Social Capital: using ONA to unleash potential across an organizationmichael arena condensed
Michael Arena PhD
Chief Talent Officer
using ONA to
Shifting from Human to Social Capital
Source: CEB, CLC Human Resources, High Performance Survey
Percentage of Employees
% Change in Profit by Percentage of Enterprise Contribution N=23,339
0% 100%75%25% 50%
Far Exceeds Promoted Departed
Understanding Social Capital makes a Difference
Burt and Ronchi, “Teaching executives to see social capital: results from a field experiment," Social Science Research (2007).
underwent training in
social capital were:
• 35% more likely to be
evaluated as far
…than peers in a
matched control group
• 43% more likely to be
• 42% more likely to stay
by up to
by up to
Early access to novel ideas, wider
access to diverse information, and
control over diffusion. More likely
to be in top 20% of high
performers within organizations.
Ideas within cohesive sub-groups
are more likely to be socialized,
developed and adopted locally.
However, ideas are 43% more
likely to be dismissed by others.
Energizers are 4Xs more likely to
influence within and across sub-
groups. They are also more likely
to get ideas noticed and their
reputation spreads quickly.
Cohesion increase: 30%
Series of in-team Experiments
all Center Study: Improvements
Cohesion matters; productivity (r = 0.61)
Pentland, S. (2009), Honest Signals
As much as 70-80% of our
ability to influence is a result
of face-2-face exchanges
"Anything amazing presumes the courage
to explore the edge”
• Discovery happens on the edge at the
intersection of networks
• Brokers challenge the network to think big by
discovering new information, insights, and
• Scientists have long marveled at how life
emerges on the edge where the sea thrust
upon the shore, or the tidal pools. A diverse
set of life forms from mussels, to sea stars, to
crabs and anemones lurk in beds of kelp and
• The same is true for organizations
• Ideas alone are cheap, often discovered
and tossed aside. The true value of an idea
can only be realized though successful
• The natural propensity secure leadership
support. This rarely works, most leaders
• A better strategy, find a friend.
• Socialization with a friend provides an initial
gut check on the surface merit of idea.
• Local, cooperative interactions are over 50%
more likely to have creative ideas as a
result of positive emotions.
• The best way to spread ideas across the
network is to follow the energy.
• Organizations aren’t ready for all ideas. The
level of energy around a given solution
• With adaptive solutions, energy is
everything, and great innovators know how
to sense it, leverage it and follow it!
• As individuals migrate towards a solution, it
can grow into a movement, generating
interests from others.
• Energizers provide a 4X lift on new solutions
• Not all energy is positive, quite often the
initial response to a new idea is conflict.
• New ideas are disruptive to the status quo
and are often met with resistance. They
compete against other priorities and
• This conflict needs to be embraced. For a
solution to be broadly successful, it must
develop organizational fitness, or be
meaningful for the larger network.
• The fitness of an original idea can only be
enhanced with a useful response to conflict.
Conflict therefore is essential to adaptation.
• Proximity is fundamental to creating and
maintaining momentum across a network.
• If individuals aren't talking about the idea it
can’t gain momentum.
• Energy generates buzz across a network so
that ideas and concepts can quickly spread.
If the network is too broad, too early, these
same ideas can dissipate quickly.
• In general, on-going face-to-face interactions
are critical to generating network buzz and
creating an “eco effect” around innovative
solutions. Serendipity maters.