From Connecting Dots to Connecting People and Back Again
To an economist, it might be about weather patterns. Weather is super complex with a mind numbing number of variables. Regional fluctuations in rainfall or temperature can cause a dramatic shift in supply or availability of a commodity good. This availability might lead to a change in the price of that good, then of course housing prices will change (now there is a leap, but hold the thought). I am sure there are many ‘dots’ I missed.
To an organization, it is about projects and investment decisions. To receive budget or get the go-ahead a projects need to be connected to stakeholder value (some even call it ROI). It could be to a business stakeholder or for customer value, ideally the two are related, but it is rarely a straight line. The idea is to align projects to the strategy, which should then align to goals and objectives. The final connection, of course aligns perfectly to the customer job to be done – right. Connecting the dots for the CEO and the CFO is required (I am not saying prove ROI – feel free to debate that one yourselves).
To a visionary or critical thinker, it is about the dots that are hard to see. In the economic example above the visionary can build a model to draw the line from the commodity good price change to the change in housing prices. In the organization, the visionary not only connects dots, they are also wonderfully capable of identifying a roadblock real or psychological, and removing it. This persona type is a bit different from a leader, which brings us to the next topic.
The People Part
By way of circular reference, I found a post by friend Wim Rampen, who in turn pointed readers back to something I had said. (I had forgotten about this post; no comment). Wim speaks more to the connecting of people and the network or influencer effect. This is all the rage now (Wim wrote this a couple years ago), as we all try to figure out how to influence or be influenced. Wim asked a critical question, ‘Which is more important, the Connector or the influencer?’ a question that is yet to be answered.
Moving beyond the network effect, to simply the identification of the right person, given a situation for a specific need. Whether it is a product expert, a domain expert, a facilitator or anyone else for that matter, the identification of the right person at the right time is an important part of the connecting process. So, to Wim’s question, I will take the connector please (though they might be the same).
To the organization, it is about connecting to the right person, who can connect the dots, which might be about finding additional people, and so on…
In this short journey, we moved from ‘Dots’ to people. One could argue that they are really one and the same. But, the problem space is too big if they are the same thing, they now need to be separate. The network effect has become a massive, well studied, beast. Opinions are in no short supply. From Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook to Klout and PeerIndex, our relevance to the world is measured and scored, but these sites do not have all details. They are missing capability, and guess at influence.
Take a peek at Seth Godin’s blog today (March 21, 2012) and he touches upon one of my favorite topics, the difference between correlation and causation. Here is the relevance; People who connect people do not really need to worry about the difference, it is a visceral, emotional thing. It ‘feels’ right to facilitate a connection. However, people who connect dots DO need to understand the difference. Connecting dots requires insights into what caused what, and a base level of why.
Seth Godin also shared his thoughts at the Gartner conference. He is not only a gifted write, but a fabulous speaker, there is one point he made, which I keep coming back to:
“Don’t work to be heard at the office, work to be missed when your not (there)”
The most value members of any team in business are the people who solve problems, lead and have a vision. If they have a positive attitude and can connect the dots and the people, the value will be easy to recognize, when you are not there, it will be missed. The title of this blog is what it is for a reason, thanks for sharing my journey. My work at Sword Ciboodle allows me the time to do a bit of both, and for that I am thankful. Written on an 80 degree cloudless day, in March, in Vermont.
(The Image was created – not by me, follow links – with NodeXL, an open-source template for graphing network data in Excel® 2007 and 2010. Network: First 100 YouTube videos returned on a search for “thriller” Nodes: YouTube video Node Size: number of views )