Social network stimulation

Jump to navigation Jump to search

List of methods / Design and innovation

Social Network Stimulation (SNS) aims to intervene in an organisation in such a way as to reduce years of casual acquaintance into months or weeks. SNS replicates how social relationships form, but telescopes the time down to do this and as a result reduces degrees of separation.

It does this in a novel way while addressing other organisational issues and challenges. As these issues are addressed a denser social fabric across silos forms, which leads to significant improvements in overall organizational effectiveness. When a person joins a large organization, how long does it take until he or she is this well connected? Years? What if you could condense that time into weeks or months? At a personal level, what impact would this have on their role and their productivity? At an organisational level, how would that beneficially impact the organisation?

Successful people in an organisation are almost always well connected; they are within a few connections of most people in an organisation, especially those who are critical to what they do. This typically occurs as people spend time together, through work projects, teams and often augmented by social activities. Over time as people migrate from one job to the next, they accumulate a collection of residual relationships. The experience of these relationships are inherently based on trust and reciprocity. They build social capital that ebbs and flows across the organisation to its benefit.

Name and history

The original approach was developed in the earlier 2000. The approach can be run in a workshop, in compressed time, over 2-3 months, or as a continuous process. The key is to have an intractable (wicked problem) problem as the challenge. The groups should self-form but you can put some constraints in place (enabling constraints) such as you must engage with a maximum of one person you've worked with before.


Snowden (2005) explores the issues related to SNA (Social Network Analysis) and outlines methods for address some of the existing issues. These are based on abstraction through the use of identities and archetypes.

Proposes an approach SNS (Social Network Stimulation) establish the conditions for the formation of informal networks ... with 3 degrees of separation it means that you will know someone, who in turn will know someone and that person will know someone who can help or advise you with an issue.

Community Type Size
Crisis 5
Informal 15
Expert 150
Formal Not relevant

Based on the type of community and the degree of separation this is the number of people who are available to you. You can see that for most organisations a degree of separation no more than 3 is needed and for a smaller organisation a degree of separation of 2 may be all that is needed.

Separation Informal Expert
1 15 150
2 225 22500
3 3375 3375000

Prior knowledge

No prior knowledge of the approach is needed


You need to consider what will be the reward(s) if you are running this as a competition. Really this should be something that you can not buy.


English text with any general instructions to be given at the start

For a minor method the table may be omitted

Identity a suitable intractable problem or problems and a suitable patronage-based reward or rewards By patronage we mean a reward that could not be brought
Establish the rules for the formation of the teams and the time related to the activity. Teams should be larger than 15 Some modeling may be needed and where you are looking group ensure the percentages are not 50/50
Initiate the formation of the teams based on the rules that have been established and published The core team of 2-3 may form quickly and then some assistance may be needed via techniques such as speed dating
Let the programme run for the designated period Note there should need to be no element of judgment in the determination of success. You either address the problem or the team didn't

Do's and Don'ts

Make sure that you use intractable problems to ensure that there is no judgment involved in the determination of success

Virtual running


Add the link to the article on six degrees of separation


  • The Hidden Power of Social Networks: Understanding How Work Really Gets Done in Organizations, Robert L. Cross, Andrew Parker. 2004