A network orientation to business is an enormous paradigm shift. Mastery of business ecosystems though precise, empirical network intelligence and comprehensive network analytics is akin to Apollo 8 seeing the earthrise from the moon for the first time.
It changes everything. What Apollo 8 did for humanity is show that the Earth is a system.
That’s a serious message to all business leaders: develop a profound mastery of your networks and business ecologies to achieve continuous growth and prosperity.
Too often, business is saddled with legacy process practices. The yoke of hierarchy often diminishes innovation and well-being. The unfortunate tendency of business is to do more and more of the same… and get less and less. It is the classic and deadly ‘race to the bottom’ phenomenon. We see it all the time in process engineering.
Take away? More reductionism, process analysis, and transactional application engineering is not the solution, it’s the problem.
“The righter you do the wrong thing, the wronger you become. It is better to do the right thing wrong than the wrong thing right.” –Ackoff
The good news is that adopting the network archetype is easy and natural. Recall, most everything in your personal life is organized as a network. The exception is still many business organizations.
20th Century concepts of Taylorism and later Fordism of process engineering, mass production, machinery and unskilled labor, are based on rigid, artificial and linear production models. Even as the social reorientation of work and wealth becomes pervasive, some managers still cling to these philosophies and the command and control orthodoxy.
Meanwhile, networks are a far more natural and social way of thinking and interpreting business, institutions, the environment and civil society.
When leaders first visualize their business as networks it is an epiphany. With even a rudimentary social network analysis of a business unit or department, people have a great ‘a-ha!’ moment. Network maps have prima facie validity – the first time you see it, you get it! Unlike process charts or functional models, networks are self-evident.
For some, the reaction to a network orientation is akin to Meg Ryan’s famous performance at Katz’s Delicatessen – in “When Harry Met Sally.” We like to call it, “When Sally Met Networks.“ When people see what network analytics furnish, they really do say, “I’ll have what she’s having.”