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Social Capital

It's not what you know it's whom you know.....

In January the Entovation newsletter promoted the WEF's "Year of Trust". I also received the following three quotes recently. I'm reposting them. Their timing perhaps even more appropriate.

“The new currency won’t be intellectual capital. It will be social capital–the collective value of whom we know and what we’ll do for each other. When social connections are strong and numerous, there is more trust, reciprocity, information flow, collective action, happiness, and, by the way, greater wealth. “
James Kouzes, Chairman Emeritus of Tom Peters Company, Business 2.0 September 2000

There is also a business case for social capital – hard evidence that social capital boosts business performance. Individuals who build and use social capital get better jobs, better pay, faster promotions, and are more influential and effective, compared with peers who are unable or unwilling to tap the power of social capital. Organizations with rich social capital enjoy access to venture capital and financing, improved organizational learning, the power of word-of-mouth marketing, the ability to create strategic alliances, and the resources to defend against hostile takeovers. And social capital is a bulwark of democracy.”
Wayne Baker, Achieving Success Through Social Capital, 2000

We all face some common frustrations in this Information Age. If you wanted to know if anyone at your company had personal contacts at a new partnering prospect, what would you do? Send an email to all employees? Make a random guess, and send an email to a few people who might not be too bothered by the request? Most people communicate with a close insular group of coworkers and rarely tap into the gold mine of information and connections that is distributed throughout their company. Broadcasting requests creates more email smog and collectively wastes more time than it saves.”
Steve Jurvetson, “The Expertise Economy” – BusinessModelX.com May 9, 2001

This is one of the great opportunities. To introduce the methodologies that build on our Social Capital “who we know, and what we’ll do to help each other.

Only a fraction of an organizations Social Capital is currently accessible. The connections are mostly hidden from view. At Entovation.net I’ve been amazed and encouraged by the connections I’ve found and the new friends I’ve discovered just by participating in the E-100 intranet. However, the discovery process is still time-consuming and sometimes painful.

Let's look to explore and adopt technology that enables us to demonstrate new methods for creating “circles of trust” in an accelerated and self-organizing fashion. It’s the connections we don’t know we have that can really help us. Our challenge is thus to demonstrate methods that can amplify and accelerate social capital building.

Many tools are available now that can be assembled to provide this functionality. We are on the cusp of seeing massive knowledge innovation around PIM’s personal information mangers (e.g. Outlook, Chandler, Spaces etc. perhaps even Metalayer) there are many emerging social/business networking sites (out of dating…. RYZE, Ecademy etc.) and the blogging community has an enormous potential only now emerging in FOAF friend of a friend, blogrolls, and other linking technologies. Similarly there will be an explosion of photo exchanges, Instant Messaging etc.

By taking an approach that is both individual and community centric we can extend our range of connectivity and influence well beyond the small circles we currently inhabit.

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