We've got 20 members in the community now, and I hope we can start a little bit of discussion to help get to know each other and to help new members too. So here goes:
What is the first thing that someone new to social capital should do to make a difference to the connections and relationships within their organisation?
I would say assess the mindset and the culture around. From my experience, there are different levels of organizational maturity in looking at the connections rather than the parts. If there is readiness than I would suggest picking up 2-3 practices (managerial/HR) and re-think about them in the context of connectivity - how do they promote/inhibit connectivity? How would this practices be designed if collaboration and connectivity were top priority?
And I definitely agree with this too - and maturity around understanding connections will be a large part of the broader best fit approach I was referring to in my other response. So if the person is 'mature' what 2-3 practices have you seen work well? And if not, what have you done instead to build that maturity, or to take other actions given that the maturity isn't there?
Before the examples, I want to distinguish between individual practices and HR/managerial practices. I make this distinction as I referred to organizational maturity, and you asked me about individual maturity, and I see these as different questions. At the organizational level examples can be HR practices such as performance management - how do current practices support or hinder collaboration? It can also be about work processes - are they encouraging silos or cross-functional collaboration? In one organization I consulted with processes worked as a chain with group 1 passing to group 2 passing to group 3 - this caused a lot of problems in productivity, errors, workloads, conflicts and more. What we did was built in shorter sub-processes to get a-priori feedback at group 1, solving later conflicts. In addition, we worked to increase awareness of the critical interdependency points which opened communication lines that were closed before. At the individual level, some practices may include 2nd degree influence and effective weaving of the network. One of the managers I worked with indicated that learning how to think in 2nd-degree was one of the most powerful tools he has received as it opened up a range of possibilities he was not aware of before.
I hope these examples help and I would love to learn about what others think or use
If the maturity is not there (at least at the individual level) than I try to use data as an objective basis on which agreement can be reached and insights can be discussed. With that being said, there are been managers I have worked with that did not get the importance of relations. The individual KPIs meant everything and the social, soft side was not well understood (or explained, depending on the perspective :)