A finalist for the 2018 Business Book Awards, “Fully Connected” (“the book”) by the Honorary Visiting Professor at Cass Business School and at the University of Suffolk, Ms. Julia Hobsbawm, “Fully Connected” lends a desperately needed perspective to a world immersed, enmeshed and entangled in a plethora of networks. As Ms. Hobsbawm painstakingly, albeit eruditely explains, the very fact that we are all inextricably connected to an uncompromising and unforgiving world turns out to be both our boon and bane! In an age where fitness regimens, dietary revolutions and mindfulness techniques rule the roost aggressively competing for both our time and money (the concepts of fitness, nutrition and health are all being purveyed and plied by multi-billion dollar conglomerates), one aspect that has been undeservedly neglected as per the author is that of “Social Health”. A pioneer of this concept, Ms. Hobsbawm defines Social Health to mean, “the productive, functional flow of Knowledge and Networks, happening at the right Time (the ‘KNOT’).
The ‘KNOT’ is the core, crux and the overarching essence underlying this book. The social and interpersonal well-being of an individual according to Ms. Hobsbawm is a connected factor of the right intelligence, sufficient networks and acting in a timely manner. However, in an age characterized by a veritable Information Overload where the number of connections every passing day explode rapaciously and exponentially, managing the ‘KNOT’ may be an overwhelming experience. In order to assist a hapless individual faced with such a burgeoning proposition, Ms. Hobsbawm proposes a ‘coping mechanism’ – in fact she goes a step further and lays down a trio of coping mechanisms. This troika represents management, communication and sixth sense.
Lest readers be swayed by a perception, nay, a misperception that Ms. Hobsbawm is an integral part of the techno-mavens advocating unceasing connectivity with their attendant embellishments and innovations, the book emphatically advocates ‘disconnecting’. While this does not espouse radical measures such as off-the-grid living or transformation into temporary mendicants, more practical guidelines and suggestions such as restricting the number of interactions (in alignment with the Dunbar equation of 150 connections), taking a break from the insane hustle and bustle of the mundane Russian Roulette of life (The Names Without Numbers Conference sessions/breakouts purveyed by the author is a classic case in point) are offered to the readers. Ms. Hobsbawm in fact proceeds to identify six vital elements of what Information Overload, namely:
- Information Obesity;
- Time Starvation;
- Network Tangle;
- Organizational Bloat; and
- Life Gridlock
Subsequent to identifying the six perils of Information Overload that threatens us, Ms.Hobsbawm proceeds to offer solutions in the form of the KNOT and the coping mechanisms attached to it. An interesting aspect of the book relates to the critical breakdown of connectivity even in spite of the sophisticated technologies creating the same and the stellar infrastructure undergirding them. The failure of the World Health Organisation (“WHO”) in containing the Ebola epidemic in spite of timely and prompt warnings issued by Médecins Sans Frontières or the total failure of the British Police in the gruesome Soham murders, demonstrates the dangers of not spotting patterns and trends. This incapability – which ideally should not have materialized as a result of the plethora of technologies crying for our attention – demonstrates in startling detail the pitfalls of missing the vital elements in the connectivity link.
“Fully Connected” is a wake-up call for our times plagued by the unrelenting forces of competition, chaos, cause and consequence.