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Home / Resources / News / Mapping how solidarity travels

Mapping how solidarity travels

In my last post, I asked whether “behind the faces of the Europeans above, we should also look at their motivations for becoming social entrepreneurs and their behaviours as they go about doing business…and how these are affected by different factors (not only those experienced by the Coop)”.

Because we shouldn’t expect only people involved in structures like cooperatives or social enterprises to be “cooperative” or “social”.That’s like saying we should only learn at school or be friendly with friends. Despite the black swans and incentivises pushing people to always be better than their colleagues, like the Call Centre below, there have always been networks of solidarity in the workplace from the match strike ladies tocreative communities in the workplace.


Yet organisations either feel threatened by these behaviours or take them for granted (calculate how much unpaid time you give to your organisation). Some organisations have a deeply embedded culture where their employees want to help each other like @ideo. That’s why @harvardhbs went and mapped the “networks of help” in that organisation. Their CEO @tceb62 argues that they do this because “the more complex the problem (that their organisation is asked to tackle), the more help you need”.

In other organisations, they figured out that “workers with the most connections often shared, which with an engineer named Harry…because he was particularly skilled…at asking good questions”.


  • Who do you turn to when you are stuck with a problem?
  • What is it about them that bring you to ask them for help?
  • What could you learn from them in how you could help others?
How could you apply this to your organisation? 

1. Print out a high level structure chart of the departments in your organisation

2. Put a big black circle on the department where you are

3. Think of who are the three people you would ask first for help:

  • Orange: If you were stuck with how to carry out a task
  • Green: If you needed advice to help you make a decision
  • Purple: If you were confused what your employer had asked you to do
  • Red: If you needed someone to help you resolve a conflict
  • Blue: If you were feeling down
4. Put a dot with the colour identified in the respective departments where those people work

5. Draw a line between yourself and each of them

6. Think how important that help is to you

  • Draw a thin line if that person was away but you could solve the issue yourself
  • Draw a thick line if that person was away and you couldn’t solve the issue yourself, but it wouldn’t affect your work
  • Draw a very big line if that person was away and you couldn’t solve the issue yourself and this affected your work, stressed you out and was noticed by others
7. Ask each of those people you’ve identified to do the exercise themselves (using the paper you’ve just used).

…You could also do this exercise if you were looking at how well people’s networks help them cope with making a living!