When is a company greater than the sum of its parts? When its once-siloed business units find a way to harvest innovations in the white space between them (Robert Cox).
If you talk to anyone about social networks inside their company, I bet they immediately imagine staff wasting company time on Facebook. But look beyond the internet, and the technical, and all businesses are driven by old-fashioned social networks.
Writing for the Telegraph, Madeline Bennett explores how encouraging social networks can be beneficial for your business by removing the silos between departments and encouraging collaboration and communication.
Understanding what social groups already exist is a good first step. Then you need to get into the social networks you've discovered, particularly the informal ones, and work out the ways of making them work harder for you.
"Research shows that appropriate connectivity in well-managed networks within organisations can have a substantial impact on performance, learning, and innovation."
If you can shape the social networks that already exist into meaningful formal groups and include your sales and marketing teams, bringing together people who would never usually collaborate, you may just open up new possibilities for your business.
Informal networks and, in particular, specific people, tend to break through these walls, benefiting you company. It's the coming together of different expertise that can change how you do things and can even help you find new areas to expand into.