Friday, 30 June 2017

The Social Organization

'Social Advantage' has become 'The Social Organization'.

My new book which has been informed by these blogs is now out.

Use code AHRTSO20 on the Kogan Page website for a 20% discount: 

My new website for further updates on how businesses can compete by accumulating social capital is at: 

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Wednesday, 25 September 2013

#2013NLS - Matthew Lieberman and the Social Landscape

I'm at the first UK based Neuro Leadership Summit today and we're starting with UCLA based social researcher, Matthew Lieberman, plus the CIPD's Peter Cheese, on navigating the social landscape.

Lieberman's perspective on social is focused around how are brains are wired to connect (his recent book explains why.)

So for example if we reflect on our most painful experiences they tend to be connected with relationships.  However, although we accept a broken leg caused us real pain we tend to think of social pain as more of a metaphor.  That's not really the case - a broken heart is real.  We can see the brain is more active when people are included in social activities.  And paracetemol treats social pain too.

Why are we built this way?  Is it useful that social pain can inhibit us - is it a great evolutionary mishap?  We need air, food, shelter - and an iPhone of course.  Maslow suggests other needs only kick in when these basic needs are satisfied.  But actually, mammals need social interaction too - we can't survive when we are born unless there is someone taking care of us - someone who is so interested in us that they help us time and time again.  So Lieberman puts social needs at the bottom of his pyramid.

As well as social pain, we've activated by social pleasures - social rewards including people, drugs and money.  Particular ping points include having someone you love send a message about how much they love you.  Having strangers tell you they respect you.  Giving money and other things to others.  Holding someone's hand as they go through something stressful.

But the prevalent view is that we can motivate people by money.  And we are selfish creatures, but we're not just selfish.  Our desire to connect with each others is a basic truth about ourselves.  It's basic state about ourselves.  A social super power!

So its's interesting that in terms of money given, time spent etc, Facebook is our third biggest religion.  What is the value of this behaviour?  Economists suggest the equivalent value of spending time with good friends is about $100k per year.  Volunteering has the same effect of increasing salary from $20 to $70k.  When kids give toys to others they look much happier than way they are given the same toys.  There is an intrinsic joy in this.


You can see the impact of social in the way we act constantly as mind readers.  They're not perfect - the secret is to predict the way others predict the way we will behave.  This gives us a great opportunity for cooperation and collaboration.  We need to be able to think intelligently about your goals and feelings.  It's another social super power.

Is it a general example of our ability to think analytically.  No - we have a separate brain system in the mid-line of the brain vs our pre-frontal lobe for this type of thinking - mentalising = thinking about the minds of other people.

An important point about this social network is that other types of thinking tends to shut it down.  They're on a see saw - they're not just distinct, they're oppositional.  Analytical thinking stops us mentalising.

We need to help businesses give time and focus on this social type of thinking.  Eg just give people breaks between maths problems so our brains can switch back into social networking mode.  Also, showing a picture of a brain helps us get behind people's actions and understand what they were thinking and feeling behind this.


the third social superpower is thinking about yourself - as this is normally done in terms of how do you fit into a group, and this is done by the same social network.


Because the social kryponite is that we forget about the power of social - it doesn't stay salient.

For example when kids are asked how connected they feel at school - the US comes last, and there's lots of bullying - verbal and cyber as well as physical.  And it takes place in the workplace too.  We are increasingly aware of the major mental health consequences but we forget about the performance impacts - when we leave the playground and are back in the classroom and we're no longer being bulled.  It continues because we're still impacted by that physical pain.  Same when it's social but we tend to think people should just get over it.  IQ and GRE test scores drop after people have been rejected.

Also re learning in classrooms and businesses - being social is the best way to learn but we tend to discount the social behaviour.  Prosocial behaviour (preparing to teach someone else) is more useful than prepping to take a test.  This isn't about consolidation through teaching - it's just preparing to do it.  Because this involves a different mental system.  Productivity is hugely increased by focusing on how you are helping other people.


What about leadership?  If a leader is very analytical and results focused very little chance they will be seen as a great leader.  But chance sky rockets if they also have good social skills - acts as a multiplier.  Needs both - social skills on their own don't work either.


We need a clearer focus on these social super powers - it's important.  Eg we know giving physical rewards activates dopamine in the brain.  But so does praise and it doesn't cost anything!!!

We need to understand them analytically - and practice enough to make part of our gut processing.  And we're not at that point yet!


Technorati Tags: london, Matthew Lieberman, neuroleadership, summit, social reward, social pain

Monday, 24 June 2013

The New (Social) HR

BNDdVevCMAAf6wj.jpg_large.jpg  Here are my slides on 'The New (Social) HR' from SHRM's Annual Conference in Chicago.

I tried using some of the other presenters tweets in my own presentation, which I thought was an appropriately social thing to do.

The last tweet, my favourite on the social HR agenda, was from #E2Conf, the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Chicago though - reinforcing that HR are still catching up with IT on this agenda.

