Wednesday, September 27, 2017

E-Mail based Social Network Analysis is “Google Maps for Social Landscapes”

Our team at MIT and galaxyadvisors has been creating e-mail and other social media based social networking maps for the last 15 years. The question we have to constantly answer is why it is a good thing to have these social networking maps, which I call “social landscapes”. The way to think about them is like a "Google Map for social landscapes". Google Maps has become immensely useful to me for driving the congested roads in Boston and Zurich. While I have been living in both cities for multiple decades, and usually know my way around, Google Maps has become indispensable for seeing where precisely I am, and where to go next. Through location tracking it shows me where precisely I am. And by aggregating the changes in anonymous location tracking information of thousands of drivers like myself, it shows me where the traffic jams and road construction is, taking me on the fastest way to my destination, and accurately predicting when I will reach my goal.

Our social media tools Condor and Condorview provide similar naviation tools for the social landscape of individuals and organizations. The aggregated social network map tells me how the overall social geography of my collaboration network looks like, where potential roadblocks and shortcuts might be to more efficiently reach my goal.  The picture below shows three screen shots of our Condorview tool, which gives an individual a personalized anonymized overview of their social environment.

The left picture shows an aggregated overview, where, in a radar chart, the individual sees how well she communicates using the seven honest signals of creative communication our team developed. In the radar chart the individual signals are compared against the aggregated anonymous mean.  The middle chart show an exemplary bar chart where the individuals see their communication balance compared to team members, while the right chart shows their social network, with the individual in the center. Giving this information, and telling individuals how to interpret it will give them guidance how to improve communication for better collaboration similarly to how Google Maps allows the driver to drive more efficiently to their destination.

This information gives each person a virtual mirror of their communication behavior, similarly to how Google Maps gives them a virtual mirror of their driving navigation. In prior work we have shown that virtual mirroring can significantly increase hard metrics like customer satisfaction.

Recently a customer and research collaborator introduced Virtual Mirroring Based Learning at his company, using Condor to create e-mail based social networking maps for virtual mirroring for managers and employees.  Showing a pattern of the past allows each person to see a complete view of the present social landscape in a way they have never seen it before, which permits them much better navigation in the future.

The Best Way to Predict the Future is to Create It Yourself.

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