A few weeks ago Anne Hebard-Duduch shared her summer reading list suggestion; Get Big Things Done by 2015 Boston Financial Client Forum speaker Erica Dhawan. The topic of Connectional Intelligence piqued my interest and I wanted to see what it was all about…
I did what I usually do when a topic interests me; I went straight to Google. The first thing I found was, ironically, a talk Dhawan gave to Google employees earlier this year. I have to admit that she almost lost me when she brought up one of my least favorite buzz-words, millennials, but I quickly realized that her views on the subject line up with mine when at the beginning of her talk she stated “most of the characteristics we perceive as unique to millennials are not actually unique to millennials.”
Dhawan debunked some myths commonly associated with millennials. However, she recognized that there are things that are unique about the future work mindset that are manifested by millennials, but ultimately used by all generations in the workforce today. One of those things is Connectional Intelligence.
Dhawan defines Connectional Intelligence as “the ability to combine knowledge, ambition, and human capital, forcing connections on a global scale that create unprecedented value and meaning.” Connectional Intelligence is not a new concept. Groundbreakers from Marie Curie to Gandhi have used the principals of Connectional Intelligence to get big things done throughout history. But today the scale, depth, and breadth of our connection is radically different and it is changing the way we operate.
Dhawan shared a story about a leading New York law firm that saw something peculiar happening a few years ago. The millennial associates were billing less hours than ever before. This was concerning because they were giving them more work, not less, and law firms bill by the hours. When they dug deeper into it they found out that they had created their own Twitter network to quickly and efficiently help them solve cases. They used it to ask questions like “I need this legal citation, does anyone know where to find it?” or “Does anyone remember this case from law school?” The firm has since embraced a Twitter at work initiative and teaches associates of all ages how to use social business tools to solve problems.
Many companies are now using social business tools to increase their organization’s Connectional Intelligence. At Boston Financial we use The Hub as our primary communication and collaboration tool. Introducing this tool has added a level of efficiency to the way we work and it has helped us solve problems for clients quickly. This new way of working is not only embraced by the millennial workforce of our company, but by over 80% of employees. The future work mindset spans all generations within our company, reinforcing Dhawan’s point that it is important for senior leaders and emerging leaders to come together to solve problems.
After I finished watching Dhawan’s talk at Google I started to think about the other ways I might be able to use connectional intelligence in my work and personal life. Will I read her book now? Definitely. The book takes a deeper look into the fundamental capabilities of Connectional Intelligence, allows you to identify what kind of connector you are, and includes a number of case study stories. Additionally, if you are attending our Client Forum in a few weeks you will have the opportunity to hear Dhawan speak when she opens the event on September 21.