Networking doesn’t always work

With collaborators at MIT (first author is Yves-Alexandre de Montjoye) we have just published a paper in Scientific Reports, The Strength of the Strongest Ties in Collaborative Problem Solving.

The paper shows that networking (in the sense of building a larger network of weak ties) does not improve team performance under some circumstances. We showed that for teams of knowledge workers in a competitive environment, the strongest ties (best friends or people you spend a lot of time with) explain much of the team performance in our statistical model.

Said differently, a team’s strongest ties are the best predictor of how the team will perform. They predict performance better than any other factors we looked at such as the technical abilities of its members, how knowledgeable they are about the topic at hand, and even their personality. In fact, once you account for a team’s strongest ties none of these other factors matters.

A neat infographic (created by Yves) explains the main findings and shows some of the key plots.