I’ve had seen Karen Stephenson speak some years at at IBM Palisades, so I was interested to hear an update from her.
Karen Stephenson shares her decades of experience in quantitative social network analysis, explaining how the measurement of relationships reveals general principles and patterns that can be seen across organizations. Diagramming the build-up and breakdown of trust networks gives insight for diagnosing management problems, and, better yet, opens the door to designing more innovative models to face our modern challenges.
Trusted networks do not exist in org charts. Considering the mass-layoffs many companies are facing today, they are in danger of losing the working knowledge of their organizations.
Professor Stephenson’s concept, which she calls the “quantum theory of trust,” explains not just how to recognize the collective cognitive capability of organizations, but how to cultivate and increase it. She is the most visible member (particularly in business circles) of a small but growing academic field called social network analysis. Originally derived from the complex math used to explain subatomic physics, it is being used to understand and manage the ineffable forces of human interaction within an organization’s walls — particularly those forces that can’t be captured in formal structures, such as pay scales and reporting relationships, but that implicitly govern the fate of every enterprise.