Networks and networking are key to our success as humans. Neural networks in our brains enable us to apply knowledge and skills to problem solving, creativity and decision-making. Relationship networks enable successful and productive interactions with the world which we, and our business, are part of. At a business level, our business intelligence is central to our ability to evolve our corporate competitive advantage.
Leaders fail to recognise the power of networks. They don’t focus on improving their ability to build both their neural networks and their relationship networks. Nor do they recognise the power of networking.
The following video talks about network thinking. It asserts the importance of a return to a polymathic approach: the need to know a little about everything. The benefits include the enabling of innovative partnerships, shared ethical and moral principles and collective intelligence.
What else do you need to know about the power of networks & networking?:
- You can grow your neural networks. Neuroplasticity refers to the ability of the brain to be changed via behaviour, thought processes and your environment. At MyNeuroCoach we use ‘think different to do better’ and ‘do better to think different’ interchangeably. This recognises how behaviour and thought processes can change the structure of the brain. Focusing on the growth of new skills and investing in personal learning & development – particularly when action-focused – all drive the growth of your neural networks.
- Your collective neural networks are your competitive advantage. Your competitive advantage refers to your ability to make profit (or investable/ distributable surplus for non-profits) as an organisation, relative to competitors. This is because competitive advantage comes from your differentiated competencies vs. competitors. The ability to differentiate via buy-able competencies which give even medium term competitive advantage is reducing. Technology becomes more open and costs fall. Specialists care less about career tenure and can be bought. Even sophisticated production and supply chain networks can be accessed on a piecemeal basis. This leaves you with the the brains of your people working together as a collective neural network to achieve your mission. Motivating your teams and getting people across your organisation to work together becomes one of your main leadership challenges.
- Your opportunity lies in The Connection Economy. Seth Godin in The Icarus Deception describes how in the connection economy ‘the value we create is directly related to how much valuable information we can produce, how much trust we can earn, and how often we innovate’.
This is important because, ‘connections scale, information begets more information, and influence accrues to those who create this abundance’.
- We’re going back to our roots. Our move into the connection or network economy is an interesting evolution. We get more sophisticated at using tools we developed at the start of our evolutionary path. This cooperation with other humans gave us our competitive advantage over other species.
- Future wealth is personal and not organizational. Although your collective neural networks are your competitive advantage, another leadership challenge is that no organizational wealth is really created. Information, insight and know-how becomes a rapidly depreciating asset that you can only temporarily leverage before needing more investment of excellent minds working together. In Superconnect, Richard Koch and Greg Lockwood argue that the Superconnectors (the wealthy of the future) have developed the weak links between the multiple strong hubs which have enabled mankind to progress to date. These links are:
personal alliances – easily formed, constantly shifting, nearly always non-contractual – based on casual friendship, empathy and millions of unrecorded favours granted and reciprocated’
As a leader you are accountable for recognising the power of networks, and the importance for your business of building both neural networks and relationship networks.
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