Suppose for a minute that there’s this country with a government comprised largely of an old boys’ network from the same schools, universities and degrees. Crazy, but just suppose.
That’s the kind of scenario that (rightly) gives networks get a bad rep.
But inside a company, networks can create real strength. Where we create multiple and overlapping networks, we benefit not just from cognitive and cultural diversity, but we end with thicker bonds within our teams that are at once stronger and more fluid.
When we were in scale-up – going from 60 to around 300 – I focussed a lot of time and energy fostering networks within the organisation. Around areas of interest or of practice. Coaches and coachees. Mentors and mentees. Social groups. Project teams.
Some dissolved away before they’d even started. Others have outlived the company by over a decade.
But in creating a fertile ground and support for networks, we ended up building strength and depth as we grew, fostering innovation, and creating many productive connections where otherwise they might not have existed.
So if as you scale, you want to create organisational strength, look for ways and opportunities to spawn and support different types of formal and informal networks. Done well, it will pay back both commercial and cultural rewards.
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