Sunday, April 23, 2006

Network Mapping


The first step in Network Weaving is mapping the existing networks in your organization/community/region.

• What are our strengths?
• What are our weaknesses?
• Where are the disconnects?
• Who are the Connectors?
• Who are the Mavens?
• Who is in the clusters?
• How open/closed is our network?
• How have we progressed since last year?

Just like doctors use x-rays and CAT scans to see, and make sense of, what is happening in the complex human organism, we use network x-rays to map and measure what is happening in complex human communities like organizations, industries and regional economies.

3 comments:

SteveHabibRose said...

My friend Jon Ramer has done a large number of maps in Mind Manager. By any chance, does InFlow read Mind Manager files??? I know Mind Manager can export to HTML, and I believe it can also export to XML.

I haven't yet committed to a tool for network mapping, and my impression is that InFlow is a more powerful tool for network analysis than Mind Manager. But, if possible, I'd like to leverage all the work that Jon has put into Mind Manager maps...

Valdis said...

Never used MindManager myself, but have seen output from it.

It does not seem to do the kind of networks we need. It does "trees" - which are networks by mathematical definition. A hierarchy and a hub-and-spoke are trees. But I have not seen networks, from MindManager and similar tools, with CLOSED triangles -- which is a requirement for mapping HUMAN networks.

Another benefit of an SNA tool like InFlow is that you can also measure what you map using social network metrics. InFlow allows easy what-ifs between the maps and metrics...
• what if this node leaves our network, what affect does it have?
• what if we add a link between X and Y how will that improve the network?

InFlow takes simple CSV files for the initial import of data...

FromNode,ToNode,LinkStrength*,LinkContent

Steve,Valdis,2,software_applications

* InFlow uses a 5 point scale with 1 being low. No need to enter zero values for links that do not exist.

SteveHabibRose said...

Thanks, Valdis. That's helpful.

The trick here is going to be "mashing-up" what I'm doing with what Jon has already been doing (Jon loves to talk about and organize "mash-ups." He has produced a large number of maps in Mind Manager, and his staff are producing more in the Interra Project.

My guess is that, at a minimum, we'll be able to import the relevant data info into InFlow using the CSV format.

I am in discussion my friend Viki Sonntag about collaborating with her and Sustainable Seattle as part of a project to map the local food system. I'll be in touch if that collaboration materializes.