I was thinking about Andrew MacAfee’s “Ties” Model for Enterprise 2.0 over the holidays – and talking with one of my Gartner peers about it. Beyond reading what Andrew had to say, I heard him present this model in September 08 at the Talk the Future conference in Austria. It’s a seductive look at the strength of relationships between people (strong ties, weak ties, potential ties and ‘no ties’) and the business benefits that accrue from focusing on that class of relationship and applying technology to amplify the benefits of those types of ties.
Another way to think about Andrew’s model is to recognize that various attributes emerge as higher order effects from one simple event: two people interacting with each other. Here are a few higher order abstractions:
- Relationship: Collect interactions over time – and a relationship (of some kind) emerges.
- Relative relationship: Compare collections of interactions – and the relative attributes of relationships emerge.
- Distance: Diagram the relationships in a network diagram and, based on distance between nodes, a potential relationship map emerges
Interactions between two people are one basis for building a hierarchy here. There are other “interactions” between people that are anonymous or mediated through other means. As in tagging and sharing a bookmark in del.icio.us. Or multiple parties participating in a predictive market. In either case, people are related not by interpersonal interactions but interactions between an individual and content (or higher order abstractions on that dimension) or by common interests (shared by parties who don’t know each other but, for example, apply the same tag in a bookmark sharing tool).
And all of this seems to be bound by the laws that govern emergence, e.g., number of people involved, activity level, visibility (help people see what others are doing), persistence (allow people to see what others have done) and density (how close people are to one another). (See “Exploit Self-Organizing Systems and Emergence to Take Advantage of Turbulence”)
So one action to consider, as you read through Andrew’s work, is where and when do the laws of emergence apply and what might they mean, if, for example, you want to create more disruptive business innovation.
Happy New Year!
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