Value: Work simple. Appreciation: Social Network and Social Media.

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Social network + Social media = Work Simple

What does this simple equation mean ?

An off-repeated question that we keep bumping into is that “How human beings together are able to accomplish everything at work when one person cannot do on his or her own”.  According to the WHO (World health organization), we spend one-third of our life at work.  We spend most of our adult life contributing to work, our families and to the economic development of the world. If social network can help us make this simple, it would be inadvertently a boon. The beauty is that, as complex as it is, we are all interconnected.

This inter-connectedness, interactions and ties among people forms a structure called the social network. Simply put, when we use a technology platform to embed and facilitate such interactions and to build the network, then what we have is a social media.

Both are continuously evolving and for them to thrive, grow and sustain we need two critical elements in good measure. One is the “plain goodness” among people and the other is being “altruistic”.

Useful note:  By being altruistic, we mean one is selfless and helps others succeed and thereby re-invents himself or herself, time and again.

Our work becomes simpler, when we realize that we human beings are a microcosm, living and thriving together.  We begin to see our shared actions, experiences in a new light. In effect, we shape our own social networks.  Just as in our brain, a single grey cell works in harmony and in tandem with billions of other cells, so is the case with the social network.

Useful note: In a 2012 article in Scientific American, Michael Harare from the University of Sydney, who works with the Complex systems group, School of  Engineering and IT has brilliantly said that  “Our human brain is not so large enough to provide us the raw computational power to think us out of a ‘sticky situation’. Instead our brain size allows us to manage a complex social network of relationships for us to rely on and thrive.

To elaborate a little, it is the ties that bind people and these ties move beyond geographical distances and socio-economic status to have social relationships and build a network.  From a work perspective, these ties, patterns and the contagion i.e. the information and knowledge that flows between them can fall under the following but not limited to:-

  1. Open collaboration to get work done.
  2. Facilitate: insight to innovation.
  3. Provide context.

We will examine one by one a bit. But, before that

If everything else is in the social network, then an obvious question – where is the individuality ? where is the analytical and logical thinking that led us to the advancements in  Science, Engineering and Technology ?

The answer is obvious, we all are unique, we are all gifted with specialist skills and talent and we  draw upon from the unique strengths of others to take mankind to the next level of evolution.


Work Simple: Open collaboration and the “Mass” factor

The very notion of collaboration rests on the essence of “Shared understandings” in all environments, whether business or personal. These “Shared understandings” are there in every aspect of our lives.

As employees, we understand our “boss” and collaborate with him or her and the team to get the work done. As parents, we collaborate with teachers at school and also at home, we collaborate with our spouses to run the household smoothly. Such collaborative spirit is deeply imbibed within us as responsible adults.

Open collaboration
A shared understanding

But then, the dynamics changes a lot when a large number of people are involved, who cooperate in an open fashion and work together to produce “Value”. This is where the buzz word “Mass collaboration” comes in. The Cambridge English dictionary defines “Mass” as “having an effect on or involving large number of people”. Whether or not “Shared understanding” is involved is debatable.

In Mass collaboration (at least so far), The work is shared or divided in such way that there may or may not be any “Shared understandings” between the individual value producers. Most of the work gets completed in an unseen and non-verbal manner.

Surfing Rapids and Collaborating
Surfing Rapids and Collaborating

The basic premise is that when the work is modular, it is easy to fit in the different pieces of work or modules together. The modules or solutions can be worked on in parallel and/or completed in different periods of time allowing for the best solution to emerge or innovation to gain  recognition.

Intrinsic value:

The intrinsic value from a cognitive and sociological perspective is that we human beings love to share and be social. We know very well that no one person will have all the right solutions for the problem. The adage “The sum of the parts is greater than the whole” works well in all scenarios. So when we join hands to pool our resources and grey cells, ideas build on one another and it results in a far more superior value than any one person doing it alone. Mass collaboration projects like the Linux, open source software, the development of Wikipedia, The Human Genome project are some fine examples. Read more on this subject from our blog. 1.Collaboration of ideas through knowledge brokering . 2.Learning from Inventors and Scientists on  Open Collaboration

Work Simple: Insight to Innovation

Moulding clay
Innovation is akin to moulding

Guided and improvised social network collaborations can work in the real world. They are improvised in such a way that they don’t kill the insights that comes out of it as a natural process.

The innovation process is accelerated by collaboration and these ideas and sparks happen in real time. When we give, a new insight happens. We are all intuitively drawn to giving. Though the technology has made it convenient to give, we need to understand that giving is timeless and still remains as one of our guiding principles of life.

We reflect our own past experiences with others ideas and hunches. Such interactions and continuous feedback shows us a way to understand “What we are doing and why we are doing it”. The social network makes this possible.
Our minds become innovative when we operate in an environment which is more innovative. Groups share because they have a common interest in progress and create a mutual dependency.

We prefer the safety and companionship of the groups. All great ideas start with a seed of an idea and multiplies thereafter. The skillful act is to move from a simple idea to something that is robust, exciting and powerful. As ideas multiply, it forms the base foundation for the many innovations in the products we take for granted.

In this context, the fewer and scarcer the resources of your company or organization become, the more we start digging deeper for innovations to happen in order to survive. Read more on this subject, from our blog: 1. All ideas are good. 2. Learning from scientists and inventors

Work Simple: With an “attitude” called Social media

The social network
The social network

Even as people work in an open co-operative fashion producing value and whether or not they use a social media platform, the idea of “shared understanding”, mutual trust, safety, motivation and other social norms are the key elements which can make a social network successful.

In this situation, social media has an advantage here. They provide the vital “human element” into the collaborative scenario. They provide the much needed ‘context’ to the information and the knowledge which needs to be shared or the problem that needs to be solved.

Having said this, we can define “Social media” as an attitude. An attitude, which evolves with time, takes its own path and is self-organizing with a context around it.

If you are trying to figure out how a social network works and what makes it successful, then perhaps a look at social capital and its influence will not go futile. An analysis of the social capital framework within a group set up  provides us answers to understand how ‘trust’ and ‘Community’ among other important elements influence the social network and the design of social media platforms. Read more from our blog.

  1. Designing Social media platforms.
  2.  Social media works- How following the crowd benefits us
  3.  Benefits of social media networks