Formulas for Success

There is something about ‘Formulas for Success’ that can be both appealing and irritating. The appealing part is of course the simplicity of it. If I could boil down the complexity of my life into a set of simple algorithms, then life would all of a sudden become much simpler. The irritating part is that we generally don’t believe that the world can be described simply as a set of formulas. What formulas do well, however is to cut to the chase. They remove the clutter and identify what core elements you need to concern yourself with. That is why I was attracted to this little excerpt from Adam Grant’s recent newsletter:

From My Desk:

  1. Deep Work: The Secret to Achieving Peak Productivity
    Cal Newport grilled me about my work habits. I walked away with one equation from him and one of my own:
    Productivity = (time spent) X (intensity of focus)
    Creativity = (time spent) X (variety of ideas)

It occurred to me that these two formulae succinctly capture the two dimensions of our Organizational Network Performance model:

The productivity formula maps to our ‘Exploiting’ quadrant, where high cohesion and low diversity equates to an intensity of focus. On the other hand, high diversity and low cohesion equates to the ‘Exploring’ quadrant and a variety of ideas. Time spent equates simply to the volume of online activity and/or the number of active users in an organisation.

Therefore, we can translate Adam Grant’s two formulae for application to online collaborations as:

Performance = Activity X Cohesion X Diversity

That is, we can expect maximum performance, when we can combine both creativity and productivity; our ‘Engaging’ quadrant.

As a teaser for our upcoming Enterprise Social Networking benchmarking report, here is the close to 60 organisations that are running either Microsoft’s Yammer or Workplace from Facebook plotted onto our performance framework, according to the above formula. The axes represent the average diversity and cohesion/reciprocity scores for all active members from each organisation.

We can see that performance follows a power curve. In comparing organisations of different sizes, the activity element is reflected in the size of the circles, and represents the relative number of active users.

Stay posted for our full benchmarking report, which we expect to be available by the end of April.




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