Interesting research shows that all the time you’re spending on Twitter may not be a complete waste – but only if you’ve cultivated a truly diverse network of people to follow.
Three researchers, Salvatore Parise, from Babson College in Massachusetts, Eoin Whelan from the J.E. Cairnes School of Business & Economics at the National University of Ireland, and Steve Todd, a vice president of strategy and innovation at EMC Corporation, published the results of a five-year research program designed to better understand the role that tech-based networks played on employee innovation.
They focused on Twitter, which is public and filled with widely divergent voices, and studied ten employee groups across five companies in different industries.
Bottom line? There’s a world of inspiration out there if you look. “[T]he ideas of Twitter users were rated significantly more positively by other employees and experts than the ideas of non-users. Raters could only see the ideas themselves, not who submitted them.”
The tips from the participants on becoming a better “idea scout”:
- Follow people whose point of view is unfamiliar or which challenges your own. Consider a 70/30 rule – follow 70% of people who are directly relevant to your work, and 30% of people who work and think outside your comfort zone.
- Choose experts who are social, willing to share and engage in real conversation with others, not just blasting their own points of view.
- Cull: As your own points of view evolve and you find yourself thinking more like your expert squad, add new voices into the mix.
- Don’t be shy! Ask questions and share your thoughts, and be generous with your retweets. In addition to making your Twitter feed lively, it can help you make real-life relationships with interesting people.
- Develop a strategy to share the content you discover with your colleagues, to connect them with the ideas you’re gathering.
My addition to this list: Seek out experts from different races, ethnicities, orientations and from different parts of the world to follow, and consider consciously diversifying your Facebook and LinkedIn feeds as well.
But following cool people isn’t enough. It turns out that the ability to find, identify, understand and repurpose novel ideas is the key to unlocking innovation at work – a development prompt for smart leaders.
From the research:
|Twitter is the place where people talk about race|
|New research published by the Pew Research Center found that people shared thoughts and information specifically about race no fewer than 1.5 million times per day, usually more. “We can now see big cultural conversations taking place in ways that we couldn’t have seen when we only had them at the water cooler at the office or over the backyard fence or at coffeehouses,” Lee Rainie, director of internet, science and technology research at Pew told the New York Times.|
|New York Times|
|Univision among at least two bidders for Gawker Media|
|Univision, the Spanish-language television and news organization, formally submitted a bid for bankrupt Gawker Media yesterday. There had been speculation that Univision had been interested in media site last year, but abandoned their plans to invest after Gawker filed for bankruptcy in June after losing an invasion of privacy lawsuit to former wrestler Hulk Hogan. A court-supervised auction for Gawker’s seven online properties begins today.|
|Justice Department to require bias training for officers and prosecutors|
|Last week’s Justice Department report on the Baltimore Police Department uncovered many egregious examples of racial bias, and the two entities have agreed to discuss specific remedies, including anti-bias training. But the Justice Department has decided to walk the talk, by requiring all their own law enforcement and prosecutorial personnel to undergo implicit bias training as well.|
|New rule mandates equal access to bathrooms for transgender people|
|A new regulation that will appear in the Federal Register this week, states transgender employees and visitors must have access to bathroom facilities that are consistent with their gender identity in some 9,200 federal facilities. There are more than 1 million federal civilian workers, though the mandate covers anyone who visits any federal building.|
|Comedy Central’s ‘Nightly Show’ cancelled, in an ‘unblackening’ of TV|
|Larry Wilmore’s Comedy Central series The Nightly Show has been cancelled, ending the two season run of the show that dedicated itself to underrepresented points of view about race. Among the issues: Weak ratings. “I’m also saddened and surprised we won’t be covering this crazy election, or ‘The Unblackening’ as we’ve coined it,” said Wilmore. “I guess I hadn’t counted on ‘The Unblackening’ happening to my time slot as well.”|
|New film tells the story of black women who helped win the space race|
|Three overlooked black women scientists who helped get astronaut John Glenn safely back to earth are getting their due on film. Hidden Figures tells the story of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn and Mary Jackson, who broke both color and gender barriers at NASA in the 1960s – a time when women worked separately from men and when black scientists were segregated and referred to as “colored computers.” It was Johnson’s calculations that made Glenn’s return trip possible.|
The Woke Leader
|Young, rich and Chinese: A generational divide widens|
|The generation of young Chinese people born in the aftermath of China’s “economic miracle” are incredibly rich, incredibly flashy, and incredibly conflicted about enjoying life in America amid the harsh judgments they receive from their elders. They are the fuerdai, or the sons of the wealthy class. “For many in China, the fuerdai symbolize the values lost in the modernizing country’s mad dash for economic growth — diligence, humility and restraint.” A fascinating read.|
|A conversation with novelist Colson Whitehead|
|Whitehead has vaulted into public view after Oprah tapped his latest novel, The Underground Railroad, for her newly revitalized book club. (The book had to be rushed into print.) The story is about slave Cora’s journey from a cruel Georgia plantation through states that are actually “’states of possibility’ portending America’s fractured racial history,” says culture writer Boris Kachka. Whitehead talks Oprah, slavery, novels and Ferguson in this fascinating conversation.|
|When work tests your sobriety|
|For anyone who is newly sober, boozy work functions – still a staple of modern corporate life – can be a test for the ages. This poignant and funny essay takes on the culture of drinking, how hard it is to stay healthy, and the hard, cold realization that you’re surrounded by misogynistic jerks at work. When you turn yourself into the minority, the transition can be sobering.|