II.8 Building a Social Compass

Working remotely in the home office has been around for a long time for a small part of the workforce, however most recently the Covid19 pandemic has forced the majority of the workforce to work remotely from home. While some are energized by working in the privacy of the home office, using the quiet time at home to do productive work without being bothered by their colleagues, others respond with depression, feeling lonely and isolated. To help individuals navigate their emotional world to overcome isolation, loneliness, and stress by entangling virtually with others, we have developed a “Social Compass” combining all the pieces described in the previous sections. Just like Google Maps shows where somebody is in the physical world, where they can go, and where the bottlenecks and traffic jams are, the “Social Compass” helps individuals navigate the social landscape of their emotions and the emotions of others to become a member of a unified virtual team. It tells individuals how they see others, how others see them, and what they can do to be happier, and more collaborative and productive. The “Social Compass” connects knowledge workers in their home offices by creating Collaborative Innovation Networks or COINs. COINs are self-organizing teams of intrinsically motivated innovators, collaborating over the Internet to create new things.

Figure 60. Social Compass Components

In a workshop where I was recently presenting our approach, a participant asked if tools like the Social Compass would ensure that “HR knows you better than yourself”. The point is that the "Social Compass does the opposite, it helps you to know yourself better - without telling HR (except if you want to tell, see II.2.5).

The “Social Compass” shows the individual communication behavior to the individual. It is calculated based on an individual’s communication behavior, by analyzing an individual’s interaction with others through e-mail, social media, and individual body signals measured with a smartwatch. The Social Compass takes full care of individual privacy, by running on an individual smartphone, only aggregated anonymized data can be voluntarily shared with others on a server. Based on communication archives from online social media, e-mail, and body signals from a smartwatch, the honest signals of collaboration, the emotions, and digital virtual tribes are calculated using machine learning, in turn giving input for computing the FFI big five personality characteristics, Schwarz ethical values, and moral foundations. Comparing these AI-predicted values based on thousands of records with the survey-based self-assessment provides the user with a virtual mirror to compare her own view of self with the view others have about her personality, morals, and ethics. 

Figure 61. Impact of the Social Compass

The “Social Compass” is used to provide a “Virtual Mirror” to the users, as shown in Figure 61, helping individuals and organizations to measure and improve their level of entanglement. It starts by analyzing the communication logs of the people, and calculating interaction metrics such as “honest signals”, “emotions”, “tribes” and “ethics”. These metrics are calculated using machine learning for individuals, and shown to them in their virtual mirror. In particular, these metrics measure the “kindness” of the users by calculating their responsiveness, honesty, empowering of others, inclusiveness, caring, and fairness. At the same time, based on these metrics, their entanglement with others is measured using the entanglement metric. If the entanglement of users is low, their virtual mirror gives immediate suggestions how to change their behavior for increasing entanglement in their team. A well-entangled person is a happy person, and an entangled team is a high-functioning team.

Figure 62. Social Compass Smartphone Snapshots

The Social Compass might occasionally give you pain for later gain, making you suffer in the short term for your own good. It shows the areas where you are deficient, exposing your weaknesses, to change for the better. The crucial point is that this feedback is given only to you, in the privacy of your own smartphone, no other human being knows about it, only your smartphone. It shows how you can improve, how you can alter your behavior to achieve your goals, be it in your private life, or in your interaction with your colleagues at work.

Figure 63. IT Architecture of Social Compass

For instance, in an early test scenario we observed immediate behavioral change through using the Social Compass: Fred was part of a close-knit team of half a dozen software developers, that was working frantically to build a new product. Fred was doing his part writing code, but his communication style was very different from the rest of the team. While the other team members constantly interacted using online chat and responded within minutes to questions from others, Fred took multiple days to answer a question sent to him by e-mail. He usually only answered after multiple reminders, and rarely interacted with the rest of the team. His big awakening came when the Social Compass on his smartphone showed to Fred that he was totally peripheral to the team, while the rest of the team formed a close-knit highly entangled group. Fred was shocked. This shock got him to radically change his communication behavior, to reach out contacting others, and turn into a pro-active team member. 

This process of showing one’s own communication behavior to an individual in the privacy of their own smartphone or Web browser – we call this “virtual mirroring” – can thus lead to fundamental behavioral changes. 


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