Last night we had a conversation with Juliette Powell in Sydney. A small group of local digerati gathered for an informal conversation on social networks, taking advantage of Juliette being in Australia for the first time as she tours the world promoting her new book 33 Million People in the Room.
Below are the unedited notes I took during the conversation, reflecting what was said by the participants. It was a fascinating discussion, with just a few fragments captured here.
Notes from Conversation with Juliette Powell
After her book came out Juliette got invitations from around the world, including from X Media Lab for a keynote and mentorship program in New Zealand. There were limited opportunities to connect with her peer mentors in the busy schedule, so the only way to connect was online – the brief initial contact will be followed up on social networks.
How are social networks being used in Australian schools? At the moment Facebook and other tools are blocked in schools. However others are recognizing the educational and social value of connecting people. The role of radio-based remote education in Australia’s history should in fact support use of connectivity in education.
A key question is the difference between countries in their affinity with technology. In the US that affinity will go up exponentially through the impact of Obama’s road to success.
What happens when the creative class and entrepreneurial class become the same?
Juliette’s book was originally supposed to be about Napier Collyns, who introduced Juliette and I. Napier is one of the most connected people on the planet, still travelling at an immense pace around the world bringing ideas and people together. However not everyone can travel and physically meet all of these extraordinary people. Yet with the rise of social networks, we can all connect with people around the world, wherever we are, whatever our resources.
There is today far more potential for cross-disciplinary work. However in fact social network analyses have shown that the strongest binding theme between people in and beyond organizations is their discipline and expertise.
Unambiguously, more diverse networks bring great value. An important question is whether greater connectivity is leading to more diverse networks.
Presence – focusing on the energy of one person and connecting with them personally – creates a special bond. An authentic connection will lead you to say things you wouldn’t say to most other people. To what degree do social networks enable that kind of presence? Or, if we meet people with that presence, what is the impact of them being extended and deepened by subsequent connection over social networks? However the topology of these networks may not change. There will not necessarily be more hubs as a result of more connectivity.
What is the relationship between the depth and breadth of our personal relationships? To answer that we need tot redefine what we mean by ‘knowing’ someone. The question is which are the relationships you’re going to invest in. If your motivation is personal and emotional, you may connect to fewer people. If you want to build a global business, you may connect to more people, ,and focus on the hubs. There can be a lot of sharing and value creation even with weak ties.
In shops, brands are a shortcut to make choices. That can be the same in social networks.
Ron Burt’s research showed that being more networked leads to higher performance. You need inward links – people going to you – rather than always reaching out. The leaders of organizations know that their companies function on networks, they just don’t know quite what those networks are.
In the broadcasting industry, the make-up room is the primary hub of information flows. This approach of finding and tapping the network hubs can be applied to industries as well as organizations.
So if the outcomes are so clear, why are organizations so reluctant to enable social networks and connection? Control!! However it’s also that the default position in most organizations is to say no to the new.
In organizations it makes an immense difference whether people are authentic. That is a journey – there is far more authenticity inside organizations than there was not so long ago, but there is a long way to go.
However being authentic is challenging in an open world. We are used to living compartmentalized lives – family, friends, work, hobbies, beyond. Now, whatever we reveal is visible to all. So we are exploring what we share, and indeed discover far better who we are. So what do we share and not share? How whole are we in our online (and offline) presence?