This is part of an occasional series on network design.
Successful networks grow into a (nearly) self-sustaining cycle. That’s what gives them the staying power and benefits that emerge out of networks. A self-sustaining cycle like the water cycle.
Networks work best when they foster a cycle of member generosity, reciprocity, mutual benefits, and natural alliances, all emerging out of and reinforcing personal relationships. That’s like the cycle of precipitation, runoff, plant uptake and transpiration, and other water flows in the water cycle. In this comparison, members are water molecules, moving independently through the cycle as energy and occasion warrants, interacting with other water molecules as well as the outside world (soil, plants, fish).
Networks will always take energy inputs to keep the system moving. The sun and gravity put energy into the water cycle, enabling evaporation, transpiration, wind, streams, and lakes. In a network context, network leaders or support staff are the sun and gravity putting energy into the network-system to keep things going.
Network design is critical to a network’s success. A network leader challenge is remembering the network isn’t most people’s first priority, and it shouldn’t be. I use these two principles to help me remember, members’ needs come first. That said, the network’s need are important, too, and both need to be built into the puzzle-pieces of network activities. read more