Hundreds of Heads are Better than One

Last week we made the important distinction between Social Networking and Collaborative Networking in an attempt to assist you in deciphering which option is better for your organization.  This week I wanted to share an example of  a community using both.

The general rule of thumb for anyone seeking a diagnosis for any condition is to always seek a second opinion.  Well, now you can seek hundreds of opinions!  A number of ‘diagnostic’ medical sites have cropped up across the web, giving patients the opportunity to describe their symptoms to a network of medical professionals and seek diagnosis (This application would be considered social networking as it benefits the individual – see last post).

One such site “Doctors Lounge” not only provides visitors the opportunity to seek diagnosis from a large network of doctors, it also provides the health care professionals a space to collaborate on articles, projects and even patient care issues (This is collaborative networking – see last post).

The medical community seems to be leading the charge integrating Social and Collaborative networking into their practices.  This is an encouraging thought – I don’t know about you but if my doctor was having trouble with a diagnosis or treatment of mine I feel much more secure knowing that he/she has a network to collaborate with on solving this problem.  A diagnosis agreed upon by 100 doctors is by far more reassuring than one prescribed by a single physician.

The question is of course whether your doctor participates in these collaboratives?  It is likely that membership in medical networks will become a qualifier for selecting a family physician and perhaps even a licensing requirement………………………… I know I will be asking mine.

Social vs. Collaborative Networking – Distinctions Revealed

When you think of social networking you immediately think of Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, so what comes to mind when you think of collaborative networking?

If you are like most people I have asked this question your response was probably something like ‘aren’t they the same thing?’, and of course the answer would be no, they are not and the primary distinction between them is in the value that is created from each.

Social networks are characterized by one to one connection versus a collective gathering virtually in one space to work on a single project or problem as is the case with collaborative networks.  With the instance of the popular social networking site Facebook for example the value created is to the individual and the benefit of his/her connections.  On the other hand a collaborative network such as MindTouch allows groups of people to collaborate efficiently and effectively to produce results that add value to the enterprise or collective as a whole rather than the individual.

That isn’t to say that social networks can’t benefit your business but rather that they will do so through one to many advertising and one to one contacts rather than through collective decision making and problem solving.

So keep in mind when/if you are considering integrating a networking application into your business enterprise:  If you are looking for people (potential sales leads, recipients of advertising, potential future colleagues) go for a Social Network.  If you want to connect the disparate groups (departments, divisions etc) to collaborate to address issues and projects with tangible results go with a Collaborative Network.