Three Forces That Drive Social Behavior.

by Gil Yehuda on October 18, 2010

in Enterprise 2.0,Open Source

As I passed the clearance table at the bookstore, I saw a book whose title caught my eye, and was cheap – so I mindlessly grabbed it on my way to the checkout line. At home I found that it was by a Methodist minister, and was about leadership challenges in a diverse congregation. Turns out, there was a reason it was on the clearance table, it was not very well written; a shame.   But it got me thinking that clergy members have insight into leadership and community, and this could be  relevant to Enterprise 2.0 professionals. Then I came across a fantastic speech by the Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom about the role of religion in society and  it addressed what I was looking for. I distilled the religious overtones from the speech to arrive at the following. Let me know if you think this makes sense to you .  (Again my  message here is not one of religion, but of something that E2.0 professionals might learn from religious communities.  That said, I think this speech is worth listening to regardless of your views on matters of faith.)

The speech highlights three ways in which humans manage (and control) social behaviors.  Of these, two are well understood in workplace, and one  is at the heart of Enterprise 2.0.

Politics: The first way we control behavior is by the rule of force. We institutionalize this via government. As governments have evolved, controls are added to prevent the abuse of the governed – but at its core, governance and the rule of law is about the delegation of control over a society. The infrastructure of this model is the hierarchy. Even democracies have hierarchies. And they dispense power in a downward manner.

At its core, the message is “I tell you what to do (or don’t), and you follow; otherwise expect consequences.” We learned about authoritative control from our parents who taught us to consider “because I said so” as a reasonable response.

The workplace inherits this system of social control via a hierarchy of power. Everyone has a boss – and that structure is designed to control behavior – or more softly said – to align behavior toward common goals. Early 20th century business was highly influenced by Fredrick Winslow Taylor’s management theories, which were reflected this model.

“It is only through enforced standardization of methods, enforced adoption of the best implements and working conditions, and enforced cooperation that this faster work can be assured. And the duty of enforcing the adoption of standards and enforcing this cooperation rests with management alone.” — Taylor, Principles of Scientific Management

Economics: The second way we control social behavior is by incentives. We institutionalize this model via the marketplace. The marketplace evolved into an exchange of (virtual) goods for (virtual) currency where rewarded behaviors yield more currency and this translates to more choices. Behavior is thus, in effect, controlled – not be the force of law, but by the dynamics of merit.  Marketplaces operate horizontally, spreading wealth as a function of behavior.

At its core, the marketplace provides incentives for those behaviors that society rewards. Moreover, the marketplace is affected by  policies that provide incentive for desired behaviors; e.g. investing for the long-term,  local-area commerce, etc.  Rather than passing a law telling you how much of your income you are required to save – the simple adjustment of a treasury bond’s interest rate will cause the desired social behavior to take place.  We learned about negotiated behavior control from our parents too – when we were a bit older and they started to negotiate with us by exchanging privileges for chores.

Most modern workplaces have evolved from the Taylorian management model and include many marketplace incentives too. Workers can earn financial bonuses and behavioral perks (e.g. flex time, less scrutiny, etc.) by behaving in alignment to the internal marketplace. Dozens of collaborative leadership and organization-motivational theories occupy the modern MBA curriculum.  And most of these could be summarized to the manipulation of carrot and  stick – the incentives and the edicts. Modern corporations operate with both models at play. Management hierarchies are the government that brokers and manages the allocation of power. Motivational incentives are the marketplace that brokers and manages the allocation of wealth and reward.

Community:  And yet, there is a third model of social control that exists in our experience as social human, but was never well understood in the workplace. And it’s this third model that gives us insight into the phenomenon of “Social Business” – or the “2.0 – workplace”.  At this part of the speech, the speaker ties in the role of religion here.  Let me shift focus and apply his words to the workplace instead.

The third way we control behavior is via the covenants that exists in membership communities. Consider the group of people who join to perform various worship rituals together on a regular basis. They are not legally obligated or financially incented to conform to the behaviors of their group, but they do. Other social communities, such as weight-loss groups, bereavement support, local sports, book clubs, and others all share the common features that neither law nor money enforce behavior, and yet behaviors are enforced via some social contract.

