Burgeoning Connections Produce Relational Commodities

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I’ve been perpetually on the move the last six weeks, travelling widely. Was interviewed by a Croatian TV station after speaking at a leadership conference in Zagreb, supported faculty and taught at the African Leadership Academy in Joburg once again, facilitated a 2.5 day offsite for Merck’s Strategy Office in NJ, met with the VP of RD for Heinz Europe in Amsterdam, spoke yesterday on “Managing Connections to Optimize Innovation” at Alcatel-Lucent’s Bell Labs sponsored by the A-L Technical Academy – all exciting and worthwhile!

I have made up-dates in Linkedin, posted comments on Facebook, and even launched some “tweets” into cyberspace. Many engaging conversations and new connections along the way. But, I have not been writing substantially as was my intention, including entries on this blog. What I notice is that yesterday it took only two comments from trusted individuals with whom I have a relationship to draw my attention to both my desire and need to write. They did not scold, chastise, or do anything to “guilt” me. They simply drew me back to my Self.

At Bell Labs I spoke about how connections are fundamentally transactional. When I need a piece of information, a skill, or some advice, I know where to go and how to access it readily. There is an exchange that requires little or no commitment, other than perhaps implied or explicit compensation for value received. A relationship, on the other hand, requires shared values, a measure of mutual commitment, and underlying trust.

Reuters News reported last week on how the business use of Twitter, Facebook, and other social media is exploding. “Just last month… an Internet monitoring firm reported that visits to Twitter, the fourth most popular social networking site, increased by 1,170% in September compared to the year-earlier period. “ This “explosion” is re-aligning our attention, producing relational commodities but not relationships.

I want to be “connected”, most of all to myself! Thanks to Barb and Gordon, each of whom, in their own way, reminded me of that yesterday!

  • Mark Solien

    Aloha Steve,

    I'm glad you are back on your blog. I do enjoy reading your insightful work. It is always the beginning of my day.

    Mark

  • Steve, your commentary is very thoughtful – thanks. It interests me that you see connections and relationships as either/or. I've been conceptualizing similar observations as a continuum, running from loose ties to close relationships, because it is closer to my experience and seems to elicit a greater feeling of possibility.