they saw it mapped as a value network, not a hierarchy. They immediately realized that they were pushing solutions instead of listening to their community. This was obvious when all arrows pointed toward the user community, but no tangible or intangible value arrows pointed out. As a result, they decided to change their Charter and develop more network-centric practices. Thinking in terms of networks enabled them to see with new eyes.

HJ network mapMap of my LinkedIn connections, by LinkedIn Labs

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