Understanding the dynamics of these groups provides insight into the collaborative workplace. And then integrating this understanding alongside the other two models appears to be the key to unlock the mysteries of Enterprise Collaboration. Let me emphasize – just like having management incentives does not eradicate the org chart, having workplace communities does not undermine it either.  And yet, many workplaces are afraid to acknowledge that workers behave with a sense of all three models in place.

To put it in simple terms:  knowledge workers interact using all three models in place.  They know that they have a reporting hierarchy, they are motivated by horizontal incentives, and they naturally form communal bonds with people who share fate and faith.  And yet, management sciences seems to ignore the third element of this reality.  Perhaps this is why Enterprise 2.o thinking has met with resistance.

In the US we are sensitive to separate “church from state” (a statement which has multiple implications, and sometimes misunderstood).  Moreover, most workplaces strive to attenuate conversations that could cause rift in the workplace (e.g. the old adage is that you never talk about sex, religion, or politics at work).  Perhaps these sensitivities cause us to think that communal behaviors are not suitable for the workplace.  I think we may have taken the sensitivity too far.

Inspired by the speech linked above, I wrote about community strength regarding matters of Fate and Faith already. Shared fate is enough to get people to the table and discuss issues.  Shared faith is required to overcome great barriers. After listening to this speech again, I’m encouraged to examine how these forces play out in the modern workplace.  As a follow-up my next post will apply these ideas to some work I’m involved in regarding Open Source communities.  Why Open Source?  To me the Open Source movement is not only an example of business collaboration,  but it also displays elements of a secular religious movement.

{ 3 trackbacks }

Is Collaboration a Crock? | Sonnez en cas d'absence
October 25, 2010 at 6:27 am
Open Source and the “three forces” model. | Gil Yehuda's Enterprise 2.0 Blog
October 25, 2010 at 8:47 am
La collaboration… une fumisterie ? | Sonnez en cas d'absence
November 4, 2010 at 2:15 am

{ 60 comments… read them below or add one }

1 deb louison lavoy January 26, 2012 at 5:33 pm

RT @rhappe: Here's a great post on what influences people behaviors for #CMTraining – 3 Forces of Social Behavior – http://t.co/F2dGxUwV

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2 eli ingraham January 26, 2012 at 5:32 pm

nice! > RT @rhappe: great post on what influences behaviors for #CMTraining 3 Forces of Social Behavior http://t.co/0oT3Ol7W #cmtraining

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3 eli ingraham January 26, 2012 at 5:31 pm

nice! > RT @rhappe: great post on what influences behaviors for #CMTraining 3 Forces of Social Behavior http://t.co/vMKSipGc #cmtraining

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4 Spencer Bramson January 26, 2012 at 5:31 pm

Thanks for posting this! MT @rhappe: Here's a great post on what influences people behaviors for #CMTraining – http://t.co/sI2M3RVG

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5 Rachel Happe January 26, 2012 at 5:30 pm

Here's a great post on what influences people behaviors for #CMTraining – 3 Forces of Social Behavior – http://t.co/cEeCZ4Ho

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6 Ken Cooper November 13, 2010 at 12:00 am

Three Forces That Drive Social Behavior. | Gil Yehuda's Enterprise 2.0 Blog http://bit.ly/cqoYLL

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7 Ross Hunton November 11, 2010 at 1:41 pm

An excellent article on three forces that drive social behavior #Enterprise2.0 : http://bit.ly/agIxBe

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8 Gil Yehuda November 9, 2010 at 5:48 pm

The orghart is not dead. IMO it's a relevant part of three forces that dive social work behaviors http://is.gd/gSe3e #e2conf

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9 Ewald Liedenbaum October 31, 2010 at 12:11 am

Three Forces That Drive Social Behavior. | Gil Yehuda's Enterprise 2.0 Blog – http://bit.ly/cmEt65 via @gyehuda

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10 Maria Frangieh October 29, 2010 at 1:47 pm

Three Forces That Drive Social Behavior. http://fb.me/IDh9zQYX

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11 Richard Harbridge October 25, 2010 at 8:37 pm

Three forces that drive social behavior http://bit.ly/cikrPu {From religious communities/concepts. Interesting perspective}

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12 Rotkapchen October 25, 2010 at 4:09 pm

Great stuff, some finetuning suggested. You use the label economics and align it to financial incentives. While these can be a subset of economics, so is power. Anything that influences our choices is an element of economics.

