Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Two types of networks: ideas and action

Andrew Revkin posted a lengthy but quite intriguing commentary from Andrew Hargadon, a University of California, Davis, researcher focused on the roots of innovation. Essentially, Hargadon says that innovation needs to move through two types of networks: ideas networks and action networks. I will admit that I am firmly in the ideas networks realm.

Hargadon notes that an idea has to go through a process of evolution and change. This is the idea network where one collects a variety of ideas and even shares his/her ideas with others to create better ideas. In many organizations, that’s where it stops, right after the brainstorming session. If it doesn’t get pushed into the next network, the idea remains just that – and idea.

This is where action networks kick in. Work gets assigned, supplies are bought, people are hired, products are manufactured, strategies are implemented, etc. In other words, action starts to take place. This is also a different group of people in many organizations or communities.

It is this key transition that makes the difference between idea and reality. When you start thinking of new ideas, start thinking of who is going to be part of your action network. Who will help you make your ideas a reality. It is this second vision that makes good leaders great leaders.

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