Social Connection as an Input

I have written about productivity pretty extensively in the past (here and here). And one of the emerging themes that have been featured in my writing is that we are not exactly measuring and trying to target the right areas for our society. Allow me to rewrite the story: it’s not that we are measuring the wrong things but that we have already exhausted the improvements in productivity that can be gained from the ‘hard stuff’ and that we really have to start looking at the ‘softer’ stuff.

And I’d like to expand on the idea that culture is an input to productivity; and this is through the impact that social connection have on people, on the way they think, work and play. More importantly, in the knowledge-based economy, it has a huge impact on the way people come up with ideas.

Companies don’t have ideas; only people do. And what motivates people are the bonds and loyalty and trust they develop between each other. What matters is the mortar, not just the bricks. 

Margaret Heffernan

But ideas seem to be such a non-concrete output and is refined over time that we find it hard to properly quantify. That does not mean we should not try. Often we know that speaking to one another spark ideas; and that is because the social connection motivates and stimulates us.

In fact, organisations probably need to be good at ideas-management more than people-management because people should generally be able to manage themselves as long as they have that social glue that pulls them together. When everyone matters, the group as a whole delivers more; because that social capital ‘compounds’ powerfully.

Here is the full TED talk that Margaret Heffernan gave in 2015, with the opening story of the Super Chicken experiment that I referred to in the previous blog post.