Something else you didn’t differentiate that is critical is government vs. governance.

If you reframe this entire piece focused on economics and governance you’ll have a much stronger model for behavior and its influence.

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13 Gil Yehuda October 26, 2010 at 10:33 am

Thanks Paula,

You make great points — economics is about power too, not just wealth. Government and governance are different. And thus this model should be further refined to really make sense. I don’t know if I’m clever enough to get too far with the refinements though. Moreover, I was looking at those two as backdrops to the third force. But I welcome ideas that help.

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14 Sebastien Wiertz October 24, 2010 at 7:11 am

Three Forces That Drive Social Behavior. Blog http://goo.gl/C5pQ #e20

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15 dvdstphns October 22, 2010 at 4:05 pm

RT @lbenitez: Great read by @gyehuda: Three Forces That Drive Social Behavior. http://t.co/YxOEVEZ

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16 Michael Chitty October 22, 2010 at 6:27 am

Three forces that drive social behaviour – politics, economics, community http://bit.ly/agIxBe good post via @markwfoden

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17 Nancy McManus October 21, 2010 at 5:40 pm

RT @mjtwit: Three Forces That Drive #Social Behavior. http://t.co/2QlmWbK via @ITSinsider

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18 Diana Huggins October 21, 2010 at 5:15 pm

RT @cflanagan: Liked: Three Forces That Drive Social Behavior. | Gil Yehuda's Enterprise 2.0 Blog – http://bit.ly/cmEt65 via @gyehuda

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19 Community Roundtable October 21, 2010 at 4:37 pm

RT @cflanagan: Liked: Three Forces That Drive Social Behavior. | Gil Yehuda's Enterprise 2.0 Blog – http://bit.ly/cmEt65 via @gyehuda

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20 Claire Flanagan October 21, 2010 at 4:32 pm

Liked: Three Forces That Drive Social Behavior. | Gil Yehuda's Enterprise 2.0 Blog – http://bit.ly/cmEt65 via @gyehuda

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21 Mike Jensen October 21, 2010 at 2:58 pm

Three Forces That Drive #Social Behavior. http://t.co/2QlmWbK via @ITSinsider

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22 Eric Andersen October 21, 2010 at 2:56 pm

Insightful post: #e20 at 50,000ft? How politics, economics, community drive social behavior http://j.mp/c7dHgZ /by @gyehuda

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23 Luis Benitez October 21, 2010 at 2:46 pm

Great read by @gyehuda: Three Forces That Drive Social Behavior. http://t.co/YxOEVEZ

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24 Luis Benitez October 21, 2010 at 2:46 pm

Great read by @gyehuda: Three Forces That Drive Social Behavior. http://t.co/YxOEVEZ

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25 Susan Scrupski October 21, 2010 at 2:36 pm

Three Forces That Drive Social Behavior. http://t.co/2QlmWbK

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26 Tillakum October 20, 2010 at 9:24 pm

Politics, Economics & Community: RT @twiliew: "rediscovering" 3rd force: 3 Forces That Drive Social Behavior http://t.co/i23CZHp by @gyehuda

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27 La Gazette du Québec October 20, 2010 at 6:50 pm

Three Forces That Drive Social Behavior. | Gil Yehuda's Enterprise 2.0 Blog http://ht.ly/2WGcH

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28 Ken Domen October 20, 2010 at 1:07 pm

@gyehuda this reminds me of the great conversation we had in Portland: http://ow.ly/2Wqlf

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29 Gil Yehuda October 20, 2010 at 8:20 am

Indeed Ken. After our conversation I decided that I’d have to write it down in the blog. Thanks for the inspiration and encouragement.

