Sunday, December 23, 2007

Accidental conversations

Valdis' brilliant reminders here about the capacity for resilience through net diversity remind me of a point I made in "Accidental Conversations" a few years ago, that we need to practice diversity in our conversations as well.

This is the practice of sparking and nurturing tangents and lateral inquiries in conversations. Lateral inquiries are questions that take the conversation in new directions. Some of the best are questions like who you've seen lately, what you've been reading or listening to lately, what you've seen on or YouTube lately, what you've been up to lately.

These have the potential for a whole vibrant ecology of new discoveries and connections that we could never possibly anticipate, predict, or plan.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Those close by, form a Tie

Birds of a feather flock together... so do entrepreneurs.

Ed Morrison found some interesting research that examines the dense clustering of successful economic neighborhoods/clusters. This research is similar to that of Thomas Allen @ MIT, who studied how engineers and scientists worked, and from that came the Allen Curve, which shows the correlation between distance and frequency of communication in organizations. Both sets of research support what I have observed in social network analysis projects: those close by, form a tie -- and as a result get things done. In the age of the Internet, distance still matters!

From Washington University in St. Louis, News & Information:

"High-tech firms locating close to each other benefit from the proximity," says Barak S. Aharonson, visiting assistant professor of organization and strategy at the Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis. "The potential for frequent face-to-face interaction, serendipitous encounters and easy scrutiny are facilitated by being near firms that are working on similar things and are open to sharing information."

Coffee shop encounters could lead to new business ideas. These "knowledge spillovers" happen more frequently the closer firms are to each other, and dissipate as the distance between companies grows. In fact, Aharonson said, the benefits of agglomeration are strongest within 500 meters (about 0.31 miles) and fade quickly over distances.

"Eventually they are all going to meet in the nearby coffee shop. The basis of agglomerations and the benefit for high tech firms is the flow of knowledge," Aharonson said. "At this point high tech knowledge is almost a public commodity. You can protect it, however through interactions with people — especially those outside the company — it disseminates rapidly. Proximity facilitates face to face interaction and increases the likelihood for knowledge spillovers. These knowledge spillovers enhance the potential creativity of the scientists. Increased creativity leads to new ideas, new products and new businesses. Hence, closely located firms are more likely to benefit from such knowledge spillovers than isolated firms."

Here is the full paper on Knowledge Spillovers.

Via BrewedFreshDaily.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Look what's selling

In today's NY Times, NYU's graduate program's new ad headline/tagline: "I'm earning my Master's, and joining a powerful professional network"

Imagine that! Know-who has finally caught up with know-what and know-how as a differentiating competency in the halls of ivy.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The art of NetAwareness

I am continuously innovating in the development of questions that can evoke netawareness (awareness of your own networks) without necessarily drawing visual maps. These questions are useful as steps before or after mapping, addressing the 3 kinds of value in networks - asset, positional, and generative value.

How many networks are you a part of these days?
In which are you more at the core and which more on the periphery?
Are these positions by choice?
What do you consider the more valuable tangible and intangible assets of these networks?
How many steps do you know or think you are from these assets?
What do you think are the more valuable assets you bring to your networks?
How many people know about these assets?
How many people do you think would describe you as a valued collaborator?
What if anything could position you more as a valued collaborator?
Who in your networks might benefit from your introducing them to each other?
Who would you benefit from being introduced to & who could make these introductions?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

More on Positional Value

I think Jack is bringing up a really key point when he discusses positional value! A Network Weaver needs to be aware of where he or she is in their network(s). I often have individuals or groups of people from an organization or project take a large piece of paper and start drawing their network. In addition to including all the people they work with, they need to identify the connections between those individuals. They also need to include all of their friends' friends--people their friends have talked about but who the mapper does not really know.

All of this mapping helps people think about their position in the network. When someone comes to them with a dream, are they able to connect that individual to people who have the resources and ideas that will enable that person to turn the dream into reality?

Of course, a much more accurate and complete picture can be obtained by surveying the network and mapping the results, then looking at your individual scores for a range of metrics. But either way, you can start to improve your network position so that you can be a better Network Weaver.

For example, I've been trying to help a wonderful energetic candidate for mayor in our small town access information about what other small towns are doing to support Smart Growth--helping local businesses flourish and encouraging effective approaches to energy conservation. In my head, I started drawing a network map of my network that might provide some help in this arena. I realized that if I was going to be a true Network Weaver for him, I had to spruce up my Smart Growth network! I started calling up some people I had worked with years ago in economic development and quizzed them about their network. As I add these new folks to my network, I'm able to introduce the candidate to some truly effective Smart Growth wizards all around the country.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Network Weaver Checklist

Early on in this blog, I offered a list of characteristcs of network weavers. This list has now been expanded into the Network Weaver Checklist, located on my webpage.

