Connection, Collaboration and the New Economy

Just received David Gurteen's latest Knowledge Lletter and was struck by his opener:

Some sound advice here from David Ogilivy. We send an email when we would do better to walk around to the person we wish to engage and have a conversation with them or failing that pick up the phone.

In reading this, I made a connection with a statement by Peter Block that struck me when I read it at the time.

Connection -- We must establish a personal connection with each other.

Connection before content. Without relatedness, no work can occur.

Credit: Civic Engagement and the Restoration of Community: Changing the Nature of the Conversation by Peter Block

I've had a number of conversations along the same lines recently. It's not enough to say that we live in a "knowledge" economy. Because the value of knowledge is very small unless it is put to work (then it can be infinite).

How do you put knowledge to work? It happens collaboratively.

10468392473?profile=originalKnowledge put to work is intangible capital. IC is a dynamic system including all the elements pictured above. It's impossible to talk about work today without talking about each of these elements, how they interact and how the system creates value. This concept of work as a dynamic collaborative system is very different from the linear processes that characterized work in the industrial era. 

Connection before collaboration, before work is done? It makes a lot of sense. But it speaks to a very different view of the organization, one that demands new approaches to measurement, new approaches to management. one that truly values the intangibles held in human, relationship, structural and strategic capital. What to get work done? Start thinking differently.

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  • Hi Peter. Glad to hear from you!

    I actually agree that the lines are blurred between all of the categories of IC at different times. After all, a lot of IC is collaborative knowledge so it is constantly flowing. Despite this, I think it's valuable to identify the key elements of each category because it makes the intangible more tangible and then measureable and manageable. There is also a different management approach dictated by each category. You manage external relationships differently from the way you manage internal people, for example.

    This logic is one of the reasons I made a shift in the last year to move culture into strategic capital. Culture (which speaks to the ability to collaborate, trust, share) has to be understood and build as aggressively as the business model/value proposition. In fact, this is why in other depictions of IC like the map here we have been putting strategic capital/purpose at the center of the map.

    One other comment is that we are seeing the rise of social technologies accelerating the interest in the market in IC. I've recently seen some preliminary research (we'll be writing about it soon) showing how collaboration and related competencies have sky rocketed in importance in labor surveys. Once you start talking about collaboration, you are more ready to take the holistic, intangible view that our field provides.

  • For employees to collaborate together and with external partners, the organisation needs to invest in the development of Collaboration as a core organisational competency.  The strength of this competency is perhaps the key to measuring the value of this 'intangible capital'.   I have previously referred to this collaborative competency as something that applies internally (to the organisation's HC) and externally (as part of the organisation's relationship capital) and questioning as to blurring of lines between HC and RC.  The organisation's ability to connect actors across internal organisational identinty boundaries, as well as across external organisatonal boundaries forms part of its collaborative competency.

    Sadly, investment in the development of collaborative competencies appears to be lagging due to a lack of awareness of this intangible capital, leading to potential high costs of collaborative inertia when we still have old hierarchal management mindsets applied to new ways of organising (collaborative networks).  Perhaps when we can demonstrate (measure) the value of this capital and benefits, then the appropriate investment will flow.

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