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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Why a Networking Culture Is Important

by Stefan Lindegaard

Why a Networking Culture is ImportantThe reason for creating a networking culture is obvious once you look at the current and future direction of innovation. Let's start by disposing of the myth of the lone genius (the Thomas Edisons and the Alexander Graham Bells of yesteryear) arriving at a breakthrough innovation on his/her own.

This model wasn't true then, and even if it were, it simply does not hold true in today's complex business organizations. Technology and the challenges that must be solved have become so complex that many, perhaps even most, companies can no longer rely solely on their own internal innovation geniuses, no matter how brilliant those people may be.

Innovation is increasingly about having groups of people come together to leverage their diverse talents and expertise to solve multi-faceted challenges that cross multiple disciplines. To make this happen within your organization, and beyond as you move toward open innovation, requires a networking culture that is designed, supported, and modeled by your company's leaders.

Even organizations that are not ready to fully embrace open innovation are finding that employees' mindsets about networking must be stretched as more companies deploy internal R & D functions outside the corporate headquarters and around the world.

Employees start to wonder who should do innovation and where it should take place. Although this is positive, success in such situations depends heavily on the ability of the employees to initiate, solidify, and leverage external relationships.

Another key motivation for setting up networking initiatives is based on the simple fact that the knowledge of any company is inside the heads of the employees. Discovering and distributing this knowledge has always been a challenge, and now, more than ever, the ability to leverage a company's collective knowledge and experience through virtual and face-to-face networks and communities is critical to innovation.

Furthermore, establishing the ability to bring knowledge and potential new innovation insights in from external sources demands a strong networking culture supported and modeled from the top.

In one of my next posts, I will give some advice on how to create a networking culture.

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Stefan Lindegaard is a speaker, network facilitator and strategic advisor who focus on the topics of open innovation, intrapreneurship and how to identify and develop the people who drive innovation.

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Blogger Matt Perez said...

"Let's start by disposing of the myth of the lone genius…"

This is one of the most debilitating myths out there, in my opinion. The sooner we get rid of it, the better.

In the book Group Genius, Sawyer makes the same point at length. His point is that innovation is a social activity and ideas emerge "from a vast network of colleagues."

Looking forward to your next post about how to create a networking culture. That's exactly what we're striving for at Nearsoft. It turns out that the same mindset that's required by our clients leads to a more democratic organization which leads to networking effects.

I am really glad to be witnessing how market forces are leading to the decline of the command-and-control culture.

2:43 PM  
Blogger Ole Kassow said...

Excellent points, Stefan, and thanks for the Sawyer reference, Matt.

Your post begs the question: "How do we create a strong networking culture without wasting our employees' time?" Just as email culture is awful in 99% of all companies so is meeting culture.

What with dispersed organizations we have to rely on technology to reach that "vast network of colleagues". I was very pleased recently when I discovered that INSEAD and Wharton business school in a comprehensive study had concluded that virtual brainstorming, or distributed idea generation (e.g. wikis), outperforms actual face-to-face brainstorming - by quite a factor.

There's a link to the study and mention of the calamities of email in this blog post: http://wp.me/pCt0E-3B I'd be keen to get your comments on that too.

1:43 AM  
Blogger Matt Perez said...


Do you have a reference to the INSEAD study? When talking or writing about this topic it is always more convincing to refer to hard data whenever possible. This study sounds like a good source of such hard data.

thanks -- matt

2:20 PM  
Blogger Matt Perez said...

BTW, I just ran into this quote which I think it's quite fitting to this conversation:

The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie -- deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Belief in myths allows the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.

John F. Kennedy
35th president of US 1961-1963 (1917 - 1963)

2:20 PM  
Blogger Ole Kassow said...


You should be able to download your own copy of the research study from this link http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1082392#%23


3:48 AM  
Blogger Peter Modigliani said...

Great line!: "Innovation is increasingly about having groups of people come together to leverage their diverse talents and expertise to solve multi-faceted challenges that cross multiple disciplines."

I plan to quote you in an Enterprise 2.0 presentation I'm giving soon.

4:50 AM  

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