Friday, April 08, 2005

Feeling Young Again

At a dinner with some Microsoft People where I was once again reminded that my company is just wildly different from most of the CHI community. Microsoft is about 30 years old. Give or take a year. My cubicle mate has been here for 33 years. On some level, this is key organizational strength. The question is how can this be leveraged? Especially since there is a clear demographic "hump" moving through the company, one that embodies a great deal of the knowledge of how things are done.

I had been batting around doing some exploration about organizational tenure and social networks. I think I now have a reasonable number of people from various groups within the company, and a reasonable idea about how to gather data.

No clue yet how to analyze the data, but that's nothing new.


Blogger Q said...

what do you mean, organize the data? In matrix form of course! ;) with organizational tenure as attribute of each node, but you must have some markers of "moving up the ladder" vs "staying the same position" for each person as well and "how long known" for each link (not that you don't konw know any of this ;).

What's the question though? I wonder, whether organizational tenure goes along with company employee management practices for different types of employees (some companies do not want to retain employees for a very long time, it gets costly) as much as with knowledge retainment and transfer. Transactive memory is a tough question, eh? I wonder whether retaining a picture of a social network of a retired employee and informing the new arrival of an approximate set of people they should get to know (formally vs. informally) would speed up adjustment and integration?

Can a form of tagging and indexing of employee activity be converted into something that can retain aspects of knowledge and be accessible to replacements as a minable database of answers to "what to do if" questions? What happens if several employees in a social network retire at the same time? how much damage does the network actually sustain as newcomers learn its shape and re-shape it?

How much value is there in a blundering newcomer, as they act in ways that people that were there before them never did? The "newcomer" theories (small groups have loads of theory on this) suggest that newcomers, employee replacements are essential to the vitality of the company and that such renewal can be extremely beneficial if done right. Looks like you might have a nice field study on your hands in that area ;)

7:53 AM  

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