When a company is sinking, everyone knows, and everyone gets scared. They look to others for support and start agreeing with each other’s concerns.
These were the findings of the research paper “Understanding Communication Network Cohesiveness During Organizational Crisis: Effects of Clique and Transivity” by Shahadat Uddin, Shahriar Hasan Murshed, and Liaquat Hossain of The University of Sydney.
The team from Sydney base their knowledge of crisis behavior within an organization by scanning all the emails passed around at Enron, just before the company collapsed. Looking back, the emails showed people forming cliques, as people felt safety in numbers, and their communications became more transitive meaning people were more apt and eager to agree with each other.
To avoid being the next Enron, Uddin recommends organizations track the behavior of emails over time and compare it to previous months or the same month in the previous year. If they notice that there’s more transitive and cliquish behavior then it could be a sign of impending doom.
When I realized that I could download the OPML file from the Power 150 site and then hack it around into a contact list of over 900 of the top advertising, marketing, PR, and SEO bloggers on the planet, I did so.
Ever since, I have been scheduling calls with all of the folks I have been admiring on a daily basis. Two days ago I spent an hour on the horn with Lee Hopkins, “one of Australia’s leading thinkers on communication strategy in an online environment,” who is, in fact, one of the World’s leading thinkers on communication strategy in an online environment. We had a great chat — and amazing talk!