One measure of a company’s IQ is its network intelligence. In this video, learn how to maximize the resources of your current and former employees.
- So I want you to think about the last tough challenge you faced at work. What was the first thing you did to find a solution to that problem? I've talked to a lot of audiences around the world, and usually the answers they give me are, well, I Googled it, or I grabbed some of my colleagues and asked them, what do you think? And those are great ways to start, but they're no longer sufficient. In fact, what you really should do in that situation is figure out how to tap what we call Network Intelligence, that is to say, the collective information and knowledge in the networks of all your employees and people.
The reason is, no matter how amazing your company, no matter how many brilliant people you've recruited, there are more smart people outside your company than inside it. In the network age, how you're able to reach out and tap that information that sits outside the walls of your company is a key competitive differentiation. - And so one of the key things you want to do is actually build a set of network relationships through all the individuals, 'cause these relationships happen through individuals that then collectively benefit the company.
And you can do this both by the programs that you do within the company, and you can do this by the programs that essentially, when employees go get jobs other places, and you've maintained a healthy active relationship. I first learned this at PayPal when I was an executive there and one of the key things that I was trying to figure out was what was gonna happen with eBay, which was the major platform that PayPal was deploying payments on, and there were all kinds of issues here.
Was eBay gonna further compete with us, were they gonna shut us down? How was our policy gonna evolve? Were we gonna be able to collaborate together? eBay owned a competitor to PayPal called Billpoint, so clearly they wanted to win this space. I realized that the most reliable point of information was what is actually the mindset? It's not secret information, it's not confidential information, but how do, for example, the management and the culture of eBay think about PayPal? How do they think about the payment space? What kinds of things were they thinking was the variables in order to win? And so for example, one of the things I learned through talking to people who had talked to people at eBay or had friends at eBay was that what they thought was essential was banking relationships, and that they thought the battlefield between Billpoint and PayPal was banking.
This was critical information, because we actually thought differently, we thought actually in fact banks had risk models that moved too slowly, that they wouldn't be able to onboard new customers effectively, and so that gave us confidence in our strategy, to say, what we're going to do is we're going to really deploy sellers getting up to speed on PayPal very fast, and in order to essentially onboard a lot of people, and then by doing that, get to a network effect. And that was critical for how PayPal beat Billpoint.
Once we started doing that, I began to realize that I wanted to actually have all of the employees in my group start to realize that they should be contributing network intelligence to the things that we were trying to do. And so for example, I said, look, any time that any of you guys take out somebody and you're actually talking about a useful piece of information, you can expense your lunch. And the requirement for that expensing was to essentially report back a key component of information that you think could help PayPal.
It could simply be confirming the point of view of the world, but with additional information, it could be a risk factor, it could be someone we should talk to that would help us, possibly with a partnership, possibly with additional information, but it was perfectly okay for you to go be building your individual relationships, not necessarily only when you're selling, not only when you're hiring, but just building relationships. When that relationship brings network intelligence back to the company, and helps the company do better. The other thing is, is once your employee who has been working with you has left, if you've maintained a healthy relationship, a good relationship, part of what you want to maintain is an ongoing relationship with them such that something that they see that is valuable can report back to you.
Frequently managers say, oh great, you've worked here, so you have that obligation anyway, you should do that. But actually, you have to invest in the relationship both directions, you have to be saying, look, we care about you. Do we give you an employee discount or some discount on product services, do we give you information, do we host events? All of those things, a relationship is a two-way street, so you say, in order for them to continue contributing, you should contribute to them as well, and we run a number of these programs here at LinkedIn.
Reid and Chris share specific insights from their own experiences with companies like PayPal, Kapost, and LinkedIn, and more.
- Defining a rotational, transformational, or foundational tour of duty
- How to identify each employee's values and aspirations
- Aligning employee, manager, and company goals
- Establishing and leveraging alumni networks