The New HR - presentation at #SHRM13 annual conference in Chicago - Jon Ingham from Jon Ingham


Picture credits: Jim Stroud


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Technorati Tags: Social HR, SHRM, annual conference, Chicago

Monday, 17 June 2013

#SHRM13 Social Business / HR Systems

Screen Shot 2013-06-16 at 14.30.21.png  I'm at SHRM's Annual Conference in Chicago this week.

One of the things I really like about this conference is that a lot of the presentation slides are out in advance (I've got until tomorrow to do mine).  I did try to look through these in advance, but even 8 hours on the plane from London wasn't anywhere near enough to preview them.  But here is what I take away as the main socially oriented presentations (currently through to later today and will update later.)

I'll be blogging on at least some of these - but since most of the sessions are naturally quite HR oriented, I'll be posting these at Strategic HCM rather than over here.  (As you might have noticed, I don't get to post here that much these days anyway.)


Monday 17

  • 7.00 David Miller, As the Social Media World Turns (basic overview of social media, from someone who doesn't seem to have a Twitter address)
  • 7.00 Jennifer McClure, The Future of HR (looks a great session)
  • 10.45 Richard Fegerlin, The Truth on Trust
  • 10.45 Mike Reardon, Disney's Approach - not especially social, but definitely highly human!
  • 10.45 Don Delves, The Pay Problem (some good slides on why CEO pay can demotivate and reduce collaboration with employees)
  • 10.45 Matt Kaiser, Social Recruiting (some great insights, including from Matt's experience at Ericsson)
  • 2.00 David Rock, The Neuroscience of Growing Talent (haven't seen the slides but expect lots of evidence for the importance of social connection)
  • 2.00 Louis Richard Lessig, to BYOD or Not? (not strictly about social but an issue organisations frequently have to deal with as part of a move to social)
  • 2.00 Stephen Frost, Diversity to a Deadline - London 2012 Games
  • 4.00 Neal Goodman, Strategies to Build Cultural Competence
  • 4.00 Trisha Zulic, Your Technology Wardrobe
  • 4.00 Steve Boese, Harnessing Social Tools to Transform HR
  • 4.00 Jason Lauritsen and Joe Gerstandt, Strategic Relationship Management
  • Brad Karsh, Manager 3.0
  • Sue Jones, Managing Workplace Conflicts


I hope others will be blogging on these sessions as well and would encourage those who do to share these on the Social HR community on Google+.


And a reminder my own session on 'The New (Social) HR' will be at 10.45 on Tuesday (after Dan Pink).


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Technorati Tags: Social HR, SHRM, annual conference, Chicago

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Chile, national culture, social media and social business

Screen Shot 2013-06-11 at 16.24.33.png  I was out in Colombia and Chile last week presenting on managing people for social capital.

I'd already localised my presentation as I always do, incorporating a couple of local companies and an analysis of the local culture in my presentation.  So I'd already been prepared to talk about how national levels of social capital and trust in South America can be quite low.  (I see that as an opportunity for companies operating there, as I don't think they necessarily need to be limited by the context of their national cultures but it also means there's a greater opportunity to differentiate themselves from other local companies which believe that they are.

What I hadn't quite picked up was how low this trust can go.  So thanks to Alberta Blanco, one of my co-hackers at the MIX, who the day before I did my session in Chile, sent me this graph on levels of trust in OECD countries:


Screen Shot 2013-06-07 at 13.04.45.png


As you can see, Chile has the lowest levels of trust of all these countries.  That might present a challenge in developing social capital!

It may therefore also seem strange that Chile has the highest GDP growth within the OECD (5.2% compared to the 1.4% average) but actually these things are linked the other way around.  Quick increases in wealth increase income inequality which is a major break on trust.  So I understand these two seemingly oppositional findings.

What I don't understand so well is the contrast between low trust / social capital and high social networking use:

"Chile ranks fifth in the world for social networking usage A recent study has suggested that Chile has the fifth highest usage of social networking sites worldwide.  Chileans spend up to a third of their time on social networking. The average Chilean internet user spends around 8.7 hours per day on social networking sites.  This figure is some 3.3 hours greater than the worldwide average of 5.4 hours per day."


I asked about this at the Chile conference and was told that the social networking use there is fairly superficial i.e. about sharing photos and things rather than communicating about anything of consequence.  Fine apart from most social networking use elsewhere is inconsequential too.  And that I question whether you would want to even share your photos with someone you don't trust.

There's something else going on.  I haven't checked but I suspect it's about something to do with how trust is.  That Chileans trust family and closer friends and that their networking is with them.  but that they don't trust, or social networking with, people who are further removed.

Any thoughts? - particularly if you attended the session?



Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Social Media in HR Summit, Dublin, Ireland


   I’ve recently arranged to speak at another couple of great conferences over the next few months.  On Thursday 27th / Friday 28th September I’ll be speaking at Fleming Europe’s Social Media in HR Summit held in Dublin:


How to leverage social media properly?

Are organizations exploiting social media to reach external audiences?

Who is using social media in the workplace?

Do organizations provide any social media training to employees who engage in social media activities?

