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Quantum Trust

Podcast with Dr. Karen Stephenson, "The Organization Woman"

Dr. Karen Stephenson Karen Stephenson, Ph.D

Considering the mass-layoffs many companies are experiencing today, are they in danger of losing the working knowledge of their organizations?

This is Peter Clayton reporting with the continuing series of interviews recorded at the North American NeuroLeadership Summit in New York City. Our special conference leadership series is sponsored by Deloitte.

In this podcast, Dr. Karen Stephenson shares her decades of experience in quantitative social network analysis, explaining how the measurement of relationships reveals general principles and patterns that can be seen across organizations. Diagramming the build-up and breakdown of trust networks gives insight for diagnosing management problems, and, better yet, opens the door to designing more innovative models to face our modern challenges.

Trusted networks do not exist in org charts. Considering the mass-layoffs many companies are facing today, they are in danger of losing the working knowledge of their organizations.

Professor Stephenson's concept, which she calls the "quantum theory of trust," explains not just how to recognize the collective cognitive capability of organizations, but how to cultivate and increase it. She is the most visible member (particularly in business circles) of a small but growing academic field called social network analysis. Originally derived from the complex math used to explain subatomic physics, it is being used to understand and manage the ineffable forces of human interaction within an organization's walls


Dr. Karen Stephenson, hailed in Business 2.0 as "The Organization Woman", is a corporate anthropologist and lauded as a pioneer and "leader in the growing field of social-network business consultants." In 2007, she was one of only three females recognized from a distinguished short list of 55 in Random House's Guide to the Management Gurus. In 2006, she was awarded the first Houghton Hepburn Fellow at Bryn Mawr College for her groundbreaking contributions to civic engagement. In 2001, her consulting firm Netform was recognized as one of the top 100 leading innovation companies by CIO. Her prominence catapulted in 2000 when she was featured in a New Yorker article by Malcolm Gladwell, regarding the social dynamics of office spaces.

Even before these accolades, Stephenson had earned praises for innovatively solving a variety of complex problems which have been featured in The Economist, Forbes, The Guardian, The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Fast Company and Wired. Drawing upon her prolific experience and 400 member database, Dr. Stephenson consistently delivers that "aha' moment to her clients and audiences.

A global nomad, she has been sighted at the Rotterdam School of Management at Erasmus University where she currently lectures. This was preceded by 5 years at the Harvard School of Design and 10 years at the UCLA Anderson Graduate School of Management.

She received her Ph.D. in Anthropology at Harvard University, an M.A. in Anthropology at the University of Utah, and B.A. in Art & Chemistry at Austin College, TX. You can read about her company at www.netform.com.

About Netform

NetForm International, founded in 1997, is an award-winning, innovative enterprise software company that licenses its capabilities in B2B and B2C environments. The company is a leader in this area, building on over twenty-five years of research and consulting experience.

NetForm maps and measures social capital in a business enterprise. NetForm's novel approach says more about how to monetize trust and less about monitoring email traffic. NetForm has developed easy-to-implement net-native business solutions that map, analyze and measure knowledge networks. From this diagnostic, a firm's performance may be prognosticated. For the first time, firms have a direct and accountable measure of their ROI in terms of human and social capital. It's not just the training and skills that go into developing a person; it's how that person is strategically connected in networks and placed in a work environment.

Peter Clayton

About Peter Clayton

Peter Clayton, Producer/Host, is an award-winning producer/director of radio, television, documentary, video, interactive and Web-based media who has created breakthrough media for a wide array of Fortune 100 clients.


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