I wrote the first version of this diagram in 2005. It describes the role of a new function that should be created by HR. I've been talking recently to Jonathan Winter of Career Innovation. He's been conducting ground breaking research on behalf of large corporates in the field of talent acquisition, social networks and their impact on a wide range of strategic issues. It's just as relevant to small companies (or networks?) as it to large ones. It needs some explanatory text which I've not had a chance to write, but when CEOs and their boards ask questions about the value of social networks; What's the point, where does all of this take us, what's the business value?
Some of the answers to these questions can be found in this diagram. There are two key outcomes;
Creating and measuring the value of intangible assets, so called good will - a significant proportion of a company's market capitalisation is based on good will, except no one knows how to measure it (at least accurately).
Creating a capability to source and manage people on demand. A CEO I worked with at BT a few years ago said "I could manage this company with 5,000 people (rather than the 90,000 on the payroll), if I could derive resources on demand in the same way as I can supply bandwidth on demand". BT will see 25% of its intellectual capital retire in the next five years. This talent is irreplaceable - apparently. But why not create a platform for these people to continue to work for BT except on their own terms, in a fractional way?
The key message in this diagram is a call for a 'function' that is responsible for delivering these two outcomes on a continuous basis. It doesn't matter what you call the role of the leader of that function - Communities Director, Network Leader, Chief Social Officer, if HR doesn't take responsibility for it, they will become irrelevant.
And just to remind you what some of the benefits are, here's a table we devised at Ecademy in 2003 for various companies curious about the impact of social networks to their "bottom line".