Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Power of Network Weaving

One of the most interesting developments in the social sciences is the new science of social networks. This is the growing body of knowledge and practice about how organizations, communities, regions, industries, markets and geopolitics behave as networks of collaboration, learning, and influence.

One of the principles in social network science is that when people are better connected, they are more individually and collectively productive, cohesive, and resilient.

From a social network perspective, every social problem is a symptom of fragmentation in networks. Everything we call a problem today is a manifestation of unengaged citizens, siloed institutions, divisive politics, and fragmented industries. Few new possibilities can occur in a world of disconnections. When connections thrive, new possibilities thrive.

Where people are thriving in the world today, their social networks are the fabric of their thrivancy. When people are better connected in social networks, they become more of a community.

Social network sciences suggest that the most significant accelerator of network connections is the presence of network weavers in networks.

Network weavers are people who intentionally and informally - and often serendipitously - weave new and richer connections between and among people, groups, and entities in networks. They also weave new and richer connections between among networks.

This is not a new role; it is a role that has been around since the beginning of social introductions. Network weavers do three things.

1. They constantly learn about the assets and opportunities in the network. This includes the tangible and intangible, shared and isolated, well-engaged and unengaged talents, resources, funds, space, expertise, and knowledge available within the network.

2. They constantly learn about the dreams of people in the network. These are the passions inspiring what people are striving to create and pursue.

3. They constantly introduce and connect people with complementary dreams and assets.

Anyone can be a network weaver. It requires no specialized position, permission, personality type, or preparation. Network weaving only requires five things: intention, time, curiosity, the ability to make quality introductions, and a good connection with those they’re connecting.

Network weaving can happen in any media and geography - in person, online, by phone or text. It can be strategically planned or spontaneously improvised. It can take minutes or months.

A quality introduction is one where the people introduced are immediately inspired to get to know one another more, with a new sense of learning, collaboration, transaction, or alliance possibilities.

The power of network weaving is how it invites a culture of generosity that is the basis for all thriving networks.

The more network weaving happens in a network, the more people are connected in new ways. When people are better connected, they dream with greater courage, they share their assets with greater generosity, and they innovate with greater resourcefulness.

The divide between knowledge and asset haves and have-nots shrinks, creating a culture of trust and engagement rather than isolation and entitlement. People with common dreams scale their dreams thanks to wider and richer collaborations. People become more transparent and as a result, share a sense of responsibility for the well-being of the whole.

Through network weaving, we become able to create a common future different from the past.


Holly said...

Thanks Jack... I know this to be true. Thanks putting this in words that can be shared.

Unknown said...

An amazing post, serendipitously found thanks to Google! We're actually planning a 400 person event for Oct 1-3, where the final day is all about [insert drum roll] network weaving.... We just lost a venue which has required us to change the day's design.


Your post has inspired us to develop the "three things Network weavers do" into three experiential activities.

Fabulous!!! We're neck deep in work, but will hopefully remember after the event to let you know how it went.


mlm leads said...

Social networks may also influence health via social influence. Shared norms about health behaviors (e.g., alcohol and cigarette consumption, treatment adherence) might be powerful sources of social influence with direct consequences for the behaviors of network members.

patrickwilsonwelsh said...

What a lovely meme and thread. I'll spread it as virally as I can. It's a useful bit of pattern language for me. Tx so much. I'll be using your post to help our HR folks revise some of our interview questions. We need more Network Weavers on our staff.

Anonymous said...

For another theorization of network thinking as a way to rebuild a political project, see also :