Engaging the nonsocial in your organization
Colleen Burns 120000C4RP firstname.lastname@example.org | | Tags:  dunbar_number wannes_rams social engagement
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Some people are simply good at social, while others are not. There are several reasons for this—among them age, culture, habits and influencers. One factor that is rarely spoken about is the capacity of the brain.
You might be familiar with the Dunbar number. This number is based on a study by Robin Dunbar, who says there is a limit to how many stable social relationships an individual can have. The number lies between 100 and 230 but will commonly hover around 150.
Two other studies look at how certain parts of the brain influence social media success. The Twitter spot in your brain is responsible for the capability of having more friends and more complex social networks. And a larger orbital prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain associated with decision making, correlates with greater social skills. With this kind of information, perhaps employers might start scanning your brains in the future. Who knows - it could even be an add-on for the Kenexa suite! (Kenexa is a leading provider of recruiting and talent management solutions recently acquired by IBM.)
Joking aside, there really could be some interesting take aways for hiring managers. It seems obvious that the better developed these areas of the brain are, the better you will be at social. And therefore the better you might be at quickly adopting and using new enterprise social tools like IBM Connections. This will make you a bigger asset for the company and will increase your opportunities to grow within a social company.
The downside of these studies is the reality that this means some people are just not as good at social and may never become good at social, no matter how well you train them. If your company is using social software they will very likely not participate much or at all, because they don’t see the benefit. For you as a company this is bad news because these employees probably have important information to share that can make your company more competitive.
Since I read these articles in August of last year I have been thinking about ways to have those who aren’t as inclined toward social media take part in the social engagement of your company. I didn’t write this post then because I had no clue about how to get them engaged, but having recently come back from IBM Connect 2013 I think I might have found a possibility. I’m not sure if this is the full solution—probably not—but feel free to share your ideas.
When I saw the sessions on IBM Docs and IBM Connections Content Edition I realized that those people who aren’t as social media savvy also have documents they need to share and work on. IBM is working on making these so intuitive that it will never occur to them that they are being social. In a sense, they are not truly demonstrating social behavior; the system is being social for them. This could be the first step to getting the nonsocial workforce into the social suite. And I think as more day-to-day tools are incorporated in the social suite, there is hope for transforming the nonsocial employees in your organization.
Wannes Rams is a senior consultant for GFI Benelux, an IBM Premier Business Partner from Belgium. He specializes in IBM Connections, Lotus Quickr, IBM Sametime and Social Business. He was also a speaker @ BLUG. You can follow him on @wannesrams or wannesrams.blog.com
Wannes is an IBM Redbooks thought leader