Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The value of a 'Like'

The apple tree outside my office
in full bloom and depending on
collaboration to prosper
In setting out the PR strategy for an organisation, the practitioner will want to be sure that the dominant coalition is fully cognisant of the commercial value of community and internal as well as external interactivity. Internal and external social networks make money and make organisations more efficient.

Recent research by McKinsey showed that levels of collaboration predict commercial success and outcomes.

The evidence came, not from business, but the US intelligence services.

The research team, led by Richard Hackman, wanted to determine what makes intelligence units effective. By surveying, interviewing, and observing hundreds of analysts across 64 different intelligence groups, the researchers ranked those units from best to worst.

Then they identified what they thought was a comprehensive list of factors that drive a unit’s effectiveness—only to discover, that the most important factor wasn’t on their list.

The critical factor wasn’t having stable team membership and the right number of people. It wasn’t having a vision that is clear, challenging, and meaningful. Nor was it well-defined roles and responsibilities; appropriate rewards, recognition, and resources; or strong leadership.

Rather, the single strongest predictor of group effectiveness was the amount of help that analysts gave to each other. In the highest-performing teams, analysts invested extensive time and energy in coaching, teaching, and consulting with their colleagues. These contributions helped analysts question their own assumptions, fill gaps in their knowledge, gain access to novel perspectives, and recognize patterns in seemingly disconnected threads of information. The converse was true. Low interaction gave low yields.  Just knowing the amount of help-giving that occurred allowed the Harvard researchers to predict the effectiveness rank of nearly every unit accurately.

Evidence from studies led by Indiana University’s Philip Podsakoff demonstrates that the frequency with which employees help one another predicts sales revenues in pharmaceutical units and retail stores; profits, costs, and customer service in banks; creativity in consulting and engineering firms; productivity in paper mills; and revenues, operating efficiency, customer satisfaction, and performance quality in restaurants.
Across these diverse contexts, organizations benefit when employees freely contribute their knowledge and skills to others[i].

In attempting to find what was so efficacious in social media, a huge number of people have analysed massive amounts of data to discover what the value of a Facebook Like, a re-Tweet  or re pinned Pinterest photo was worth. What is staring us in the face is that it is the interaction that is the value not the action.
When people invest extensive time and energy in coaching, teaching, and consulting with their online community, they presage a higher value constellation than communities that are shy and retiring. It would seem that in such active communities that there is a greater propensity to be part of the winning social group.

One of the greatest wealth creators through history is the internet. It was, and is, hugely collaborative.
In his book The future of Internet Jonathan Zittrain  makes these points:

“The design of the Internet reflected not only the financial constraints of its creators, but also their motives. They had little concern for controlling the network or its users’ behaviour(page 33)
“The network’s design was publicly available and freely shared from the earliest moments of its development.” (page. 28)[ii]

Being social and sharing, seems to be a great way to stimulate wealth creation and by taking such ideas to the dominant coalition, the practitioner underpins proposals that include the use of organisational collaboration across constituencies (internal and external), embracing Big Data and the Internet of Things (which spook most managers), adoption of social media and dynamic communication in the big bag of PR tactics that will be used from time to time.

Taking the organisation along such a path offers greater long term rewards for all.

[i] Givers take all: The hidden dimension of corporate culture. McKinsey Quarterly April 2013 May 2013
[ii] Johnathan L. Zittrain 2008 The Future of Internet USA: Caravan Books, 2008 (e-book downloadable from

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