The characteristics described in the checklist go far beyond the art of connecting people to each other, important as that is. For example, one good friend of mine always sees opportunities where others would see problems. If we get caught in a traffic jam, he notes that it gives us more time to talk or to notice the beauty around us! This quality, which we call Opportunity Seeking, is critical to network weaver success. By helping us shift our attention from what's wrong to a sense of possibilities, the network weaver is putting us on the path to effective self-organizing. We start thinking about what we can do and who we can work with to make things happen.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

3 Kinds of Value in Networks

In my work with social network development, we're talking about 3 kinds of value people bring to their networks, that shape the quality of their connections.

Asset value is talent and resources. Positional value is awareness of the network and access to assets. Generative value is the ability and willingness to engage strengths in trust building and collaboration. Strong networks not only have people who bring each of these kinds of value, they have people who bring 2 or 3 kinds of value.

What we refer to as "network weavers" are often people with positional and generative value, and sometimes asset value although asset value is not a requirement for network weavers.

Generative value is the most important of all 3 because it drives the kind of inclusion and connectivity that increases a network's net (pardon the pun) asset and positional value. When the quality of connections deepens, the strength of the network expands.

The good news is that we now know exactly how to help people and networks develop their capacities for generative value.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Reframing Obesity Through Network Weaving

In his July 25th post, Valdis mentioned the social network mapping of obesity networks in The New England Journal of Medicine paper by Nicholas A. Christakis and James H. Fowler.

One of the most intriguing observations in the paper is that it was not seeing obeisty-related behavior shifts in their friendship networks that correlated with the spread of obesity, but shifts in norms! An infuential person in the friendship network started reframing the groups' attitude about obesity and related topics (eating habits, etc) and this created a dynamic of such power that it's impact shot out 3 steps (to friends of friends of friends).

This has incredible implications for obesity reduction efforts. Working with a network of local organizations, researchers, and foundations, can we identify some key individuals in a set of friendship networks that are ready to change, and help them form a group that would consciously help their networks reframe obesity? These key individuals would be network weavers, helping to build healthier networks.

I think the work of the Frameworks Institute could be very helpful. This group identifies current frameworks and then helps groups create new frameworks that enable individuals to move from those existing frameworks to new, more healthy ones.

Baboon sustainability

"So important are these social skills that it is females with the best social networks, not those most senior in the hierarchy, who leave the most offspring."

From today's Science section in the NY Times

Monday, October 08, 2007

What do you see?

This is a symbolic progression of generative relationships in part of a network. I like to use it to sharpen people's sense making about networks as they grow.

The etiquette of introductions

There is an etiquette to connecting with people we don't know (people in our 2nd and 3rd circles). In conversation with June and Valdis, I find out they know all kinds of people who are potentially interesting or important to me. I don't know how I fit into the world of these relationships they have built trust equity with.

It becomes a matter of courtesy, and core to our trust together, to let them know my intentions to connect with people in their close circles who they have revealed to me. They reveal their cherished connections because they trust that I will act in ways that honor their relationships and ours.

The best scenario is that they make the introductions they feel comfortable making. Of course, this can't apply when I have an accidental conversation with one of their close circle people, only realizing later that we have June's or Valdis' mutual trust in common.

In so-called "social network websites" where I can view someone's "736 closest friends" and start instantly connecting with/spamming them, I am violating introduction etiquette and risking the integrity and continuity of trust in all of the relationships involved.

Every introduction is an act of trust and trustworthiness. If I introduce you to one of my trusted friends or colleagues, it is in trust, that I am making a trustworthy introduction relative to the trust equity in our relationship.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Women leaders

Breakfast conversation today with two amazing women who are innovating in building and connecting intentional communities in Africa and here in the states. I’m helping them use social network science to do this work. We were talking about their experience of being outcasts as leaders in traditional religious communities when male hierarchies dominate.

