Monday, March 30, 2009

Chrysler Head to Resign While Chrysler Urged to Take Fiat Deal

In a move that may just be window-dressing, the White House has urged GM CEO Rick Wagoner to resign and Chrysler to take a proffered deal with Italian auto maker Fiat in order to receive any additional bailout bucks. This from the New York Times:

The decision to ask G.M.’s chairman and chief executive, Rick Wagoner, to resign caught Detroit and Washington by surprise, and it underscored the Obama administration’s determination to keep a tight rein on the companies it is bailing out — a level of government involvement in business perhaps not seen since the Great Depression.
With Mr. Wagoner having been at the helm for almost a decade, it's clear that he's had ample opportunity to shape the thinking of other executives at GM--his thinking is part of their "DNA." What I find troubling is that there is no mention of the organizational change effort needed to re-shape their thinking (or, failing that, the need for additional blood-letting).

I'm certainly going to keep watching as the dismantling of the old leadership paradigm further disintegrates.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Does the nature of our communication need to change to maximize social networking opportunities?

I posted this question on LinkedIn and thought I'd expand and cross post it, expanded here.

Social Networking. All the rage. However, I'm wondering whether Web 2.0 is really something more like what I've termed Relationship 1.0 (See me! Buy from me!) on a new platform.Given our opportunity to connect with people the world over in an instant, would we be best served to focus a little more attention on the kinds of communication (who or how we need to be or whether we're powerfully "in the world" of another) that works best on these and other platforms (including face to face).

Social network theories originated in sociology, social psychology and anthropology (imagine that) and, at their heart, describe the manner in which people connect. In 1954, J. A. Barnes started using the term systematically to denote patterns of ties between and amongst people, institutions and social groups--social networks. What, I wonder, would happen if those experts--"S.D. Berkowitz, Stephen Borgatti, Ronald Burt, Kathleen Carley, Martin Everett, Katherine Faust, Linton Freeman, Mark Granovetter, David Knoke, Peter Marsden, Nicholas Mullins, Anatol Rapoport, Stanley Wasserman, Barry Wellman, Douglas R. White, and Harrison White" (from told us whether our use of electronic social media to create networks was really allowing us to create lasting connections with some velocity and effectiveness or just ersatz biz and personal links.

For example one theory talks about social distance--the nature of the comfort zone between people who are identified as different from one another (in terms of, for example, race, gender, nationality, sexual orientation). The Bogardus Social Distance Scale for example, uses a scale (below) where 1.0 would indicate no distance (or opportunity for difference-related friction).
  • As close relatives by marriage (score 1.00)
  • As my close personal friends (2.00)
  • As neighbors on the same street (3.00)
  • As co-workers in the same occupation (4.00)
  • As citizens in my country (5.00)
  • As only visitors in my country (6.00)
  • Would exclude from my country (7.00)
So. a Facebook "friend" or Twitter follower from another country may have a SD rating of 7.

Now,taking that a bit further, given what I'm trying to track, I wonder if there are other values to add to the scale to describe the vector point of the connection--what "source" the connection came from or the Connection Distance. Like this:
  • Connected with them directly (score 1.0)
  • Connected with them through a close friend or partner (score 2.0)
  • Connected with them through a business or professional associate (score 3.0)
  • Connected with them through an associate (score 4.0)
  • Connected with them through a stranger (score 5.0)
  • Not previously connected at all (score 6.0)
Could these two elements--Social Distance and Connection Distance--covary? Probably so, though I'm guessing here. What I'm reasonably sure of is that there's a hell of a lot more work to be done to understand these connections and be able to measure their autheicity, depth or value.

Just sayin'!