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30 La Gazette du Québec October 20, 2010 at 1:05 pm

Three Forces That Drive Social Behavior. | Gil Yehuda's Enterprise 2.0 Blog http://ht.ly/2WqjZ

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31 173 Sud October 20, 2010 at 1:05 pm

Three Forces That Drive Social Behavior. | Gil Yehuda's Enterprise 2.0 Blog http://ht.ly/2WqjH

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32 Jennifer Sertl October 20, 2010 at 10:36 am

Three Forces That Drive Social Behavior. http://t.co/MDk6PBM

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33 Tom Graves October 20, 2010 at 8:45 am

RT @oscarberg: RT @gyehuda: Blog post #e20 Three Forces That Drive Social Behavior http://ow.ly/19w4x5 <also applies to #entarch etc

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34 Thierry de Baillon October 20, 2010 at 3:09 am

Interesting post, Gil… which quite makes me feel uncomfortable.
Acknowledging for the need to keep the three models in place merely put emphasis on power and wealth (your words) beside collaboration, not a very rejoicing, or very empowered, view of the collaborative enterprise, religious considerations set apart.
My view is that a community-based model will have deep repercussions on the other two models, and that understanding them in terms of “power” and “wealth” is like considering the collaborative mechanisms from an abstract point of view. Either will it fail to deliver, or will it transform the two others.
Politics: social control (hierarchy) should lead to subsidiarity, management to leadership. While downward power propagation is an acceptable answer to division of labor up to individuals, communities have the power to delegate their own needs for regulation. This is also true in a child to parent relationship (see here for example). Once the rules are learned, communities are able to self-regulate. (From a religious perspective, see this comment from Jack Willis – @besor – on one of my posts).
Economics: incentives, in a community-driven economy, are not necessarily ruled by marketplaces. Instead, when collaboration really takes place, they are rather the emerged part of a gift economy, in Mauss’ sense of the term. Exchange entails obligation, and internal (rather than external) incentives help freeing people from the bond. Part of the social contract is the level of acceptance, by individuals as well as by the group, of mutual obligation. No more a matter of carrot and stick.
Thierry

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35 Gil Yehuda October 20, 2010 at 8:43 am

Thierry,
I certainly don’t want to make you uncomfortable!

I guess you can say there is “radical E2.0″ and “mainstream E2.0″. I’m describing what I’d call the mainstream approach. In the radical version you allow the communal forces to be the dominating management model. Employees would be comrades. This is akin to some forms of the collective economic model that you’d find in a Kibbutz, or in a Law Collective. It’s a reality, but I think a limited one.

I see the mainstream approach as being a bit more relevant to most larger organizations who are simply looking to understand E2.0 and not abandon the management forces that are already in place (hierarchy and individual incentives). My message here is that all three forces are part of our human experience anyway. Even as I focus on my communal persona, I still recognize that I’m subjected to the forces of power and economics that exist outside of the community, but as part of me being a citizen of a State.

Perhaps some E2.0 professionals over emphasize the community and those who oppose the movement are opposing the radical approach. I think that traditional management models simply ignore the communal reality. Companies actually “get it” when they throw a holiday party, host corporate baseball games, and other social events that build relationships. E2.0 helps them “get it” more — in a more scalable, cost effective, and productive manner than setting up parties every week.

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36 Social27Hub October 19, 2010 at 7:42 pm

Three Forces That Drive Social Behavior. http://ow.ly/2W06I (via @gyehuda) #E20

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37 Larry Hawes October 19, 2010 at 7:26 pm

Brilliant post, Gil! This is the clearest most sensible argument I have seen for why social business complements existing ways of structuring and operating organizations, rather than over throwing them in revolutionary fashion. Well done!

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38 Gil Yehuda October 20, 2010 at 8:21 am

Thank you Larry! Your comment is very gracious. You are quite the expert in this area, and your endorsement is very meaningful. I hope this is a good foundation from which we can build on.