It raises the question of when are we going to start realizing the legitimacy of women as leaders? When will be start to understand that authentic leadership is the fusion of divine feminine and divine masculine energies? When we become conscious about leadership, we will no longer make gender generalizations about leadership. On that day, women will be embraced for their creativity and men for their sensitivity. On that day, we will finally understand that leadership is a relationship, not a role.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Network Maps In Practice

You may have seen the recent stories in the New York Times that described the wonderful successes of the Pittsburgh Veterans Administration in decreasing the prevalence of the penicillin resistant staph infection (MRSA) that has been responsible for the deaths of perhaps 100,000 patients nationwide. What the story didn’t describe is that much of the lower rates were due to a strategy called Positive Deviance that encourages staff to work across roles to generate dozens of small actions that together bring about reduced rates. Housekeeping staff, in particular, began working with nursing staff on new cleaning strategies, innovative ways to deal with potentially contaminated gowns, etc

Working for Plexus Institute, I recently completed a project mapping and analyzing 4 units in the VAPHS and comparing the network metrics for each unit with the MRSA transmission rates. Read the full report here. We collected surveys from MRSA and nursing staff, who answered a set of questions: “Who did you work with on MRSA prevention strategies prior to the beginning of this Positive Deviance MRSA initiative? Who are you working with now? Who would you like to work with on MRSA prevention projects in the coming year?”

The results were fascinating! The unit with the lowest transmission rate had a network pattern distinctly different from the unit with a high transmission rates. The least successful unit (see the red nodes in the map above) was centralized and isolated. Individuals in the most successful unit (see the greeen nodes in the map), in contrast, were more evenly connected to each other and well-connected to a wide range of outside resources. Nursing was collaborating with the housekeeping staff, ward clerks and even patients in their efforts. Just imagine how the quality of health care could improve if we were able to spark this same innovative and collaborative environment in all hospital settings!

We are hoping to implement network mapping in several other hospitals, mapping at the start of the MRSA prevention project and using the results to move the hospital much more quickly to the kind of Smart Network that encourages effective innovation.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Conscious Becoming, excerpt


Look at the history of any culture or nation,
and find that whole groups and communities
can be collectively conscious or unaware.

And it only takes a small group
of conscious people to
transform collective unawareness.
It’s happened before,
it will happen again and again.

With no representatives or voting,
thousands of small,
individual and collective acts
of conscious people with faith in their gifts
give shape to a world
worthy of everyone’s trust and respect.

When people are conscious,
without imposed rules or consensus,
they know how to create beauty together.

I'm back

This is my prodigal return to the NetWeaving blog, post promise to Valdis and June in our agreement to step up our engagement here. The only excuse for my absence that I like is my being otherwise pre, and post, occupied with my 6th book that is now launched ( and has already won great fanhood from Valdis and my close friends whose unconditional love makes it impossible to know if they really like it, or they're just about the love.

So back to the matter at hand. My social network focus has been and will continue to be on the quality of connections in networks. Valdis and June are genius at the questions of who's now connected and about what and who could and should be connected and about what.

My interest in client projects is all about building the right kind of trust, abundance perspective, and strengths engagement that allows high quality connections. It's actually the embryonic focus that sparked my consulting and coaching career 30 years ago when I was doing my thesis research on the phenomenology of conversations in interpersonal systems. So my place in the June-Valdis lineup is third in the batting order. Once people are connected to the right people for the right purposes, I help them get and stay smarter together - which is the natural byproduct of trust, abundance perspective, and the mutual engagement of strengths. In the civic space and organizations, these are competencies to be developed.

Feels good to be back. More later. Promise.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

A lost link...

Steve "Habib" Rose
Nov. 12, 1957 - Sept. 26, 2007

Habib, our friend and colleague, passed away yesterday.

He was the biggest fan of this blog, a blogger himself, and often commented on our posts. He worked with June on several projects and was one of our most excited and motivated students of network mapping. He was a true network weaver, and we will miss him in many ways.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Ingenuity Festival - July 19-22 - Cleveland, Ohio
Innovation happens at the intersection... of two or more different, yet similar, groups.


  • one technology meets another
  • one discipline meets another
  • one department meets another
  • one network meets another
  • one neighborhood meets another
  • the forest meets the meadow
  • the ocean meets the shore.

The intersection of Art and Technology will be highlighted at Cleveland's Ingenuity Festival next week. Art, dance, music, theater and technology remixed through a long weekend: July 19th - 22nd.

I was first introduced to the intersection of art and technology many years ago when a client told me, after a long examination of a social network map of his organization, that my network diagrams reminded him of Jackson Pollock paintings! I took that as a compliment, and the art/tech seed was planted for me. Hmmm... I thought... analytic data visualizations as art... could be!

