Increasing Your Leverage into Networks

The power of a network is found in its core and periphery.  As we explored in a previous blogpost, the power networks have over resource hierarchies is that they are strengthened by the same push and pull, from the core to the periphery, that tears apart resource hierarchies.  Network power increases with the strengthening of the core and the periphery, while resource power comes from the strengthening of the core or the periphery.

In most networks, the relationships to the core and the periphery are usually assumed to be static, fixed.  There is either a relationship between two nodes, or there is not.  A recent paper in Science magazine, titled “The Fundamental Advantages of Temporal Networks” suggests that most relationships between nodes in networks are not static, rather that they vary of time.  For temporal networks, where the relationships between are sometimes active and sometimes not, paying attention to the links that are active greatly increases the effectiveness of a network intervention.  From an ecosynomic perspective, this suggests that it is valuable to pay attention to the experience of vibrancy people are having, which is connecting them or not, and the continuity power of being connected to the deeper shared purpose.  Co-hosting this experience brings out the most relevant, activated links in the network, leveraging the capacity of the network to scale impact faster, at a much lower cost, the definition of high leverage.

The strength of a network is in its scalability, the number of nodes the core can support, and in its speed of transmission.  These factors enable networks to have far greater impact.  However, as the core and periphery of the network strengthen, the purpose of the network often begins to crystallize. In many networks, the focus becomes the health of the network itself.  It becomes about the network.  However, if a network is temporal and not static, the focus shifts, from pushing strongly on relationships that are assumed to be static (a high-energy push), to a continuous inquiry through relationships that are assumed to be temporal (continuity-powered relevant pathways of contribution). The focus is about the pathways of relationships that manifest an impact, not the network in its own right.  This shift in focus leads to faster transmission through the network of relationships with far less energy.  The Science article finds anecdotal data, explained through a mathematical model, that supports this idea.