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Author: Patti Anklam

Publisher: ButterHeinem ST

ISBN: Mick Yates

Summary:If you have never picked up a book on networks, and how they impact everything we (organizationally) do - then pick this one up

 

 

Leader Values

ISBN: 978-07506 82978


If you have never picked up a book on networks, and how they impact everything we (organizationally) do - then pick this one up.

 

Since Walter Powell differentiated between "Hierarchies, Markets and Networks", and we all discovered that we are within 6 degrees of each other, networks have fascinated. Yet the understanding of how they work has only gradually become clearer in recent years.

 

Patti Anklam has written a thorough yet very clear book, leading the reader step by step through the science and the implications of modern network theory. The book divides into purpose, structure, style and value of networks.

 

Anklam almost makes a sales person's "pitch" for why you should take networks seriously. They can help speed knowledge transfer, boost innovation, help nurture alliances and drive quality. Why wouldn't we all take networks seriously?

 

She discusses structure in two essential ways - how to "govern" and "lead' networks, and also how they are constructed (hubs, links, strong and weak ties - where weak ties are essential to new knowledge). And she talks about style, defined, for example by whether the network is outcome or discovery driven: transactional or personal/social and so forth. One niggle - I do wish she'd spent more time exploring the emerging science of scale free networks, in which the rich get richer by gaining the most connections (think Google).

 

Showing a sympathetic understanding for the science of networks, Anklam unpacks how we might actually consider designing networks to build value - defined as social capital, as opposed to the more traditional human capital. She stresses the combinatorial impact of connecting people together rather than simply considering their unique value. And the discussion on how to design for emergence is fascinating and helpful for practitioners.

 

I might add that the book's use of a complex systems lens is also useful in helping think about how communication and ideas flows through the network.

 

Anklam's essential thesis boils down to a belief that networks are mappable, and, once described they can be managed / led to create generative results - a view that I share. A focus on Social Network Analysis is key, as it is in many ways a precursor to a broader Organizational Network Analysis approach which seeks to establish innovation flows and so on. After all, as Anklam points out, how can you really analyze an Organizational Network if the trust between individuals at a social level is missing?

 

Perhaps my suggestion for follow up work would be in the arena of "distributed leadership", which is touched upon in the section on leadership of networks, but not fully developed. How does leadership move around the network, depending on the context and need, the sharing of values - and the expertise and skill of everyone in the network? How do leaders know where the expertise is, and how actionable it could be? We thus need further understanding of what it means to be a leader in these networked organizational forms.

 

That said, this is an excellent book suitable for readers of all kinds and expertise.

 


Copyright 2007 Mick Yates