I just stumbled across a study today from MIT that reports that it pays to be an information hub. Knowledge workers that take active part in a connected network were more productive than their less connected colleagues.
…A diverse network of contacts is associated with higher productivity.
While employees who constituted hubs in the firm’s information flow — in other words, people who were in the center of more e-mail flows — were more productive, those less-connected to the network suffered in productivity, on average. “The most productive people were the ones who were the information hubs,” Brynjolfsson noted. “We found that this reflected their ability to learn novel information more rapidly than their colleagues…
The study used e-mail networks to determine an individual workers level of “connectedness”.
This is one of those pieces of research that leaves me thinking about causality and commonality. The two are frequently confused and misinterpreted. Are people more productive because they are better connected? Or are they better connected because they are more productive?
The other interesting piece of information I gleaned from Professor Brynjolfsson’s conclusion was that better connected employees often had more tasks to do, and subsequently proved to be more adept at multitasking. Could this indicate that there is a relationship between task diversity and productivity?
Personally, I certainly feel like I am more effective at solving problems when I have more things going on… Perhaps the innate ability of the brain to recognize patterns allows for more creative and productive thought when confronted with more detail, more variables and more related information.
Maybe easily consumable, relevant, social information streams could enable productivity.
(Hey, that’s pretty much what Twitter is… can someone do that study so I can read it too?)
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