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Posts tagged ‘sna’

A quick SNA thought to fill the time…

7 May 2009

Derek Thomson

Relational embeddedness is more important than structural embeddedness.

Or, put another way, if we accept that it’s not what we know but who we know, the above proposition advances this to suggest that it’s not who we know, but how we know them.  Considered from the perspective of getting things done within an organisation…

Photoshop tennis

26 April 2009

Derek Thomson

Looking through Jason Santa Maria’s post reblogged reminded me of photoshop tennis, which seemed to be popular a few years back.

His pretty sketchy post is obviously in the constructivist schools (much like this whole tumbr experiment is for me!), but then he jumps into the very much constructionist view of “bouncing ideas backwards and forwards between people” to generate a solution.

I wonder if there’s something the “tennis” model of our SNA work if we do adopt the constructionist view?  Interesting

Constructionism vs. Constructivism

26 April 2009

Derek Thomson

It’s taken me ages to realise that there’s a difference, but it seems:

The constructivist school came first and is characterised by PCT.  Meaning is ascribed internally within an actor as a consequence of their own experiences.  An individual can, however, change their view of the world as a consequence of their interactions with others.  Meaning is therefore developed within a social group as a consequence of influence and negotiation.

Then constructionism came along and is characterised by development of meaning directly from the interactions of actors.  Meaning is collective and developed directly from social interations.  This school would seem, therefore, to assume that an individual can’t understand their world in isolation form others, which seems somewhat odd.  After all, with this view, what would be the point of skiddling?

Constructs span both, it’s just a question of how they are developed and reorganised…

But, if we’re talking about value theory and judgement among a group of stakeholders, then both have to be considered.  This suggests that interpretation of artefacts has to be considered from a fundamentally different perspective if we’re considering an individual or that individual’s function within a group.  We must decide if we assume knwoldge to be generated first by individuals and then shaped by individuals’ interactions, or if comes solely from the interactions of individuals.  Or maybe it’s bits of both…

It’s interesting that the learning theory has only recently hooked onto the social aspects of learning (Laurillard) – i.e. the construcitivist view – and all the reflective learning (reflective design theory; schon’s double loop learning, etc.) are firmly grounded in the constructionist view.

Does this mean that SNA hasn’t yet been meaningfully looked at from the point of view of knowledge generation, or am I missing something???  Having said that, the Tipping Point stuff assumes, through the action of “salesmen,” a constructivist stance.  Although, from memory, it ever acknowledges this.  I may have to read it again…

SNA needs friendship for innovation?

12 April 2009

Derek Thomson

Not my work, but interesting perspective:


Derek Thomson

“Weak ties are not less valuable than strong ties, but more valuable: they need media through which they can develop”


CRITICAL – this would be the purpose of SNA use to stimuate innovation – to find the weak ties and provide them with resource.

Derek Thomson

My interpretation:

If your network contains people who are not in operaitonal proximity to you, they will not help you innovate.

Boundary objects

23 March 2009

Derek Thomson

Connected communities of practice become a collective – but temporary – “community of interest.”  These linked communities of practice will be in operational proximity of each other (with regard to the problem considered).

The “boundary object” is the problem.  It is the thing that connects the communities of practice because they each have a (different) interest in the object.

A boundary object could be machines, software, rules, procedures, etc. — anything imposed by the org’s technostructure.

“A boundary object has meaning within the conceptual knowledge systems of at least two communities of practice.”

INNOVATION and CREATIVITY result because the meaning (understanding) of the boundary object is NOT the same in the communities of practice – it is this difference in understanding that breeds innovation and creativity.

Operational proximity

23 March 2009

Derek Thomson

Can be physical proximity, but more importantly – cognitive / attitudinal proximity.

Operational proximity happens when

– people share the same physical space and

– share ownership of the same problem

you need both for operational proximity to occur.

Operational proximity introduces different points of view to a problem.  This “differentiation” happens easily in organisations because they form themselves into informal social groups (cliques??)

Differentiation happens when different groups have “Cognitive Separation” (Lorch) – i.e. a different point of view on the problem.

See Tagliaventi and Mattarelli (2006) – Human Relations J.

A barrier to operational proximity is “cognitive separation”

Communities of practice

23 March 2009

Derek Thomson

A “community of practice” has a shared social process.  The identity of the community is built around what is shared – a conception, an informal process, etc.

Source ??? of “communities of practice” = Etienne Wenger 1998

Weak ties

23 March 2009

Derek Thomson

Innovations are stimulated / useful / likely ??? when they spread between communities of practice.

Without weak ties, there is no real diffusion of innovation – formal processes/structures arent relevant.

A community of practice may stagnate “turning core competencies into core rigidities” — phon: “selly-brown and doogan” – “innovation and use of VLEs”