Conference Notes

Notes on Jeffrey Stamps and Jessica Lipnack, "It's All About Networks: Collaborating in the Transparent Enterprise"

Steve introduced the fifth session of the day, featuring Jeffrey Stamps (Chief Scientists) and Jessica Lipnack (CEO) of NetAge, Inc. They’ve been writing about virtual teams and virtual networks for 25 years … so it was great to have them here. Jessica is also on the Advisory Board for the conference.

Key talking points:

  • When talking about “networks”, we’re talking about the people side of collaboration. Networks is a concept that is useful for us personally and professionally.
  • At the end of the 1970s, Jessica and Jeff wrote a book on networks, to try and understand what happened to the ideals of the 1960s. They used letters to reach out to people, and within 18 months, had 50,000 names. Wrote to 4,000 of the groups / people, and got a 40% response rate for people they’d never met. They published the book, “Networking”, in 1982. It was about non-profits and individuals, but the corporations / governments / organizations were the ones who were interested.
  • A brief history of organizations … from small groups, to hierarchies, to bureaucracies, to networks. The tipping point to networks happened in the mid-90s.
  • See networks through the eyes of people. We’re the network. The network is our social relationships, the organizations are networks … networks are nodes linked for a common purpose. Nodes can be people, positions, expertise, and more. The transition we’re seeing is that organizations are becoming more networks.
  • The new vocabulary of networks … it’s just a matter of scale, but they’re all just networks … virtual teams (small groups of people), teamnets (networks of teams), organization networks (all large-scale human networks), networks of organizations (the external connections among organizations working in common pursuit), communities of practice (people learning together and exchanging information related to their practices / expertise), and social networks (connections on the basis of personal relationships).
  • Four networks weave the enterprise … (1) the organization network — my position, (2) working networks — my job, (3) knowledge networks — my topics, and (4) social networks — my friends. The first two are public networks, the second two are private.
  • The four common network principles … purpose (why?), links (how?), time (when?), nodes (who?). These are the four key words … you can use these to self-correct if the organizational dynamic is not working. Can use this model for designing workplace materials, to structure online spaces, to assess virtual team behaviors, and more. The four common ideas provide consistency when working in online spaces, and when shifting between different online tools.
  • There are six key virtual team behaviors. These behaviors of virtual teams are consistent across multiple types of collaboration tools.
  • Stop trying to get real-time communications as good as face-to-face meetings. Jeffrey says that it will never happen. The real step up is the asynchronous communication and collaboration tools.
  • Key question: how do we coordinate local actions for global good? There are many links that connect teams, but we need to see teams and their relationships in the content of the whole organization.
  • Per E.M.Forster, “only connect”. Paul Levy from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and blogger of Running a Hospital is doing great Web 2.0 things, eg, publicly publishing metrics.
  • One of the early people Jeffrey and Jessica interviewed was Robert Muller, and he wrote a poem for their Networking book entitled Decide to Network.

See Jessica’s blog at Endless Knots.

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