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!


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SteveHabibRose said...

Entrepreneurs for Sustainability is an inspiration to those of us in the Seattle area. We've been doing informal "network weaving" for some time. But, until we connected with you folks, we didn't realize that there was a community of practice that we could participate in. So great to be connected!

I had a somewhat similar experience developing a "network map" at the Cooportunities Northwest Sustainable Communities Conference in October 2001. Except that our (wall sized) map had the network connections based on push pins and colored strings of yarn! (At that point we didn't know there were software tools available to do this sort of thing.) Low-tech approach, but a lot of fun, and it created the same sort of interest in the crowd.

Can't wait to see what we'll be able to do with some real tools :-)

Valdis said...


Lot's of possibilities once you get a draft of a network into software -- can model/filter/update/measure/add. Use it as a feedback device for conversations around the network and its future weaving. The evolving map is a sense-making device and talking document.

Andy said...

Another organization looking to build networks and using software to encourage connections (but not yet adopting social network analysis) is Merseybio in the UK -

Valdis said...

People outside of Cleveland love E4S!

Why are they not "rock stars" here? They are respected by many, but they should be lauded by all!