Kadushin (2012, Understanding Social Networks) speaks to formal organizations, as organizations in a box. Bound physically and culturally in modern tradition and hierarchy. However, what happens when these walls break down – physically, socially, and metaphorically? Will the title of this blog simply be … organizations are social networks?
This discussion has brought to mind the new “Lego” building on the UAlberta campus, the Edmonton Clinic Health Academy (ECHA). The vision of breaking down the walls of the healthcare disciplines on campus is truly exciting … a primary priority of the Edmonton Clinic Health Academy, both architecturally and philosophically, is to apply new tools and curricula designed to facilitate the continued cross-pollination of thinking. This way of working can lead to new ideas, better solutions and streams of research that may have never come to light working in isolation (University of Alberta: ECHA, 2012).
The metaphors that aim to direct this new collaborative venture of healthcare students, educators, and researchers include … free the best minds; explore faster, see further; cross-pollination of thinking; intersection of discipline. They emulate the affordances of social networks.
Will the ECHA artifact in its architecture and technological capabilities act as a bridge to embed social constructs of network theory, and allow the vision of a knowledge driven organization to metaphorically … free the best minds; explore faster, see further; cross-pollination of thinking; intersection of disciplines? According to Kadushin, density of interaction and brokerage of interaction will play an important role in realizing connections that otherwise would not exist. Further, will the physical and technical architectural artifacts facilitate propinquity among healthcare disciplines, and lower the transaction costs sufficiently that collaborative relationships flourish? Only time will tell … but is has been great to reflect on the changes within an organization that I am familiar with, from the lens of organizations as social networks. I will continue to watch the evolution of the ECHA and look at the interplay of the diverse healthcare disciplines and think … inside the box, outside the box or both?