An extended family is a community. What did we see as major changes in families within the last 10 years thanks to social networks and new technologies? What does it mean for corporations?
What we saw is simple, from a family life that was punctuated by major physical events like a wedding, a funeral, etc. and nearly nothing in between for those who live apart, the family life has switched to a vibrant buzz in between the events where grand mothers, cousins, sisters, and the friends of all those do chat, send each other SMSs, exchange photos, organize small meetings, help each other for schoolwork , etc. In other words the family buzz has been invented.
The illustration attached shows that the community intensity has actually drastically increased thanks to new technologies.
More than that, actually. The value of the physical events has changed. From the symbolic manifestation of a community (”the family is together”) the physical gathering has become a (mere) place to reinforce the links and to have fun. The symbolic manifestation of the community is now on the individual’s walls and in the photo albums of Facebook, Picasa and other social networks. The buzz IS the community.
The same applies to corporate communities. The yearly big convention or big functional meeting can be completed with good internal social networks and community lives. The life and the symbol of the community will less and less be the physical meeting but rather the virtual life. Our consulting practice has largely demonstrated that the analogy with the family holds and here are some of our conclusions on implications for management:
- Don’t treat buzz as noise, it is life
- Revisit the frequency of physical events, decreasing their frequency and costs is perfectly acceptable if they are relayed by real constructive buzz, virtual events and small events
- Reinvent the nature of physical events in order to extract the maximum value out of them i.e. prepare them with online activities, focus them on networking and links building or knowledge building rather than on presentations (that could have been given virtually or even in asynchronous ways)
- Monitor and organize virtual events in creative ways so that they represent important moments
- Encourage one to one relations and small group to small groups activities