I am a ‘how person’. Process and method thinking are my passion. To me it is natural to think on meta level about the opportunities and the value of networked learning. I am convinced that thinking about networks is no luxury. Some basic knowledge what makes a network a network, what glues a network together and how knowledge based transactions are made, helps to see and use the opportunities of networks for discovery and learning.
The basics each networker should grasp
Networks are woven
Networks are relationships. Networks are made of people and connections. People are the network.
Human networks are more difficult to build than computer networks. Computers require the same data routing protocol to connect and start communicating, while humans require the difficult and messy social routing protocol of trust.
Let’s take the Swiss Knowledge Management Think Table, a community of practice of peers, as example. This network is strongly knitted. It exists since more than 10 years. Its strength is the social fabric of relationships that are constantly renewed. Newcomers are welcomed and integrated. Members care about the network, take the lead and keep the network alive through their engagement. The glue holding the Knowledge Management Think Table together is trust and shared leadership.
The more open the pattern of connections and the more receptive the individuals in the network are to using those connections and creating new ones, the more serendipitous encounters are likely to occur along with the daily transactions.”
So what? What does that mean for me as networker?
As engaged networker I connect and help weaving the network by connecting others.
In networks knowledge and information is flowing
The better people are linked the faster the information circulates. The denser the network the smoother the information flows. Networks not only spread information, information is also selected, digested, and presented. Networks are predestinated to reach out and bring diversity thinking to the table (or the platform). My engagement with the Knowledge Management Think Table allows to have access to diverse experiences and resources.
Through my Twitter stream, blog reader and mailing lists I sometimes find real treasures: A n idea that makes me think. A drawing that visualizes an idea in a simple and convincing way. A guideline I didn’t know it would exist. Observing what is happening and what is discussed is inspiring. Asking the network for feedback can be real productive. And sometimes it is just serendipity, a chance encounter, when ideas come together.
As engaged networker I observe the net, I listen and I engage by asking questions.
Networks are a privileged space to share and learn
Interaction is the network’s work. In a world where information is everywhere and easily accessible the challenge is not to find relevant information but interpret the information. What we need is space and people interested to join the conversation to make sense of what is happening. The process of seeking information, making sense of information and sharing insights is nicely framed and explained by Harold Jarche in his Personal Knowledge Mastery (PKM) framework: seek – sense – share; I have blogged about it before.
Connect. Find and involve others that you can bring into conversations or pieces of work. Not always because they have the answers but sometimes because of their unique point of view – they may just solve the problem or provide a unique alternative solution.
As engaged networker I practice my seek-sense-share routine: I share my insights; I seek information and join others for meaningful conversations.
So what do you say, is making time for network thinking a luxury or not?
- Trust, the essential ingredient in networks
- There is a magic glue that holds networks together: shared value
- Nodes and links, the fabric networks are made of