Management Monday: Magic 150
Adopting the number 150 into business strategy can be highly useful concerning relationship strategy, particularly in the realms of Management and Social Media.
Why 150? It has to do with relationships and human cognitive ability. “The figure of 150 seems to represent the maximum number of individuals with whom we can have a genuinely social relationship, the kind of relationship that goes with knowing who they are and how they relate to us.” This is a quote from Evolutionary Psychologist, Robert Dunbar, who based his statement on his research tracking the average number of Christmas cards sent out by households (Bloomberg Business Week). He argues that Christmas cards cost, take time and are personal. Therefore, the individuals chosen to receive Christmas cards are likely those with the most genuine relationships. But Dunbar is not the first researcher to uncover the magic 150 number. Through the years, similar studies have revealed parallel findings. Hutterites (Anabaptist sect) tend to split and form new communities when they grow larger than 150. Modern hunter-gatherer clans tend to include 150 members. One Huffington Post article even revealed that an average Facebook user has 130 friends (this number is fascinating close to the 150).
How does this information apply to business strategy?
150 in Management
Ironically, this can be traced to many core issues with talent retention in large companies. Big company bureaucracy, ignoring employee passion, lack of concern for career development, lack of accountability and lack of open-mindedness were listed by Forbes Contributor, Eric Jackson, as some of the top reasons large companies fail to retain their top talent. It isn’t hard to see that these pains partially stem from poorly maintained professional relationships, which can be traced to breaking the 150 rule. How can anyone be expected to track accountability or keep up with the performance of eight-hundred employees or coworkers? That’s why some businesses, such as W.L. Gore & Associates, split into new branches when their population exceeds 150 people (Bloomberg Business Week). Methods like that of W.L. Gore & Associates help to strengthen culture and boost performance.
150 in Social Media
This concept can be useful when considering the popular debate of positive and negative aspects of Social Media. How can one person possibly have 2,000 close friends? Is Social Media damaging because people are spreading themselves too thin? Or, how can a business realistically connect personally with 45,000 Facebook fans? Remember, 45,000 connections are different from 150 genuine relationships. Considering the research, it is plausible for a company to be up-to-date with postings and happenings of 150 relative connections. Those relationships involve regularly reposting their content. Tagging in photos because they were likely at the same event or generally engaging in conversation. The rest of Social Media presence serves as an additional platform for Customer Service. Social Media presents an opportunity for businesses to be emotionally intelligent toward their consumers and serve needs.
Think of each organization as the Los Angeles Lakers or a sports group in general, the corporate team as players, and Social Media connections as the crowd in the stands. Empower the team players through teambuilding and make the crowd cheer by being in tune with their needs.