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Connector heuristics

Posted by  Shawn Callahan —March 10, 2006
Filed in Business storytelling, Communication

Malcolm Gladwell’s post on a quick and dirty way of picking winning NBA Knicks teams got me thinking about other helpful heuristics. In particular I was asked by a client how they might identify the connectors in their large (10,000+ people) organisation. Sure, you could attempt a social network analysis, perhaps analyse email traffic, but both approaches are time consuming and don’t really fit my ‘quick & dirty’ concept.

Stewart Forsyth and I were talking about this idea yesterday and we hit on the thought of simply identifying those people who are likely to connectors based on their role or some other identifiable characteristic. Here is our first cut of connector categories. Our contention is that these types of people are most likely connectors—can you think of others?.

  • Union reps
  • Successful business development (connectors outside the organisation)
  • Personal assistants
  • Professional association leaders
  • Community of practice leaders
  • People who travel around the organisation (high travel costs)

We discover heuristics during knowledge mapping exercises and each time it’s a key breakthrough for our client. It’s important, therefore, we make more of finding and applying heuristics. To get a good feel for this area I recommend you start by reading Blink, then have a look at Gary Klein’s Sources of Power. Gladwell references this paper and while I haven’t read it I have a copy of Simple Heuristics That Make Us Smart which features the same author.

About  Shawn Callahan

Shawn, author of Putting Stories to Work, is one of the world's leading business storytelling consultants. He helps executive teams find and tell the story of their strategy. When he is not working on strategy communication, Shawn is helping leaders find and tell business stories to engage, to influence and to inspire. Shawn works with Global 1000 companies including Shell, IBM, SAP, Bayer, Microsoft & Danone. Connect with Shawn on:

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