Two simple ways to productivity

If I say Social Capital, does it make you nod agreeingly or do you lift your left eyebrow and frown with your forehead?

In a recent article by Margaret Heffernan on TED.com she outlines the importance of building social capital in organisations.

It’s the mortar, not just the bricks, that makes a building robust. The mortar, in this context, is social capital: mutual reliance, an underlying sense of connectedness that builds trust.

The idea of Social Capital was invented when people studied how stress impacts communities. How communities survive and how they flourish when in stress. A study which can be easily translated into organizations where we constantly face change. The same result applies at work as in communities:

Social connectedness plays a critical role in making individuals and companies more resilient, better able to do conflict well.

This simply means that if you manage to build a high amount of social capital in your organisation, you’ll have more creative dialogues, higher trust amongst people and therefore more productivity. As people start trusting each other, imagine that they rather start talking to each other instead of dropping emails. Replacing 10 emails of misunderstandings with 3 minutes of talking while holding a coffee cup instead of a mouse..

..or as we call it in Sweden: Fika.

Productivity Hack 1: Fika

We Swedes have actually constructed this new word “Fika” to help us get together and talk. A Fika is normally a 15 minute break with a cup of coffee or a tea accompanied with a small cake or yummie Kanelbulle. We get together in the Fika-room and talk about work or personal stuff. Employees, bosses — we’re all there. Swedish researcher Terry Hartig calls this “collective restoration,” arguing that the synchronicity is what gives the time its social and business value.

Heffernan continues:

Some companies now ban coffee cups at desks, not to protect computers, but to ensure that people hang out together around the coffee machine. ASE Global won’t let employees eat lunch at their desks. In part, this is to ensure that everybody takes a break. But both policies create the opportunity for people to know one another.

This is a pretty good deal, not only for increasing the feeling of togetherness but also getting off the computer and releasing stress.

Productivity Hack 2 : Draw it

Another useful way of increasing social capital is to become more creative and clear at meetings or presentations. Instead of spending 2 days preparing a PowerPoint presentation by yourself — Draw out your highlights. Either do it yourself or have a Live Scriber facilitate the meeting or presentation. And let people participate in the drawing.

Or instead of having one person summarize the meeting minutes on a word document, beautifully draw the points on a big paper or whiteboard that everyone can follow and later easily look back at.

This way people feel that they are part of the development. They are now active collaborators instead of a passive audience.

The more you help groups work together, the more social capital you build. Which in turn leads to a more sustainable work environment and more benefits.

Or as Margaret Heffernan puts it:

Trust, helpfulness, practice and courage become the simple renewables that power our working lives.

/Mina Legnered — Founder Simply Draw it Big

Learn more: www.simplydrawitbig.com