inkwell.vue.208 : Art Kleiner: Who Really Matters? The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege and Succes
permalink #0 of 107: Bruce Umbaugh (bumbaugh) Wed 25 Feb 04 19:53
    
When organizations fail, leaders are often blamed for being inept,
overwhelmed, or corrupt. But what if these organizations are only
doing
what they’re supposed to do? What if every decision is driven by the
perceived wants and needs of a Core Group of people "who really
matter"? That’s the question addressed by Art Kleiner in his book Who
Really Matters: The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege and Success
(Doubleday, 2003).

Though Art hasn’t been active on the Well in several years (actually,
when his first child was born, something had to give) he helped to
found it (he has a bit part in Katie Hafner’s history). He was, at the
time, the telecommunications editor of the Whole Earth Software
Catalog
and an editor of CoEvolution Quarterly (forerunner to Whole Earth). He
first wrote about the internet (or, rather, its precursors) in 1979,
as a graduate student in journalism at UC Berkeley (that article was
published eventually in the Whole Earth Catalog). Later on, he covered
Silicon Valley for the San Francisco Bay Guardian, and upon moving to
New York in 1986, he joined the Interactive Telecommunications Program
at New York University, where he still teaches scenario planning and
writing. His website is reachable through http://www.well.com/user/art
or  http://www.artkleiner.com.

Starting in the late 1980s, Art began writing mostly about management.
His books on the subject include business bestsellers (The Fifth
Discipline Fieldbook series with Peter Senge), and critically
acclaimed
histories (The Age of Heretics, 1996). His column, "Culture and
Change," appears in Strategy & Business. At MIT’s Center for
Organizational Learning, Art co-created a pioneering form of
organizational story-telling, the "Learning History." He’s also had an
ongoing career as a ghostwriter, working with (among others) Peter
Schwartz ("The Art of the Long View"/"Inevitable Surprises"), Arie de
Geus ("The Living Company") and Kenichi Ohmae ("The Invisible
Continent.") And he is the research and publications director of
Dialogos, an innovative consulting firm based in Cambridge, MA.

Who Really Matters has been praised by Jim Collins (author of the
bestseller Good to Great) as a "central truth about the way
organizations work," and by Harvard Business School historian Alfred
D.
Chandler, Jr. as "a critical way of understanding success and
failure." In a book club mailing to Global Business Network, poet and
educator Betty Sue Flowers wrote: "If Machiavelli had looked at
organizations rather than princes, he might have written this book.
And
if Freud had looked at management rather than the psyche, he might
have uncovered, as this book does, how power really works."

Art and his wife, experimental psychologist Faith Florer, have three
daughters – Frances, Elizabeth, and Constance, ages 5, 3 and 1. And
two
dogs. They live outside New York City, in a James Thurber-esque (or
perhaps Jon Katz-esque) neighborhood: a somewhat rundown
early-suburban
house, perennially under construction, scowling to the world, soft on
the inside.


Joe Flower leads the conversation here. He is a futurist specializing
in healthcare. Like Art, he has been associated with the Global
Business Network, co-authoring "China’s Futures" with Jay Ogilvy and
Peter Schwartz in the late 1990s. He is the founder of Imagine What
If…, an education company and a frequent speaker on healthcare,
technology, the future, and the nature of organizational change.

For over 20 years, Joe has interviewed the leading thinkers on
organizations and how they work, including Jim Collins, Peter Senge,
and Peter Drucker – and Art, on a previous occasion – for healthcare
industry journals.

Welcome to the Inkwell, both of you!
  
inkwell.vue.208 : Art Kleiner: Who Really Matters? The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege and Succes
permalink #1 of 107: Joe Flower (bbear) Thu 26 Feb 04 16:12
    
Great. This is a fascinating book -- it takes an "Oh, duh!" and turns
it into a major insight and tool of analysis. I remember my first job,
in (I think) 1969, for Lockheed. What I got very quickly was that the
whole purpose of the job was to keep certain bigwigs happy -- but
exactly who they were, how they got to be there, and what exactly would
keep them happy was this huge mystery, and the subject of endless
study and speculation.

Everyone knows this about organizations. But when it comes to
management writing, nobody admits it. Now Art has gone and built his
whole theory about it.

