In researching network theories as applied to organizations, discourse, games, and identity, I've been pondering the power of the social network to dominate the other networks and asking myself, is this most effective way to run a company? It seems that the current position of the company in the cycles of event types determines the network that should be chosen for the most effective communications media. A company that is seeking stability relies on the social network. Why? Research indicates that the social network favors the oldest relationships as these have longer lifecycles and have settled into stable orbits. Social networks do provide a fast and efficient under the table messaging medium.
What about a company that has evolved in a sub-optimum mode for innovation and now needs to make rapid changes to kick start innovation efforts?
The social networks are deadly to this goal. The tendancy of the members to preserve status quo ostracizes any source of new ideas that threaten the social oligarchy unless that source reinforces the positions of the oligarchs.
Social networks are necessary and where one doesn't exist, human resources and management will create one. However, without the challenge of learning and adopting technologies appropriate to the environment BEFORE it emerges, these networks only preserve power and often at the expense of adaptation and flexible response. Smart executives know that if the social network is the only effective means of communication, the company is dead and just doesn't know it.
Schadenfreude as a concept has become a cliche, but it is the one really effective means to eliminate innovation. Humiliation drives out thought just as its close cousin, fear, kills it. White pigging is alive and well in the social networks of the companies dominated by the formerly successful innovators who cannot accept that just as pop artist must, they have to know when to get off the stage and let a fresh act take it. Even when we have fans, we may not be doing our business much good to keep on giving them the old hits.