We live in a networked world in which everything is interconnected. We have unlimited opportunities to connect with people around the globe, to find like-minded people and an expert for everything. Professional cross-company networks such as Linkedin allow us to make contacts around the world, around the clock. Why are we still so badly networked within companies? And how can internal organizational silos be reduced? Here’s why networking is the key to almost all processes of digital transformation, and what we should all do more of to improve our careers:
Our life in a networked world
Although politics often just discusses the basics, digitalization has long since made its way into our private and everyday lives: purchasing movie tickets while sitting on the living room couch; using mobile platforms to organize weekly family activities; mobile work; digital exchange with friends. Mobile communications options are changing the way we connect and how we organize, share and spread information.
How small our networked world really is: everyone knows everyone through a maximum of six degrees of separation.
The world is a village – “Six degrees of separation”
Network theorists speak of the so-called small-world phenomenon. The term was coined in 1967 by the American psychologist Stanley Milgram. It says that every human being is linked to every other by an average of six degrees of separation. The most recent and comprehensive evidence for this thesis came from Jure Leskovec at Carnegie Mellon University and Eric Horvitz at Microsoft Research in 2006. The two analyzed the connections of 240 million instant messenger accounts and came to the conclusion that two people know each other via 6.6 other people on average. In some cases, the path can be significantly longer, up to 29 links, the researchers concluded based on the evaluation of the data.
The Internet of Things is now also entering all our spheres of life. Our world is getting smarter. Devices can be networked and become intelligent objects: there are smart houses, coffee machines and refrigerators; cars that communicate with each other and provide more safety on the road.
Networking is the key to a globalized world.
It’s a match – how private dating has changed
Private dating services have also changed radically in recent years. Online dating has been around since the beginning of the internet. Again and again, new platforms have been added, and now it’s perfectly normal for relationships to start online. Using digital technologies and clever algorithms, we can find people around the globe who are a good fit for us.
Areas, Silos, Departments & Co. – Why are we so badly networked in companies?
So, we live in a networked, globalized world and it has become a matter of course for most of us. Nevertheless, there are still areas where networking has not penetrated completely: companies. And this despite the fact that the economic success of companies today increasingly depends on their networking. Cooperative work clearly contributes to strengthening competitiveness and innovation. So why is that?
Regarding old and established structures: what was good in the age of industrialization (clear structures and processes, an extremely well-thought-out division of labor and specialization, a clear hierarchy and reliable but rigid working hours) can only fail in the age of digitalization. Today we are dealing with new framework conditions and requirements from the environment.
So, what should you do? Organizations need networked structures and fundamental cultural changes. Flexibility and collaboration are essential for holistic digitalization. However, neither is possible in silos. Much of company knowledge lies in the minds of the employees. They need structures and working methods that not only allow creative, innovative and free thinking, but actively promote it. In companies, therefore, one’s own digital transformation always begins with the successful networking of employees and a flexibilization of working models and structures. Companies have to become matchmakers.
And internal networking is worthwhile at all levels: relevant knowledge remains in the company, and employees can work together more collaboratively and optimally complement each other, thereby promoting the ability to innovate. New employees can learn more easily, and knowledge is available more quickly to everyone. Thus, we need more of the “Tinder” approach in the workplace.
The positive effects of networked work are also demonstrated by the success of Working Out Loud. Simply put, it is a set of practical techniques and tools to build relationships. However, for many WOL devotees, implementing these principles has completely changed the way they work. Through stories, practices and exercises you deepen relationships and can change your own behavior. This makes you more open, generous and connected. This in turn means that the entire corporate culture is becoming more open, innovative, and collaborative, and knowledge silos are being reduced. No wonder companies like Siemens, Daimler, BOSCH and Continental are already successfully using Working Out Loud.