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People are the nodes

Some of the good reasons, why we should participate in events with speakers or facilitators we already known from social networks, is that we can broaden our perspective and knowledge of the work of those people.

I had the opportunity to meet personally Tim Kastelle at ECCI XII – Faro last week, after more than a year of connection via twitter (@ timkastelle) and after reading his blog “Innovation Leadership Network”. Tim is the extraordinary person that I suspected to be and that I confirmed in our small conversations during the event, where openness, simplicity and sensitivity were well represented.

On the afternoon of the first day of the event I chose to participate in “Managing Networks to Improve Innovation”, and I must confess that I did it more, with the intention to meet Tim as a person, than to avidly absorb a lot of information.

This was the intention!

The result was far beyond what I expected because the way the work was exposed and the momentum achieved with about twenty participants from many points of the globe have led to a profound sharing of concepts and methodologies.

One of the fundamental bases of Tim Kastelle’s work is, as he himself explained, the contact with the outside world, i.e. with the space where action develops. In innovation the key is to execute the ideas and we will only do so if we know and prepared the environment (networks of an organization) where such implementation is going to happen in order not only to create value but also making it accessible to many people.

“Innovation happens in networks!”

According to Tim Kastelle, if we seek to manage innovation within an organization (environment) is easier to be effective if we understand how networks work. For this we need to do an analysis of how networks work and try to understand how people connect with each other and how the knowledge is shared between them.

This methodology used by Tim Kastelle not only allows us to detect the flow of information, but also to verify if there are people who do not have connections, and from there try to establish procedures so that they can be improved or reworked. This analysis seems to me to be extremely useful when you have differentiated physical and distant spaces where the physical contact of persons does not exist and therefore needs a more understanding facilitated by observation of maps.

When we map, through information collected by one or several questionnaires we determine who are the people (nodes) with more connections and in which direction they are established.

Tim Kastelle presented a map (a problem-solving network) where people are the nodes (red from one location and green from another), that shows well how these networks can operate and that despite being a powerful tool for analysis does not cease to be a work of art.

I think that this methodology can lead us to a clarification of the communication processes, distinguishing between the informal and formal process and which is the relevance of each of them in the way people innovate. Everything will depend on the type of questions, but it seems to me that the mapping communication flows can also help in conflict resolution of the innovation teams.

Is there room for informal leadership within these groups of innovators?

To what extent the decision-making in these networks is a purely formal and consequent act?

From the analysis of the data represented in the maps we can begin to raise questions to understand what the real participation of people in the projects they are involved in or trying to understand why A or B that eventually we believe with special talent to a project is not a part of that project.

Is it possible to start thinking mapping the connections when we talk about open innovation?

To what extent mapping is useful in resolving conflicts that hinder the pace of implementation desired?

If a person is an important node in the innovation process, which is the result caused by his disappearance of the network?

The connections have a cost to organizations and so it seems to be easy to understand that good management of the networks not only allows the development of a climate of satisfaction as makes it easy to change when necessary within organizations.

“Managing the networks structure often leads to rapid changes in performance.”

Thanks Tim Kastelle for this opportunity of learning and reflection.