So, Art: It's clear that the Core Group (the people Who Really Matter)
is not synonymous with upper management, or key investors, or the
board. Whether you are inside an organization or outside it, how can
you tell who really is in the Core Group, and who is not?
  
inkwell.vue.208 : Art Kleiner: Who Really Matters? The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege and Succes
permalink #2 of 107: Art Kleiner (art) Thu 26 Feb 04 18:43
    
Joe, I'm so pleased to be doing this interview.... I don't want to
open with treacle-y effusiveness, so I'll confine myself to that
opening... and let the effusiveness trickle in as we go....  In any
case, thank you for the compliments. 

The Core Group is a cognitive construct. By which I mean that all the
people who work for an organization decide, collectively, who the Core
Group is. 

That definition has led at least one critic (on Amazon.com) to argue
that the whole "Core Group" concept is circular, and essentially
without substance, but I personally believe perceptions run the world.
The Core Group is the group of people that a prevailing number of
people believe to be important. That belief, in turn, determines who
actually IS important. 

So how do you find out who's in the Core Group? You ask people.
Preferably a large enough sample to get an aggregate impression. 

I've tried that exercise (and, in fact, I'd love to keep trying it)
with people who work in different parts of the same large organization,
and I've been impressed with the fact that they tend to agree. On a
flip chart page, we mock up an organization chart, the formal kind --
and then we color in those positions where Core Group members reside.
And then we draw the links between them. And then on another chart we
look at how those individuals' status has changed over time. 

It has turned out, in the times I've tried it, to be an unexpectedly
revealing map of the patterns of prevailing influence; it tends to show
the reasons why certain things happen or don't happen. I did it with
four people from a high-tech midwest company not long ago, and it
charted the rise of a small group of engineers who, by virtue of their
ability to stay in the Core Group through a set of turbulent
executive-suite coups and upheavals, ended up virtually running the
company.

I recommend doing this quietly, with circumspection. The point isn't
to challenge the organization, but to learn more about it.   
  
inkwell.vue.208 : Art Kleiner: Who Really Matters? The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege and Succes
permalink #3 of 107: Joe Flower (bbear) Thu 26 Feb 04 19:31
    
I was struck by what you said at one point: "They aren't all the
decision-makers; they are all the people the decision-makers keep in
mind." That is, when deciding anything, the people in the organization,
consciously or not, will be thinking, "What will Frank think of this?"
or, "I don't want Kathy walking in my door fuming over this."

It is an important definition. But what makes it useful?
  
inkwell.vue.208 : Art Kleiner: Who Really Matters? The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege and Succes
permalink #4 of 107: Art Kleiner (art) Fri 27 Feb 04 06:26
    
First of all, it lays a stake in the ground: EVERYONE's decisions are
important. In other words, Frederick Taylor was precisely wrong. The
senior people may know better, but the direction of the organization
depends on how well people throughout the organization take that
"better" knowledge, assimilate it, and use it. 

Do I have to defend that position? It isn't a slam-dunk.  And a lot of
people who talk as if they agree with it actually don't -- when push
comes to shove, you can see they don't believe it. 

But what they get, then, is ignorant -- or, if you prefer,
"sub-optimal" -- organizations. 

But. If you think everyone's decisions are important, and if you see
the Core Group's perceived needs and priorities as the magnetic
direction that everyone's decisions point to (in aggregate, at least),
then there are at least four groups of people who can get (in my
opinion) a "so-what" out of this: 

1. Members of the Core Group (who have huge leverage over the future
of the organization, if not its present); 

2. Employees who are not (and probably never will be) in the Core
Group; 

3. People who take seriously the idea that the organization must
change for the better; 

4. People who want to influence the organization from the outside. 

Each of these has a different strategy to follow.  
  
inkwell.vue.208 : Art Kleiner: Who Really Matters? The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege and Succes
permalink #5 of 107: Joe Flower (bbear) Fri 27 Feb 04 18:44
    
Let's come back to those strategies in a moment. First, though, a
personal note: I was struck, reading the book, with the thought, "This
is why I have never been comfortable working in an organization: I have
never been in the Core Group anywhere. And I have never been
comfortable bending all my thoughts and actions to serve someone else's
perceived needs. This is an explanation of the shape of my whole
career trajectory."

Against that background, tell me about love.
  
inkwell.vue.208 : Art Kleiner: Who Really Matters? The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege and Succes
permalink #6 of 107: Art Kleiner (art) Fri 27 Feb 04 21:08
    
Whew. Joe, believe it or not, I never quite realized that particular
implication of this material before. 

