At the executive breakfast to which I referred in my previous posting, there was mention of another benefit of private social networks that I found interesting.
The ability of the system to track followers and their impressions of the people that they followed as well as the ability to specifically “+1″ on discussion comments, provides a new way for management to recognize people who are contributing useful ideas and providing help to others in the organization.
For those involved in knowledge management, this may be the first time that there is an easy means to recognize contributions outside the hierarchical structure.
Currently people tend to be measured by their contribution to their boss’s goals and achievements inside their own team.
In a social network, contributions across the organization are measurable and the influence of an individual on the organization’s overall success is tracked.
If management takes advantage of this, it provides an incentive for mentors and corporate “knowledge keepers” to take the time to help others, publish useful articles and to develop a reputation as a source of good advice.
Management can now see who the informal leaders are in the organization and may be pleasantly surprised to find people whose value as an organizational resource might be much higher than others with better managerial and political skills whose contributions are rewarded by promotion and increased managerial responsibility.
This could be a way to measure the value of the contribution of knowledge management practitioners at the individual level in conjunction with recognition of their contribution to projects’outcomes in which they are involved in.
It also helps the KM group to identify people that they should be recruiting or at least supporting.
If the knowledge management group is proactive in implementing and promoting social networking, it will have a measurable impact on the organization.
The growth of contributors with followers and the growth of articles and discussion threads can be a way to measure the effectiveness of the knowledge management group.
This may be very helpful in retaining a knowledge management momentum, if large initiatives can not be funded.