!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> Streamline Training & Documentation: Social Networks that Produce Value

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Social Networks that Produce Value

My personal favorite among the twenty Breakthrough Ideas for 2007 touted in the February issue of the Harvard Business Review is Christopher Meyer's take on how best to develop business-based social networks.

Meyer, chief executive of Monitor Networks, lays out a five-step process for building a network that creates sustained value:
  1. Define the purpose — Meyer cites five basic tasks that a network can support: solving problems, innovating, exerting influence, allocating resources, and scanning the big wide world for information useful for strategizing.

  2. Identify the participants — Pull together a group that collectively encompasses the mix of knowledge, skills, ages, and working styles needed to realize the network's purpose.

  3. Engineer the exchanges — Balance the economic, informational, and emotional rewards for all participants so that everyone has a continuing incentive to contribute.

  4. Design an appealing experience — Create an environment — physical and virtual — that supports the exchanges among participants.

  5. Choose the tools for participant interaction — It's likely that high-tech tools, such as wikis, live chat, and teleconferencing, will be useful, but it could also turn out that low-tech tools, such as getting everybody together in the same room, are powerful ways of maintaining the network's vitality.
As with any human enterprise, the odds of success from building a social network are much improved by basing details of the design on input from prospective participants. You should also plan to make adjustments over time in light of feedback from participants.


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