A few weeks ago, I had a friend visit my office. As we were walking the halls of the building and passing the various business areas, I waved and said “hello” to the people I know. My friend said “oh, you must be the Mayor.” If anyone were truly the Mayor it would most likely be my Architect.
I wonder if it is still true in most organizations today that we can identify those people that we call “Mayor” or if this is something that is changing dramatically due to the global workforce or virtual teams.
For today, at least where I work, it is like a small town with the various town folk representing their areas of business. I think of this as work-town.
The Boundary People
Today, I considered looking at my network in the context of multiple towns. I considered all those folks that I know about but generally don’t interact with and the opportunities that they represent.
I used the Socilab LinkedIn network analysis tool located here
Here is another view ..
It looks like I may have to get out more..
The tool only allows for 500 people, so this is a sample size but I think it is a good representation of my connections.
It would be interesting to have this in the office for all of our folks to see individually. I am well aware that tools exist for this but we would have to consider the practical implications for people. http://www.kstoolkit.org/Social+Network+Analysis
Basically, I have my work-town relationships, my hometown relationships, my current town relationships and some that live between the hometown and the work-town.
Looking at the “social network” as informed by a technical system would not be enough to apply the personal context of what the relationships mean to me in context. This aside, there is an opportunity to measure operational effectiveness or “connectedness” in some context through looking at the boundaries.
Why do they (boundary people) exist at the edge of my network?
What town are they in?
Where are they relative to me and in what context do we have a relationship?
Relationships are “for purpose” and often times, this is represented as a negative but I see it as a positive. For example, I enjoy getting a cup of coffee in the cafeteria in the morning. I see Toni every morning and share a brief exchange with her. I enjoy that relationship and the coffee. If the coffee were not there, I honestly don’t know how often I would simply find myself wandering down there. That being said, I often walk away from the cafeteria with a lot more than just coffee.
Mindful Boundary Person Engagement
In life you’ll realize there is a purpose for everyone you meet. Some will test you, some will use you, and some will teach you. But most importantly, some will bring out the best in you. – unknown
Social tools seek to introduce technical capabilities to address these boundaries. LinkedIn now shows you that someone is having a birthday or an event change that you can see. This presents the opportunity to reach out to that person living at the edge of the network or town. This kind of capability generally doesn’t exist in the workplace and even if tools like Jive are in place for this kind of notification, work-town engagement is much different and results would be heavily impacted by work-town culture.
The intent here is to work on our level of awareness without the benefit of these social tools in our network.
I must admit that I do use tools though.. I use “The Brain”
The process I use .. is
Person –> Context—>Date—> Organization—>Group—>Applications—>Events
It isn’t a perfect system but it allows me to determine who I know and in what context I know them beyond a relationship in a CRM tool. I can see many to many relationships.. but I digress.
The point is to understand the boundaries and find ways to turn them into a relationship of deeper meaning or better context. The benefits are consistent with good community management. In my case, it is data about a person converting to dialogue with a person.. and gaining the opportunities to share and grow with new relationships.
Who lives in your town?
Maybe you could get out and meet up with some of your boundary people?
More information on networks and connectedness can be found here https://netmap.wordpress.com/2016/01/07/how-to-get-strategic-insights-from-net-map/