Speaking of Core Groups, my three-year-old daughter just woke up. I'm
going to go up and put her back to bed, and come back and answer this
probably tomorrow. ArtK
  
inkwell.vue.208 : Art Kleiner: Who Really Matters? The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege and Succes
permalink #7 of 107: Get Shorty (esau) Sat 28 Feb 04 00:04
    
"Bending all my thoughts and actions to serve someone else's perceived
needs" is a rather extreme way to see working in an organization. A
dysfuntional one, perhaps, one in which you feel you feel that the
people you work for are only motivated by personal power and wealth or,
worse, you feel they are deeply incompetent.  

But in a well-functioning organization, the Core Group's perceived
needs and decisions are for the benefit of everyone in the company.

If you can understand (and believe in) the motivations of the Core
Group, it seems you could derive great happiness -- or at least a
decent wage and quiet satisfaction -- from helping them achieve their
goals. And if their decision are the right ones, you'll follow them up
as they gain prestige and influence.
  
inkwell.vue.208 : Art Kleiner: Who Really Matters? The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege and Succes
permalink #8 of 107: Art Kleiner (art) Sat 28 Feb 04 02:08
    
The part I  never realized before is this: 

Who Really Matters is, in a way, a defense of organizations. Much of
the book is right with you, Esau -- saying that, in a well-functioning
organization, you can have a highly fulfilled career whether you're in
the Core Group or not. 

(Of course, in the best organizations, everyone who works there is, in
a sense, part of the Core Group. But those are rare, because it takes
a lot of careful design to create them.)

What I didn't explicitly realize before is this: The extent to which
some people will NEVER feel comfortable with organizations, precisely
because they instinctively mistrust Core Group dynamics. They don't
like the way it looks in others, and they don't like the way it feels
in themselves. 

If the economy permits it, and they're capable enough, those are the
ones who become entrepreneurs. Their customers and clients become their
Core Group. Or perhaps just the customers and clients whom they
perceive as being important.

Unless you're not just independently wealthy but independent of
needing anything from the rest of humanity, I don't think you can
escape Core Group dynamics. 

That's a fairly bleak-sounding statement, but it isn't meant to be. 
Because I also think we have a fair amount of choice these days, even
in a relatively tight economy, about the Core Groups we can potentially
get involved with. 
  
inkwell.vue.208 : Art Kleiner: Who Really Matters? The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege and Succes
permalink #9 of 107: Art Kleiner (art) Sat 28 Feb 04 02:30
    <scribbled by art Sat 28 Feb 04 02:39>
  
inkwell.vue.208 : Art Kleiner: Who Really Matters? The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege and Succes
permalink #10 of 107: Art Kleiner (art) Sat 28 Feb 04 02:38
    
Joe, your question about love naturally leads me to write a little bit
about the idea that organizations are sentient creatures -- vast and
immature ones -- who fall in love. The Core Group are the people they
fall in love with. The organization acts as most of us do with our
beloveds, at least while we're infatuated with them: Trying to
anticipate their needs and wants, without directly asking; thinking
about them all the time; indulging them; and seeking to deepen our
connection with them. 

So for instance, ITT hired a publicist to buy up its CEO Rand
Araskog's remaindered books, but they didn't want him to suffer the
indignity of walking past the dollar-a-book table at the Strand in New
York and seeing his book there. (Is that a thoughtful, romantic
gesture, or what?) 

When an individual falls in love with you, that gives you a certain
amount of responsibility -- or, if you prefer, power and potential for
exploiting them. When an organization falls in love with you, the
potential for exploitation is immense. Especially unconscious
exploitation. And little exploitations get magnified tremendously. 

But so, as Esau points out, is the potential for accomplishing truly
worthy and remarkable things. 

There's an article in the current New York Magazine in which Naomi
Wolf describes her response to a 20-year-old sexual harassment by
Harold Bloom, formerly her professor. She names Bloom, and names
herself -- but she BLAMES Yale University. She's not pissed off at
Bloom; she's pissed off at the Core Group of the university, which is
apparently closing ranks to protect Bloom and other high-level
professors. 

Whether or not you think Wolf is being fair to either Bloom or Yale --
and my own opinion depends on knowing some facts about the story which
have already been disputed (like did Yale's officials respond to
Wolf's questions or didn't they?) -- there's pretty clearly a Core
Group love story operating here. It's a triangle: Wolf in love with
Yale, and Yale in love with Bloom. 

