Our own network of connections and relationships (often referred to as our ‘Social Capital’) is equally invisible to many of us, much of the time. It represents the efforts and value that we have invested through our rich history of friendships, colleague relationships, hard-earned trust and mutual support. It is a store of connections that hold real value, value that we can drawn upon and reinvest in order to achieve some of our toughest objectives, develop some of our most innovative solutions and survive some of the most difficult challenges that pepper our lives.
Each person’s network of connections is unique. When woven into those of our colleagues, partners, suppliers and clients the resultant ‘web’ of connections is one of the most powerful, yet under-utilised resources within an organisation. If these connections are at best unfocused and implicit in our own minds – our collective networks are rarely shared, mapped or discussed when grappling with how best to deliver outcomes that are critical to our individual, team and organisational success.
Evidence shows the real benefits of helping individuals and groups to actively engage with their network, firstly by mapping and visualising its current state and then expanding, developing and strengthening it in ways that will make it more fit for purpose. Like the spider spinning its web – this requires both art and science.
Tools and techniques have been developed for mapping networks and identifying their underlying structure so that they can be visualised and understood. But it is also now recognised that the real value of networks is unlocked through the personal engagement, open sharing, debate and discussion that are stimulated when the network becomes visible and tangible. Through facilitation, supported action planning and constructive challenge we can help individuals (often within a coaching session) or senior teams (within facilitated discussions) to work deliberately and creatively with their networks
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