As a prelude to the Ingenuity Festival, Cleveland State University is holding a public forum on Creativity and Technology. Come hear more about Innovation at the Intersections!

UPDATE: For a more detailed examination of Innovation at the Intersections come hear Ed Morrison and Valdis Krebs at the Synergy Speaker's Forum, Saturday, July 21st @ Noon during the Ingenuity Festival.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Companion Planting

Attended the Defrag conference at Lorain County Community College [LCCC] these past two days. What a wonderful facility LCCC has!

Just like the last Defrag, I had an ah-ha moment at this one. This moment came from one of the other attendees -- Soren H. We were discussing connections in regional economies after my presentation. He said, "I think what we need is something akin to 'companion planting', after all isn't an economy a lot like an ecosystem?" Economy = Ecosystem? Sure! "But what is companion planting?" I inquired. He explained that it is a concept from organic gardening -- plants can benefit from having certain other plants close by in the garden. You can create the right mix to benefit the whole garden.

Of course! An economy that has the right mix of connected talent will work in the same way. Each benefits from having the other nearby resulting in creative combinations and win-win scenarios while the garden/economy benefits the most from the combinations and connections.

Which combinationations and connections are best for your regional economy?

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Network Weavers in Action

The most exciting part of my consulting this last year has been realizing how many "natural" network weavers are already at work in communities and organizations. Listening to their stories, I'm discovering on a much deeper level what it means to be a network weaver.

For example, Jon Lloyd was trying to tackle MRSA, the deadly resistent staph infection that has been spreading through hospital systems. As a type of network weaver we call an Innovation Seeker, Jon went looking beyond the usual sources for insights that would help hospitals in Western Pennsylvania deal with MRSA. He found a Fast Company article that told about the Sternin's, a couple that had developed a strategy called Postitive Deviance in their efforts to end starvation among children in Vietnam. It helps organizations identify what's working and then enables people to self-organize to experiment and spread successes. He also pulled in staff of Plexus Institute, which is helping people apply complexity theory to solve intractable problems.

Quite a leap from MRSA to Vietnam and complexity science--but that's what Innovation Seekers do: they see connections and patterns in unlikely places. The application of Positive Deviance in this new setting has dramatically lowered MRSA rates in the Pittsburgh Veterans Administration Hospital System in just over a year. In addition, it's unleashing the creativity of housekeeping staff and patients, who are coming up with many of the most powerful solutions!

For more on the Pittsburgh experiments, see the latest issue of Emerging at Plexus Institute's site.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Speaking of trust

Thought leader, entrepreneur and management academic, Karen Stephenson, talks about the “quantum theory of trust” in organizations, which reflects that the collective cognitive abilities of organizations depends on the presence of trust in its networks of relationships.

As she says, “People have at their very fingertips, at the tips of their brains, tremendous amounts of tacit knowledge, which are not captured in our computer systems or on paper. Trust is the utility through which this knowledge flows.”

Or one might say, people who don’t share trust are less intelligent together; people who share trust are smarter together.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Earned and unearned trust

When we're helping build trust in network relationships, we need to work from two distinctions: earned and unearned trust.

Unearned trust has to do with like and likeness. We naturally trust people like us and people we like. Closing triangles in ways that builds trust means helping people quickly find reasons to like each other and find ways in which they are already similar - in tastes, likes and dislikes, passions, perspectives, agendas, experience, values, and so on.

Earned trust has to do with making and keeping promises. Help people make and keep promises early on in order to help earned trust equity build.

After all, trust is the basis of speed and creativity.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The happiness/unhappiness continuum

Valdis and I have been having this conversation about the quality of relational transactions in networks. We're thinking outside the usual box of the continuum from win-win to lose-lose. In any set of transactions, there are 6 possible outcomes.

A. Happy-Happy: both of us are happy with the outcomes
B. Happy-Tolerably unhappy: one of us is happy while the other is unhappy at acceptable levels
C. Tolerably unhappy-Tolerably unhappy: both of us unhappy at acceptable levels
D. Happy-Intolerably unhappy: one of us is happy while the other is happy at unacceptable levels
E. Tolerably unhappy-Intolerably unhappy: one of us unhappy at acceptable levels while the other is unhappy at unacceptable levels
F. Intolerably unhappy-Intolerable unhappy: both of us are unhappy at unacceptable levels

Obviously, A is the best outcome. B and C are OK in the short run or occasionally but in the long run cannot support the relationship. D, E, and F are to be avoided because they are unsustainable in the short and long run.