These are only a few questions that were asked in the SHRM Survey 2011: Social Media in the Workplace. The results were rather startling. They revealed that while 68 % of organizations leverage social media to reach external audiences, only 27 % of them provide employees with training on how to work with social media.

Are you among them? Are you looking for a change?


At this one-of-a-kind event participants will meet highly qualified experts from Microsoft, Deloitte, LinkedIn, Twitter, Nokia, Orange, Ford, Unilever, Vodafone, Dell, Samsung, HSBC, etc. These forward-looking, top-level enthusiasts working in the strategic communications industry and new media will focus on the importance of embedding digital thinking and social media impacts in HR practice.

In order to bridge the gap between the necessary and real-life practice we have chosen topics including social engagement, recruitment futurology, digital networks, social media footprints, risks and exploitation of social media strategies and much more.

Fleming Europe's premiere cross-industry HR event is aimed at Senior Executives responsible for Talent, Recruiting, Knowledge Management, Employee Engagement and Learning as well as Communication Executives responsible for Employer Branding, Internal Communication and Social Media.

Are you interested in exploring the most 'viral' social network issues? Do you want to seize the opportunity to gain valuable contacts and useful information? Then do not hesitate and join us in Dublin. Learn more at


I hope you can join me there.  And I’ll be live blogging from the event here too.


Technorati Tags: Fleming Europe,social media,HR,Dublin,Ireland,summit,conference


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Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Social Business Strategy Summit


   I followed the tweets from the Social Business Strategy Summit in London last week.  I didn’t get to go as 1. I was busy, 2. they didn’t invite to speak and 3. I’ve been getting increasingly irritated by how much focus there is on IT in these events to the exclusion of all else.  It’s absolutely not that I’m against technology, but it doesn’t need to be the starting point! (see it’s not not not about the technology).

This event followed pretty much the same pattern, but there were some interesting points on HR’s role in social business, eg:

31 May Luis SuarezLuis Suarez @elsua

@joningham Yes, me, too, Jon! I can’t wait to dive into learning more about HR is shifting gears & see how we can all help #sbss12

31 May Luis SuarezLuis Suarez @elsua

@tdebaillon @joningham @deb_lavoy @krcraft @ValdisKrebs They aren’t,but we r!, they need to readjust, if they’d want to retain their talent

31 May Luis SuarezLuis Suarez @elsua

@joningham Amen! And why i’m very interested in finding out about HR related events to learn more about their change #sbss12

31 May Thierry de BaillonThierry de Baillon @tdebaillon

@joningham @deb_lavoy @krcraft @valdiskrebs @elsua Problem is HR isn't wired for distributed knowledge sharing & social evaluation#sbss12

31 May Jon InghamJon Ingham @joningham

@deb_lavoy @krcraft @tdebaillon @ValdisKrebs @elsua HR's already stepping up. Now, as for Marketing & IT- there's another story!!!! #sbss12

31 May Luis SuarezLuis Suarez @elsua

RT @ValdisKrebs: @elsua @tdebaillon @deb_lavoy @krcraft Yes! Why Social Capital is the Killer App for "HR" #sbss12 /+1

31 May Luis SuarezLuis Suarez @elsua

@tdebaillon @deb_lavoy Probably not,but if that gets them to question what they r doing to think deeper I’m happy w/ it;it’s a start#sbss12

31 May deb louison lavoydeb louison lavoy @deb_lavoy

no RT @krcraft: @tdebaillon Can the advances in HRTech overcome the inherent HR 'Catbert' culture? @ValdisKrebs @elsua@deb_lavoy #sbss12

31 May deb louison lavoydeb louison lavoy @deb_lavoy

HR needs to step up RT @tdebaillon: @ValdisKrebs @elsua@deb_lavoy @krcraft Agree. And maybe the way out from outdated HR processes #sbss12

31 May Thierry de BaillonThierry de Baillon @tdebaillon

@ValdisKrebs @elsua @deb_lavoy @krcraft Agree. And maybe the way out from those outdated HR processes #sbss12

31 May Kelly CraftKelly Craft @krcraft

RT @deb_lavoy: no RT @tdebaillon: @elsua @deb_lavoy And still are. A question: is adopting social enough to make them change?#sbss12

31 May Valdis KrebsValdis Krebs @ValdisKrebs

@elsua @tdebaillon @deb_lavoy @krcraft Yes! Why Social Capital is the Killer App for "HR" #sbss12

31 May Thierry de BaillonThierry de Baillon @tdebaillon

@elsua @deb_lavoy And still are. A question: is adopting social enough to make them change? Not sure #sbss12

31 May Luis SuarezLuis Suarez @elsua

@hyounpark And funny enough I would include HR in that lot, too! Interestingly enough hehe #sbss12 we had it right at the heart!


I do think some of the remarks were unfair – HR (or more precisely often OD) is doing some great work in this area.  But I do wish HR practitioners would show more interest in the non-HR areas of social business too.


Technorati Tags: HR,social media,social business,strategy,summit,London


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