It occurred to me that during the recent election campaign, and subsequent “Phony Government” that  both sides over-used the term “Social Capital“, as well as mis-using it. Whilst it was not one of the hollow slogans of the campaign, it got a pretty fair run as each side tried to give their “policies” substance.

Social capital is created when a person contributes without any expectation of reward, it is just the right thing to do for the group, and for that sense of well being that individuals feel but do not often articulate. This giving creates a sense of mutual obligation, which is the glue that holds social groups together.

The same dynamic is at work in collaborative systems, if you put in, the sense of obligation is created, and others join the effort. Commercial collaboration has at its heart making a bob, but the social aspects of the collaboration process are ignored or under-estimated at the peril of the collaborative project.

For a number of years I have looked after the grass courts at my local tennis club. It takes some time, it is entirely voluntary, and I do  it simply because I enjoy playing the game on grass, the costs of professional maintenance are way beyond the capacity of a small club to fund, and once the grass is replaced or let go to become a cow paddock, it will never come back, and few would want that to happen. In this case, perhaps the mutual bit comes in when other club members are still prepared to play with me in my tennis dotage, which is sometimes a bit closer than I would like.