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 / Autumn 2006 / Issue 44(originally published by Booz & Company)


The Craft of Connection

“The system we have developed is intrinsically rewarding to the users,” says Guillermo Velasquez, a senior consultant in the Performance Optimization Group at Halliburton, and former knowledge management program manager for the Energy Services Group. “People participate because they see value. Experts get recognition. As time goes by and people in the community start to know each other, they develop reciprocity. An individual in need today may be tomorrow’s expert providing the knowledge to help solve a problem. Gradually, we see much higher trust, and the community changes from the mode of ‘getting the right information to the right person at the right time’ to truly start building on each other’s ideas to find a solution to a problem. In other words, that’s when we start creating knowledge.”

Achieving such an intangible goal may sound too soft for a hard-nosed operating executive. But in today’s outsourced and lean enterprises, there is no viable choice but to tap the full potential of your people. Despite the inherently complex nature of human interaction, social network analysis provides a way to make targeted interventions to communities of practice. Our experience demonstrates that this approach can engender a true knowledge-creating organization.

Reprint No. 06302

Author Profiles:

Tim Laseter ([email protected]) serves on the faculty of the Darden Graduate School of Business at the University of Virginia. He is the coauthor, with Ron Kerber, of Strategic Product Development (McGraw-Hill, forthcoming, 2006). Formerly a vice president with Booz Allen Hamilton, he has more than 20 years of experience in operations strategy and supply chain management.

Rob Cross ([email protected]), a faculty member at the McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia, is an expert on organizational network analysis. He is research director of the Network Roundtable and the coauthor, with Andrew Parker, of The Hidden Power of Social Networks: Understanding How Work Really Gets Done in Organizations (Harvard Business School Press, 2004).
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