Remember Google Wave? (laughter) But really, Google Wave was an attempt of connecting people. ideas, and information together in a collaborative environment. In Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point, he talks of three kinds of people that generate change - connectors, mavens, and salespersons. Connectors are networkers - they connect people to information and people to people. Mavens are pedagogical information packrats - they accumulate information, but they also have a desire to share that information with everyone. Salespersons sell information - they convince users that information is valuable and necessary. While all three are important, the connector is the most valuable type of person to an organization because connectors save time and build relationships.
Connectors save time. Rarely will a connector know the answer to an organization's question, but he or she will always know where to find the answer. Librarians are an excellent example of this principle - they do not know all the information of every book in their library, but they know where to find every book. Because of this fundamental property of connectors, connectors inherently save time. They decrease our research time, and they help us filter out irrelevant information. Connectors are a resource that always answer the question, "where can I find...?"
Connectors do not only connect people and information, but they also connect people. They build relationships between people of different temperaments and backgrounds. Often times these connections are across multiple departments or sub-organizations within the parent organization. For example, a connector may connect a product designer with a marketing intern to develop a new signing package for the corporation. Connectors know all of their constituent's strengths and weaknesses. As such, they can build meaningful relationships based on the needs of individuals or the organization.
In conclusion, in The Tipping Point, Gladwell argues there are three kinds of people that generate change - connectors, mavens, and salespersons. Mavens want to share their information, but not everyone is interested in hearing what they want to say. Salespersons understand what other people want, but they do not always know how to find the answer. Connectors strengthen those weak ties to connect people to build meaningful information relationships. While each are important, connectors are the most valuable type of person to an organization because connectors save time and build relationships.
Seth Vargo is an engineer at Google. Previously he worked at HashiCorp, Chef Software, CustomInk, and some Pittsburgh-based startups. He is the author of Learning Chef and is passionate about reducing inequality in technology. When he is not writing, working on open source, teaching, or speaking at conferences, Seth advises non-profits.