What We Can Learn from Hollywood

An interesting meme that relates to the power of social networks is that the “Hollywood model” is an example of ad hoc formation of successful (relatively) short-term “community” for the purpose of creating a product (movie, TV show, play). Interesting lessons can be learned from the “independent contractor” lifestyle of all the individuals in the community who make their careers out of successive entry/exit cycles with these “communities.”

 hwood sign

I read this first recently in Howard Gardner’s 5 Minds for the Future (emphasis mine):

“…collaborations ‘Hollywood-style’; large numbers of persons, often unknown to one another, must come together over brief periods of time, make the necessary connections, and trust one another to complete the job efficiently and move on to the next assignment-be it making a movie sequel or advising another corporation.”

I also recently heard an interesting talk by Noshir Contractor, in which he categories the motivations of people in different kinds of these networks/communities, and how they change over time.

The area that I think is critical for Microsoft to grok, and get in front of, are these notions around identity and trust.

In Hollywood, your reputation is everything. For one segment of the team (actors), it is arguably more important than ability. Everyone, however, cares deeply about, and invests a lot of time in, managing their reputation. A lot of psychological problems of “Hollywood types” can be traced to a confusion on theit part between their reputation and their “psychological” identity.

Trust management flows from this. The more I know about you, the more I can find out about you, the better I can judge the level of trust I can extend to you. Likewise, if I live my life in the open to an extraordinary degree, I make it easier for you to decide the level of trust you want to extend to me.

I think “twitter-like” tools are an interesting development in the space around the “make the necessary connections” problem above. Blogs at Microsoft are one of the ways we try to address the “trust” issue.

Thoughts? Share your comments here.

Comments (1)

  1. Jeremy Hagan says:

    Meme?  You’ve been reading too much Gibson.

    Trust in colleagues and what you know about them is an interesting point I was just discussing with a colleague this morning.  I recently discovered a couple of things about a colleague that I wished that I hadn’t (both not work related).

    Now that I know these things I find that I don’t feel able to have the same level of professional trust in his a before even though he hasn’t made any changes to the way that he does his job.

    Is it wrong of me to generalise the things I have learned about him (all of which lead me to think he is more of a risk to trust) that aren’t work related into a higher level of potential risk that he may let me down professionally?

    If I didn’t have access to this information then I wouldn’t think that I have to adjust my level of trust, once again proving that ignorance is bliss.

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