Here's Naomi Wolf’s article:
<http://www.newyorkmetro.com/nymetro/news/features/n_9932/>; 

And here’s a dissenting article in the New York Observer:
<http://www.observer.com/pages/frontpage4.asp>
  
inkwell.vue.208 : Art Kleiner: Who Really Matters? The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege and Succes
permalink #11 of 107: Dan Levy (danlevy) Sat 28 Feb 04 02:51
    

What did you find out when you asked people who were identified as being
in the Core Group whether they thought of themselves as being in the Core
Group?  I wonder whether the consensus opinions about who are members is
usually congruent with the self-assessments of those so-called insiders.

And...hi, Art!
  
inkwell.vue.208 : Art Kleiner: Who Really Matters? The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege and Succes
permalink #12 of 107: Art Kleiner (art) Sat 28 Feb 04 02:52
    
Conversely, for a couple of stories of really good Core Groups, check
out the current Fortune Magazine, March 8 issue, p. 190B: "Heroes of
Manufacturing," about American Axle and Manufacturing and Cognex Corp.
At least they sound like really good Core Groups, although they're
written in the "heroic CEO" vein. 

Here's the URL for that:
<http://www.fortune.com/fortune/imt/0,15704,592506,00.html>.
  
inkwell.vue.208 : Art Kleiner: Who Really Matters? The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege and Succes
permalink #13 of 107: Art Kleiner (art) Sat 28 Feb 04 02:58
    
Hi, Dan!

Um.... I never have quite gone up to someone and said, "Are you in the
Core Group or not?" 

What I have done is, in talks and sessions, asked: "How many people in
the room believe they are, or were, in a Core Group?" Typically about
1/4 to 1/3 of the people in the room might raise their hand. And their
stories are about finding out (sometimes to their surprise, sometimes
according to their plan) that the organization was catering to them in
some consistent way that was over the top....

I should add that, because the boundaries of the Core Group are set by
the aggregate of peoples' perception, they aren't rigid. People pop
into and out of the Core Group, and the Core Group of one part of an
organization can be different from the Core Group of another part. 

I think most people who have some Core Group status would recognize
themselves as having it. If you ask them, "Are you in the 'Core Group,'
they might say no." But if you say, "Do you have a presence in the
organization, so that people are continually aware of what's important
to you and they try to fulfill it," they'd answer yes. Sometimes,
"Hell, yes!"
  
inkwell.vue.208 : Art Kleiner: Who Really Matters? The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege and Succes
permalink #14 of 107: jane hirshfield (jh) Sat 28 Feb 04 10:02
    
Do you make any ethnological tie-ins in your thinking about this, Art? I'm
guessing that something similar goes on in its own way in primate
communities, wolf packs, etc. Perhaps the Core Group is the "real" pecking
order in an organization?
  
inkwell.vue.208 : Art Kleiner: Who Really Matters? The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege and Succes
permalink #15 of 107: Joe Flower (bbear) Sat 28 Feb 04 13:42
    
>they instinctively mistrust Core Group dynamics. They don't
>like the way it looks in others, and they don't like the way it feels
>in themselves

I'd say that's a fair description of my scattered interactions with
organizations over the years. Which is why I have been a freelancer for
so many years.

Now, however, I am starting my own companies. They are still small,
but already I can feel the charm of the fact that there are other
people waiting for my direction, and trying to figure out what would
please me, what would help my projects, and so forth. For the first
time, I have managed to be in a Core Group -- by creating it myself.
  
inkwell.vue.208 : Art Kleiner: Who Really Matters? The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege and Succes
permalink #16 of 107: Andrew Alden (alden) Sat 28 Feb 04 14:18
    
I've always wanted to matter in the companies I've been in. Never quite
happened. But I've spent half my working life outside companies, and until
now I've never asked how and whether I matter to myself.

Is a Core Group, somewhere, essential in everyone's life?
  
inkwell.vue.208 : Art Kleiner: Who Really Matters? The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege and Succes
permalink #17 of 107: Art Kleiner (art) Sun 29 Feb 04 03:10
    
Jane, I tried to look at sociobiological sources, and discovered I was
so much a babe in the woods (urk), in terms of being able to trust my
sources, that I ultimately decided not to pursue that analogy at all. 

