Tuesday, July 22, 2008

tighten your real-world networks

Does everyone in your office know each other? Maybe they should. In the current issue of Wired, Clive Thompson writes about a fellow named Benjamin Waber, who has been studying real-life social networks. Through "reality mining," Waber has found that the more people in an office who know each other, the better an office functions.
On the Web, the best way to solve a problem is to engage an extensive network; the person who provides information, advice, or answers is often someone you know only vaguely — a weak link. In the face-to-face world, though, Waber says, groups are more productive when the team members know each other well, sharing extremely strong links. That's because face-to-face teamwork requires intimacy, he says, and "when you're among friends you can really capitalize on preexisting protocols" — nods, grunts, in-jokes — for talking and listening. ... When Waber examines company-wide communications, he can spot inefficiencies — two employees who don't know each other. Introduce them over coffee and — presto! — the office metabolism accelerates.

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