Saturday, June 24, 2006

Social network bandwidth

Interesting conversation today with friend and colleague Tom Carlson who's fast becoming a raving social network fan. Actually, it's always in our blood until we discover the framework that unleashes it.

Anyway, we were talking about rating the quality of our connections on a -10 to +10 scale. As it turns out, each of us, given everything on our personal plates, have finite bandwidth of time and energy we can give to the quality of our connections. It is our experience that our strong +9 and 10 connections often require more care and feeding than our more superficial +2 and 3 connections.

So we can visualize having a bandwidth of, say, 50 points on any given week on personal and professional scales. If we have two +9's, that leaves 32 points to distribute among maybe a few of +4's and 5's and a handful of +2's and 3's.

If people want to close triangles in our behalf, we may want to be intentional about honoring both the core and perifery opportunities in our personal networks. On the whole, keeping a balance of diversity and continuity serves us all.

I am also considering that there are other principles at play and it may be interesting to hold assumptions lightly, in the spirit of dialogue.

Maybe there's a bell curve of time and energy/effort along the quality continuum from 0 to +10, where investment is less required at the ends and more at the middle! Maybe up in the 9's and 10's, the trust equity makes this more self-sustaining, so we have the benefit of having many high quality connections, ranging in interaction frequencies from daily to once in a blue moon.

Just putting it out there for the dialogue, now that I am far more clear on what I don't know : )

Friday, June 23, 2006

Network Weaving 101

One of the basic building blocks of weaving networks is "closing of triangles". A triangle exists between three people in a social network. An "open triangle" is where there is an opportunity to introduce two people by the third person who knows them both -- it is a triangle with one missing link like in the diagram immediately below. A "closed triangle" is where all three people know each other.

Here we see our friend and colleague Ed Morrison, of iOpen, connected to two of his clients -- the economic development folks in both Lexington, KY and Oklahoma City, OK. He knows each of these groups, but they do not know each other. Much could be learned if both of these groups shared their economic development experiences with each other -- innovation happens at the intersections.

But you can't introduce groups to groups, or organizations to organizations -- it works better by introducing people to people. So, Ed picked two leaders from each group to close the triangle. He picked Cynthia Reid at the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce[OKC] and Lynda Brabowski of Commerce Lexington[CLX]. This triangle is illustrated below.

When Lynda expressed a desire to Ed for CLX to visit another region that they could learn from, Ed immediately knew the answer -- visit OKC, who previously had faced similar issues and handled them very well. Ed, also knew which introduction to make -- a network weaver needs to know WHOM to connect by knowing the people, the groups, and the dynamics involved in the connections that are being made. The closed triangle -- after Ed's introduction -- is shown below.

This was not the end of this weaving opportunity. Ed accompanied the CLX folks on their visit with OKC. During the trip he closed a few more triangles. Ed introduced the CLX group to two of the key architects of the economic blossoming in Oklahoma City, Ron Norrick -- the former mayor that started the effort, and Burns Hargis a key OKC board member. Those closed triangles are below.

The cool thing about closing triangles is that anyone can do it, and you do not need anyone's permission to do it! Close triangles around you wherever and whenever you see an opportunity. You and your community will benefit.

Just do it!

Here is Ed's write-up of the above -- connecting of two regions.

I was first tipped off to this by Brewed Fresh Daily -- where Cleveland and NEO goes to find out what is REALLY happening!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Cleveland Entrepreneurs & Their Colleagues

Entrepreneurs for Sustainability[E4S] is a NE Ohio network of entrepreneurs and change agents from business, government, academia and non-profit sectors who are implementing sustainability principles. They celebrated the Open House of their new work/meeting space this week. Included in that celebration was a network map of almost 600 NE Ohio entrepreneurs and their colleagues who run sustainable businesses in the Cleveland-Akron-Canton-Youngstown Ohio region.

As with most network maps, this one [printed wall size], soon had a crowd around it pointing, laughing, taking notes & pictures, and discussing. Several people, who did not find themselves on the map, quickly filled out a network survey form which were judiciously placed below the map. Entrepreneurs, and their support organizations, are connected on the map if they share information, advice, or ideas with each other in the execution of their business. [The map above does not contain the names of the entrepreneurs, nor their businesses.]

The three purple nodes in the center of the diagram are Holly Harlan, Courtney DeOreo, and Stephanie Strong -- the leaders of E4S. They are all excellent network weavers. Holly, the founder of E4S, and one of the top network weavers in NE Ohio, is fun to watch at a gathering as she makes one key introduction after another.

E4S is not just growing in size, it is growing in connectivity!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Regional Innovation Networks Workshop

June 29 & 30
Open Source Economic Development: New Practices and Tools for Economic Development - an invigorating curriculum for leaders to create and lead collaborations, map and enhance regional networks, jumpstart innovation, engage in “strategic doing” and measure results.

Workshop Presenters
Ed Morrison
June Holley
Valdis Krebs
Jack Ricchiuto

Time & Place
Dates: Thursday, June 29 & Friday, June 30
Time: 8:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M.
Place: Baldwin Wallace College
Berea, Ohio
Strosacker Hall College Union

Open Source Economic Development is a new approach that teaches you how to develop the open economic networks that drive innovation. Register