Worknets, social networks and campaign or issue networks all need infrastructure elements that support cohesion, animation and management.
This article is good but it draws some false lines around the difference between organic networks (people like) and managed networks (business like). Additionally, there is not a recognition that the reasons networks form is often to end-run official channels and breakout of defined work groups for ideas, resources and innovation. People vote with their feet and move away from any network that has the wrong balance between investment needed to stay "in" and the value the network provides.
These networks succeeded because the company formed them around focused topics closely related to the way work was carried out at the wells. Management also appointed the networks’ leaders, gave the members training, carefully identified the members of each network across the geographically dispersed company, made technology investments, and sponsored a knowledge-sharing team that collected and disseminated best practices.2
Companies need to build infrastructures to create and support formal networks. Such well-designed and well-supported formal networks remove bottlenecks and take much of the effort out of networking. Rather than forcing employees to go up and down hierarchical chains of command, formal networks create pathways for the natural exchange of information and knowledge. Individual members of networks don’t have to find one another through serendipity.
The challenge for campaigns of 10-500-50,000,000 people is to actually feel out the network health and then choose from the many interventions that create self-sustaining, self-healing, self-directed capacity for cohesion, animation and management.
Those functions are served by a mix of :
cohesion -> social ties, communications grid, common language
animation -> shared story, strong social ties, clarity of purpose and shared resources
management -> network leaders, feedback
Advocacy campaigns and social change efforts need to focus on network capacity of a fractured movement if we are ever going to realize the benefits of our distributed size and strength.