Do wolves and dogs have Core Groups? Do chimpanzees? For that matter,
do human families and tribes? In my SPECIFIC meaning of Core Group--
thepeople whose interests you keep in mind when you make a decision --
the answer is, well, probably. I certainly see it in my daughters; my
middle daughter, Elizabeth, sometimes internalizes the interests of my
oldest daughter, Frances. "Is this your toy, Frances? Everyone leave
this alone, it's Frances' toy!" But that doesn't keep her from
squabbling when it's a toy she really wants. 

So if that's a kind of universal analogy for Core Group behavior, it
suggests that Core Group behavior is pretty weak. And it only picks up
strength because it gets amplified by the nature of the organization,
where people pick up Core Group signals from each other, and where
decisions tend to become aggregated together, so the Core Group
direction is the only common purpose that people really have. 
  
inkwell.vue.208 : Art Kleiner: Who Really Matters? The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege and Succes
permalink #18 of 107: Art Kleiner (art) Sun 29 Feb 04 03:12
    
Joe, I never really saw "Core Groups" as anything worth writing about
until I started my own little company -- and saw the difference between
people doing things for me (which they do in any organization if my
rank is appropriate) and people trying to anticipate my needs and
priorities (which was suddenly part of their job....)
  
inkwell.vue.208 : Art Kleiner: Who Really Matters? The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege and Succes
permalink #19 of 107: Art Kleiner (art) Sun 29 Feb 04 03:18
    
And then the question: Is a Core Group essential in everyone's life? 

In other words, if Core Groups didn't exist, would we have to invent
them? 

I came to believe that they are a natural human response to the
complexity of modern life -- perhaps the complexity of life in general.
In the same way that babies recognize faces before recognizing
anything else, we tend to think of complex decisions in terms of the
people around us. 

(I'm not sure that's universal, actually. I have noticed that there
are people whose first instinct is analytical, and they don't think of
complex decisions in terms of other people at all. But again, in
aggregate, the decisions add up to a reinforcement of the perceived
needs and priorities of some group of people in the system.)

I think there's a big difference between organizations and
communities/societies. And then I think there's another question that
can be asked of any individual: 

"Who is in YOUR Core Group?" 

And as a corollary: "Are you in your own Core Group?" 
    (and in my case, there's a lot of juice in the question:
       "HOW are you in your own Core Group?" 
  
inkwell.vue.208 : Art Kleiner: Who Really Matters? The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege and Succes
permalink #20 of 107: Gerry Feeney (gerry) Sun 29 Feb 04 11:10
    
Hello, Art.  Great discussion.

Are you familiar with Chester Barnard's notion of the "Informal
Organization?"  (I think it was in his 1938 book _The Functions of the
Executive_, but I'm not certain.)

If so, did that an influence your work on the Core Group Theory?
  
inkwell.vue.208 : Art Kleiner: Who Really Matters? The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege and Succes
permalink #21 of 107: from MARY ANN ALLISON (tnf) Sun 29 Feb 04 13:09
    


Mary Ann Allison writes:



On the topic of love, having been both inside and outside core groups, it
seems to me that--whether or not people would actually use this label--being
inside the core does feel like being loved.  I wonder if this feeling
increases confidence and the ability to perform?  A version of the Cinderella
affect?  And, the converse as well?  Does feeling "not loved" decrease
performance level?


Separately,

Art, have you investigated whether core groups have the topology of scale-
free, evolutionary networks which feature hubs (Barabasi's book, Linked, The
New Science of Networks)?  It seems to me they might.
  
inkwell.vue.208 : Art Kleiner: Who Really Matters? The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege and Succes
permalink #22 of 107: from L.P. PICCOLAPESCE (tnf) Sun 29 Feb 04 18:46
    


L.P. Piccolapesce writes:


Re Art's comment "I have noticed that there are people whose first instinct
is analytical, and they don't think of complex decisions in terms of other
people at all," though the analytical results will probably be put to the
service of the Core Group, Have you incorporated any of the Myers Briggs
typology into your considerations? This distinction suggests F (feeling) vs T
(thinking) response. And the dysfunctional catering to Core Group members you
describe in the book sounds as though F's would be more vulnerable to it.

I am also interested in the Core Group as constituting Ichak Adizes' locus of
"Influence," which must coalesce with "Power" and "Authority" to accomplish
anything. Or perhaps your point is that real Influence so affects the
motivation of power and authority that it is ascendant over them.

Wonderful conversation, and great/unexpectedly moving book!