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39 Janne Ruohisto October 19, 2010 at 5:13 pm

RT @raesmaa: Gil Yehuda: Three Forces That Drive Social Behavior http://www.gilyehuda.com/2010/10/18/three-forces-that-drive-social-behavior

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40 Carolyn MacNeill October 19, 2010 at 4:36 pm

RT @raesmaa, @gyehuda: Three Forces That Drive Social Behavior http://t.co/oet2HuF #e20

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41 Christopher McCann October 19, 2010 at 4:34 pm

Excellent post ! RT @oscarberg: RT @gyehuda: Blog post #e20 Three Forces That Drive Social Behavior http://ow.ly/19w4x5

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42 Franky Redant October 19, 2010 at 4:27 pm

RT @Demeto: Great post! > RT @gyehuda: Blog post #e20 Three Forces That Drive Social Behavior http://ow.ly/19w4x5 (via @oscarberg)

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43 David Demetrius October 19, 2010 at 4:16 pm

Great post! > RT @gyehuda: Blog post #e20 Three Forces That Drive Social Behavior http://ow.ly/19w4x5 (via @oscarberg)

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44 Oscar Berg October 19, 2010 at 4:11 pm

RT @gyehuda: Blog post #e20 Three Forces That Drive Social Behavior http://ow.ly/19w4x5

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45 Alan Weintraub October 19, 2010 at 4:04 pm

RT @raesmaa: Gil Yehuda: Three Forces That Drive Social Behavior http://t.co/oet2HuF #e20

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46 Kati Sulin October 19, 2010 at 4:00 pm

Politics, enomics, community: RT @raesmaa: Gil Yehuda: Three Forces That Drive Social Behavior http://t.co/oet2HuF #viestinta #johtaminen

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47 Riitta Raesmaa October 19, 2010 at 3:55 pm

Gil Yehuda: Three Forces That Drive Social Behavior http://t.co/oet2HuF #e20

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48 J Small October 19, 2010 at 4:49 am

RT @gyehuda: Blog post #e20 Three Forces That Drive Social Behavior. – As I passed the clearance table at the bookstore, I saw a … http://ow.ly/19w4x5

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49 Gautam Ghosh October 19, 2010 at 4:45 am

RT @BillIves: RT @gyehuda: Blog post #e20 Three Forces That Drive Social Behavior http://ow.ly/19w4x5

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50 Bill Ives October 19, 2010 at 1:25 am

RT @gyehuda: Blog post #e20 Three Forces That Drive Social Behavior http://ow.ly/19w4x5

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51 Ken Domen October 19, 2010 at 12:48 am

RT @gyehuda: Blog post #e20 Three Forces That Drive Social Behavior. – As I passed the clearance table at the bookstore, I saw a … http://ow.ly/19w4x5

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52 Gil Yehuda October 19, 2010 at 12:39 am

Blog post #e20 Three Forces That Drive Social Behavior. – As I passed the clearance table at the bookstore, I saw a … http://ow.ly/19w4x5

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53 Luis Suarez October 18, 2010 at 9:33 pm

RT @twiliew: Great post! We are "rediscovering" the third force, aren't we? | Three Forces That Drive Social Behavior. http://t.co/i23CZHp by @gyehuda

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54 C.C. Liew October 18, 2010 at 9:29 pm

Great post! We are "rediscovering" the third force, aren't we? | Three Forces That Drive Social Behavior. http://t.co/i23CZHp by @gyehuda

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55 lars haahr October 18, 2010 at 7:14 pm

Three Forces That Drive Social Behavior. http://t.co/kiitxiJ #e20 #collaboration #itko2010

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56 Enterprise20 Eqentia October 18, 2010 at 6:45 pm

Three Forces That Drive Social Behavior. http://eqent.me/dxGx3Z

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57 deb louison lavoy October 18, 2010 at 6:05 pm

interesting perspective RT @gyehuda:Three Forces That Drive Social Behavior.: As I passed the clearance table at the… http://bit.ly/c3WNzR

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58 Nikhil Nulkar October 18, 2010 at 5:41 pm

Its all abt interest grps & evangelism tat'll drive nextgen ent. >> RT @gyehuda Three Forces That Drive Social Behavior http://bit.ly/c3WNzR

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59 Wissensauslese October 18, 2010 at 5:37 pm

#gilyehuda Three Forces That Drive Social Behavior. http://bit.ly/ceJG85 #e20

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60 Gil Yehuda October 18, 2010 at 5:33 pm

Blog post: Three Forces That Drive Social Behavior.: As I passed the clearance table at the… http://goo.gl/fb/YWgIn

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