“People have at their very fingertips, at the tips of their brains, tremendous amounts of tacit knowledge, which are not captured in our computer systems or on paper,” says Professor Stephenson. “Trust is the utility through which this knowledge flows.”
Bingo #1!! Information sharing slows to zero as trust degrades. This is critical to understand in any agile development effort. Agility requires that both customer and developer be able to share a lot of information. Without trust, such sharing is difficult to understand or implement.
Such social scientists as Francis Fukuyama, Mark Granovetter, and Robert Putnam have made strong cases that high-trust societies have an enormous competitive advantage over legalistic societies, in which suspicion of people is a cultural value, because the transaction costs go down. In high-trust organizations, transaction costs are similarly lower.
Bingo #2. Corporate cultures usually come down on either as legalistic or as trust-based. If your corporate culture is not trust-based, then agile methods are likely to be met with a great deal of resistance.
Now Social Network Analysis. This is a lot fuzzier. Prof. Stephenson is a prime mover behind NetForms International, which appears to provide tools and services related to Social Network Analysis. Now I can easily understand how such analysis might help visualize the eco-systems inside a company, it is not as clear to me how much help comes from techniques that require the kinds of commitments these do to form a static picture that is eroding from day one. I am not a big fan of static view in agile worlds, and doubt that trust is a static value:)