Why relationships really are everything

How much value do you place on your relationships? Perhaps you’re thinking a lot more about them after 18 months of a global pandemic that has forced us into our homes and kept us apart from people? For us at AKOU, understanding how people make good relationships and quantifying the social value created by them is at the heart of what we care about. But why do we think its so important and what is the benefit of understanding the value of connectivity?

Keeping relationships in our focus

For us, relationships are everything. We’ve spent so much time and energy focusing on how to capture the magic between relationships. Our Connector Quiz supports people to understand the unique ways they build and maintain relationships. Our Collective Perspective package allows teams to gain a detailed picture of the value they bring to each other and the reasons why those they work for appreciate and value their connection. We also work with communities and local projects around the country to understand how they support and encourage greater social connection. And our app gives individuals tangible metrics about the value people derive from their relationship.

Influences our connections have on us

The importance of relationships goes wider than AKOU, our products and our services. Beyond our walls, relationships really do affect everything, they really are everything.

Relationships are key to much of you personal and professional life. Be it your work culture or your sense of connection to a place, community or neighbourhood.

The building blocks of relationships

We all build relationships in different ways. Some of us find it easier than others. At AKOU, we like to term this your magic ingredients for relationship building.

Over the past year and a half we’ve been exploring in detail the way people build connections. We’ve gained an amazing insight into how people connect to others in their teams and communities. In 2021 our Collective Perspective Journey was undertaken by wide range of teams and organisations. The Collective Perspective allows teams to more easily understand the social impact they create through their work. With it we focus on gaining insights on connections and the way people build relationships.

The first part of the journey gives people space and time to reflect on how they view their networks and connections they hold. This has been beneficial for people to get to grips with their relationships following spates of lockdowns and periods of isolation.

Our process makes people recognise that they are connectors in their own right. We show people that their style and approach is just as valuable as the typical view of a connector. For a team, insight about how they all connect and build relationships is highly valuable. We’ve seen already it being used by teams to direct and reshape engagement strategies and approaches.

Through our work we hear first hand, the struggles and challenges that people face when it comes to building and maintaining connection. In our experience, everyone finds at least one element of relationship building and management tricky. The process of identifying and talking through the difficult parts is so valuable.

For teams, mapping out the strengths, connector types and struggles connected to relationship building leads to valuable discussions and insights to help improve their team culture.

Why seeing who’s connected to who really helps

On a wider scale, beyond our individual connections, it’s important to understand how we connect to each other. It’s so powerful to be able to see how we are, or are not, connected to others. The simple act of mapping connections and seeing how they fit together can spark so much in your mind. It can help drive you to reach out to people you haven’t spoken to for ages or make you think of new solutions that involve those who are not just the usual suspects.

Having a greater understanding of relationships can be useful in unpicking and solving many challenges and problems. It can be as simple as getting an informed view of the relationships held by your team, organisation or community. Visualising connectivity is a powerful tool. As Judith Donath puts it her book The Social Machine: Designs for Living Online (available at MIT online): ‘One can imagine this being especially helpful to newcomers as they attempt to learn the often taken-for-granted and unspoken structure of the community.’

Getting a better view and understanding of your network helps to identify the best people to spread important news. It helps you recognise who could link you up to new people, opportunities and collaborations.

Knowing the value of relationships

Deep down we all know that relationships are important. We sense the value of connection and connectivity. It’s a visceral, natural thing that we can’t escape.

For so long however we’ve all struggled as a society to express the value of relationships. That’s our current challenge – making the intangible tangible. We’ve not yet solved it, but we’d like to think we are making good progress.

Being able to show and tell others about the value you bring by building relationships is just part of it, just as important as being able to get people to recognise the special way they build connections and what this sparks in others.

We’re continuing to see a greater sway towards measures of success focusing on ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) and not just profit. This is across the board in government, business and in investment. We recognise that the environment and climate change is very important, but for us the most important measure is Social. And within this, relationships are key. Cracking our understanding around the value of relationships and the important role they play in our social and economic lives will help to drive forward positive change that can impact upon far more people.