To fundamentally advance the network mindset people must first understand what a network is. Unfortunately, most all the discussion about social networks concerns conventional ‘pop’ media, proximate relationships, and popular social network services. These have little or nothing to do with understanding networks or creating an authentic network mindset.
There is simply no way to achieve any degree of network comprehension or fluency without the basics. For example, totally absent from the popular network conversation are the basic principles of social networks such as structural holes, cohesion, weak ties, centrality, equivalence, betweenness, emergence, small worlds, degree, patterns, resilience, flow, prestige, subsidiarity, reciprocity, etc.
While people’s motives are genuine, there is no apparent or useful competency in routine network principles, awareness, visualization or optimization. Trying to advance a network mindset and practices without the elemental concepts is just plain impossible. Some compare current network thinking to Victorian-era surgical practices…
That’s the bad news. The good news is that it is easy, quick and straightforward to gain a very effective working knowledge of networks. Network visualization, a network map, for example, has an immediate impact on the network mindset. When people see an empirical map of their networks it immediately changes their thinking. Seeing is believing, as the saying goes. In a moment they develop the essential cognitive bias to networks.
There is more good news. People don’t need to be graph theory (network math) scholars or network geeks to achieve immediate gains from network metrics. Just a basic understanding of centrality, for example, creates sharp improvements in community effectiveness, influencer networks and purposeful ecologies.
Striving to achieve an network mindset is absolutely critical and a noble activity. Businesses, cause-based organizations and mission-oriented people will gain incalculable benefits from the network mindset. By far the best way to achieve the network transformation is to seek out existing practitioners and to connect with accomplished network leaders.
For the most part, the scholarly and academic side of networks is best avoided because it is overly pedantic and is research focused. For example, the sole mission of the Colabria Action Research Networks is to propel fundamental advancements in network thinking, comprehensions, visualization, optimization and practical mastery for business leaders.
Recall, the network mindset is natural. Our natural worlds, from DNA to the cosmos, are all networks. Networks have specific immutable properties. Basic fluency in key network principles will advance people and organizations to achieve greater impact and positive outcomes overall.
“Look deep into nature, then you will understand everything better.”