How work gets done: Social networks in practice

The Hidden Power of Social Networks (by Rob Cross and Andrew Parker) is the Book of the Month.

In the Manufacturing Economy (1850 to 1950), where you were located mattered because stuff was heavy. Being near an airport, a highway, or a river was a key part of an economic development strategy. In the Information Economy (1950 to 2000), what you had mattered. What kind of technology you had--computers, networking equipment--often created a competitive edge, especially in the last ten years of that era.

In the Knowledge Economy, many goods and services are weightless--software, music, and videos can be delivered over the Internet, among many other services and products. Location is less important, and if you don't already the computers and networking stuff, your business is dead or nearly so. So what counts in the Knowledge Economy?

In the Knowledge Economy, we are awash in an ocean of information. We can't possibly absorb all of it. It flows into our computers in an ever-increasing torrent. It is now impossible to master any field of study; there is simply too much to know. Collaboration is fast becoming not just a nice thing to do, but a business and organizational necessity. To survive and prosper, you have to have a trusted network of associates, peers, and colleagues to whom you can direct questions and get answers.

In the Knowledge Economy, who you know is what matters, not where you are or what kind of technology you have.

Having said that, developing and maintaining a network of reliable colleagues is hard work--but with a big payoff. This book delves into why these networks are effective, how to set them up, and how to maintain them. It is thoughtful and well-written, and mildly academic in style, but the chapters are short and to the point. Reading this book won't put you to sleep. I think it is well worth a read.

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