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Sociometers as a tool to assess interaction among lawyers and therefore productivity

Sociometers are small sensors that lawyers could wear at a retreat (See my post of Sept. 28, 2007: electronic name tags.). They record data about face-to-face interactions such as who is near whom and the location and duration of the interaction. Research based on sociometers, as described in the Harv. Bus. Rev., Vol. 86, Feb. 2009, at 37, shows how creative people oscillate between centralized research and richly interconnected group time.

What particularly interests me is the finding that “employees with the most extensive personal digital networks were 7% more productive than their colleagues.” That speaks well for the deployment of social networks, wikis, and other Web 2.0 tools for law departments. In the same organization, however, “the employees with the most cohesive face-to-face networks were 30% more productive.”

Thus, you might use sensors at a conference and use the data to understand better who interacts with whom and how to boost interchanges (See my post of March 26, 2009: McDonald’s and assigned seating.). Right, no one will want to be tracked every moment. Still, the data would be interesting to everyone.