L.P. Piccolapesce
  
inkwell.vue.208 : Art Kleiner: Who Really Matters? The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege and Succes
permalink #23 of 107: from RON BEAN (tnf) Sun 29 Feb 04 19:39
    



Ron Bean writes:


What I get from the book is that you don't have to be in the core
group, but you'll have a hard time if the core group's goals are
incompatible with your own goals. The problem is when the core
group sends mixed messages about what it's real goals are
(as opposed to what they think they're supposed to say).

In that case it may take several years to figure out that you're
wasting your time and you'd be better off working for someone
else [Don't Ask Me How I Know This]. This shouldn't have to be a
guessing game (unless they're deliberately trying to mislead
people, but despite Enron etc I don't think that's as common
as simple "failure to communicate").

>(Of course, in the best organizations, everyone who works there
>is, in a sense, part of the Core Group. But those are rare,
>because it takes a lot of careful design to create them.)

They're rare in terms of percentages, especially if you're only
looking at large organizations. But I think there may be quite a
lot of them in terms of absolute numbers, especially smaller
companies that don't call much attention to themselves (and don't
have outside shareholders).

All that "careful design" work is worth the effort, though.
I'd rather do things that are hard but effective, than easy but
ineffective. Apparently not everyone thinks that way...

>Because I also think we have a fair amount of choice these days,
>even in a relatively tight economy, about the Core Groups we can
>potentially get involved with.

Yes, if you know what you're looking for (it's not always obvious).
Then the hard part is finding them-- companies often talk about
what they'd like to be doing, rather than what they're actually
doing (stock analysts have this problem also). You need to get
them to tell detailed stories about themselves in the past tense
(preferably recent past).

All of this has nothing to do with what business they're in,
which is what the job-hunting gurus seem to concentrate on.

>"Who is in YOUR Core Group?"

Po Bronson asks "Who is in your inner circle?"
Meaning, who are you trying to impress?
(This is apparently a reference to an essay by CS Lewis).
  
inkwell.vue.208 : Art Kleiner: Who Really Matters? The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege and Succes
permalink #24 of 107: Art Kleiner (art) Mon 1 Mar 04 00:05
    
Re #20: I went to look up Barnard, expecting to find an antecedent to
the Core Group idea. He was an influence in the sense of being the
originator of a chain of thinking -- around the different ways in which
employees follow directives and the ways in which managers can manage
informality effectively. 

But his audience was the manager, trying to figure out how best to
deal with the complexities of employees. And I didn't find what I was
looking for when I read him, which was an explanation of why some
authority figures are legitimate and others are not. 

His successor as an AT&T-based management expert, Robert Greenleaf,
came closer with the idea of Servant Leadership. But Greenleaf was
talking about an ideal, and one that is only reached sporadically, I
think. 
  
inkwell.vue.208 : Art Kleiner: Who Really Matters? The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege and Succes
permalink #25 of 107: Art Kleiner (art) Mon 1 Mar 04 00:16
    
Mary Ann, re your two questions in #21: 

Does being "loved" by the organization increase performance? In some
people it does, I think. But I think in others, it detracts from
performance. How many people "beloved" by organizations essentially
spend their time cultivating that belovedness instead of actually
producing better results more effectively? 

Does being dismissed by the organization decrease performance? I'm
reluctant to say Yes, in any blanket way, just as I don't fully buy the
idea that being bullied produces low self-esteem which then leads to
low performance in life. I think different people respond in different
ways. 

To paraphrase Rex Stout, one could write an encyclopedia about the
behavior of people when maligned by their fellow human beings. Plus, 
being Out of the Core Group, in my experience, is not always a bad
thing. 

Your second question is on Network Theory, and I was definitely
influenced by Karen Stephenson, whose research into networks identifies
three key figures: Hubs, Gatekeepers, and Pulsetakers. I don't know
Barabasi's book well; I skimmed it and didn't find myself drawn in. Nor
do I think Hubs are necessarily Core Group members. Or Gatekeepers or
Pulsetakers, for that matter. (Hubs are people with lots of
connections, people through whom information flows; gatekeepers control
access to a critical function or part of the organization; and
pulsetakers are aware of the flows around them. They sort of correspond
to Malcolm Gladwell's "mavens" -- and "hubs" correspond to his
"connectors." 

The Core Group is definitely an informal group. But the real use of
network theory vis-a-vis Core Groups, I think, is in mapping and
understanding the links between the Core Group and the rest of the
organization. 

Most f the Social Network people gather their data by surveying or
observing people, and I think Core Group awareness could mesh well with
that... but so far, no one has done that kind of research. 
  

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