The Age of the Network

Organizing Principles for the 21st Century

by Jessica Lipnack and Jeffrey Stamps

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Chapter titles
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Published by John Wiley & Sons in 1994, paperback in 1996.



"Collaborative advantage is the wave of the future. Lipnack and Stamps show how to catch that wave and ride it triumphantly. With memorable wit and wisdom, their book provides numerous valuable lessons for the challenging changes ahead: how to see further by sitting on boundaries, organize teams that really get something done, and loosen hierarchies without losing control."

Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Harvard Business School Author of When Giants Learn to Dance and The Change Masters

"A great book on how to go about building a strong and entangled web of relationships--person-to-person or organization-to-organization. It shows, using brilliant examples of success, just how to add network structure while preserving the best elements of tried-and-true styles, e.g. hierarchical and bureaucratic. Learn how to connect, catalyze, and create teams that work at whole new levels of capability. It's already proven successful in reinventing government and can make a world of difference in businesses large and small."

Dr. Harry J. Saal, President and CEO Smart Valley, Inc.

"A very stimulating, visionary account of how networks and networking are organizational structures and processes of the future."

Edgar Schein, Sloan Fellows Professor of Management Emeritus MIT, Sloan School of Management

"Networking-practical and down to earth, easily understood descriptions of how others have obtained a competitive edge."

William R. Johnson, General Manager, Networking Hardware Division, IBM

"In our business at The Acacia Group, the concepts of shared leadership, trust, cross-functional teams, and networks are major catalysts to achieving competitive advantage. The principles found in The Age of the Network are right on."

Charles T. Nason, Chairman and CEO, The Acacia Group

"The opportunity of a lifetime-all in one extraordinary book. Common purpose, vision, independence, leadership-the future is at hand. Networks are the vehicle; customer satisfaction is the result."

Gary E. Wheeler, FASID, President, American Society of Interior Designers


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Organizations and managers around the globe are embracing what has been called "horizontal management," the "virtual corporation," and the "modular enterprise." Few companies, however, are enjoying a high degree of success in rapidly reshaping their organizations to meet the challenges of fast-paced change and tenacious competition.

In contrast, The Age of the Network offers leaders, managers, and teams a new, practical view of how to think about their companies and reinvent them without losing the value and knowledge that's embedded in their current organization. Authors Lipnack and Stamps point out that most organizations are trying to grow with a 19th century chassis in a 21st century world. This disconnect has led many leaders to bemoan the difficulties of creating and sustaining nimble, competitive organizations.

Lipnack and Stamps contend that only truly "networked" organizations can move beyond mere survival to consistent success. Based on proven concepts developed by the authors and employed in organizations such as Hyatt Hotels and Malcolm Baldrige award winner Eastman Chemical, The Age of the Network reveals how today's leaderscan create organizations and teams that are defined by speed, agility, and a web of interconnected relationships.

In this new "Age of the Network," organizations can break through impenetrable challenges and recognize entirely new business opportunities through the creation of interlocking, boundary-crossing teams. From Eastman Chemical's "pizza and pepperoni" organization to Al Gore's National Performance Review, leaders are learning the incredible value of creating "links" inside and outside their organizations.

The Age of the Network delivers a rich array of advice and insights for starting the vital process of creating a networked enterprise. Lipnack and Stamps show managers how to focus on five essential teamnet (networks of teams) principles which include establishing a clear purpose and creating communication links. Next, they offer a guided tour describing how organizations can turn these principles into practice and evaluate their real potential for creating a networked organization.

Leaders are challenged to create "islands of trust" through the careful design and development of networked teams. This new "social capital" will be essential to maintaining the critical connections in every networked organization. Lipnack and Stamps also offer a glimpse of the future in the current trends driving change in almost every enterprise. Their advice on navigating rapid change will give leaders new insights on sustaining their networked organizations well into the 21st century.

About the Authors

Jessica Lipnack and Jeffrey Stamps are co-founders and principals of The Networking Institute, a consulting company specializing in organizational networks. Founded in 1982, TNI helps people work together better across boundaries including geographic, organizational, corporate, industrial, and government boundaries. The company has a global reputation for its work with corporate, nonprofit, and grassroots networks. Clients include organizations such as Vice President Gore's National Performance Review, the United Nations, AT&T; Universal Card Services, Hyatt Hotels, KPMG Peat Marwick, CSC Index, Steelcase, The Acacia Group, and British Petroleum Exploration.

Frequently on the speaking podium for groups such as the World Future Society, Jessica and Jeff also co-authored The TeamNet Factor: Bringing the Power of Boundary Crossing Into the Heart of Your Business (Oliver Wight, 1993), The Networking Book: People Connecting with People (Viking Penguin, 1986), and Networking: The First Report and Directory (Doubleday, 1982). Between helping the federal government reinvent itself and conducting highly acclaimed workshops, Jessica and Jeff enjoy their own private network, including two daughters, located in West Newton, Massachusetts.




List of Illustrations


Chapter 1Why Networks? The 30,000-foot View - download pdf

Chapter 2From Nomads to Networks: The Four Ages of Organization

Chapter 3Turning Hierarchy On Its Side: How Smart Organizations Keep the Baby and Throw out the Bath Water

Chapter 4A Pocket Tool for Teamnets: Applying the Five Principles at all Levels

Chapter 5Rx for Monday Morning: Turning Principles Into Practice

Chapter 6The Hinge of History: Assessing Your Teamnet Potential

Chapter 7"Only Connect:" The Imperative of the 21st Century

Chapter 8Social Capital: New Wealth Based on Trust, Reciprocity, and Networks

Chapter 9Networking Trends: A Window to the Future




Extended Contents


List of Illustrations



Chapter 1
Why Networks? The 30,000-foot View

Riding the Transitional Wave

Four Ages of Organization

Organizing Principles Put into Practice

The Difference of Expanding Links

Fasten Your Seat Belt for Take-off


Chapter 2
From Nomads to Networks: The Four Ages of Organization

The 21st Century Bucket Brigade

What's Old, What's New

Network the Organizational Ages

New Ways to Manage

Chapter 3
Turning Hierarchy On Its Side: How Smart Organizations Keep the Baby and Throw out the Bath Water

Eastman : A Teamnet Company

The Inevitable Use of Hierarchy

Thinking the Network Way

Winds of Change

Eastman Turns Hierarchy on its Side

The Four-Dimensional Organization



Chapter 4
A Pocket Tool for Teamnets: Applying the Five Principles at all Levels

Bolting into the Future

Five TeamNet Principles

A Pocket Tool for Teamnets

Up the Organizational Scale

Chapter 5
Rx for Monday Morning: Turning Principles Into Practice

Life-Long Learning

Taking the First Steps

The Five Phases of Flight

Thinking Through the Phases

Chapter 6
The Hinge of History: Assessing Your Teamnet Potential

Reinventing Government with NetResults

Your Teamnet Potential

Size and Scope: The Hierarchy Ruler

Moving to the Next Mach

Social-Technical Networks

Making Your Assessment



Chapter 7
"Only Connect:" The Imperative of the 21st Century

The Internet Worm

Governing the Internet

A Few Hours in the Life of an Online Junkie

All the Way to New York to Buy a Modem

The Social Sciences Meet Networks

"The Coordinator," Starring Mrs. Dewar

The World with all its Complexities and Beauty and Mystery

Chapter 8
Social Capital: New Wealth Based on Trust, Reciprocity, and Networks

Two Paths, Two Societies

New World Regional Advantage

Eastman's Path to Higher Trust

Islands of Trust


Chapter 9
Networking Trends: A Window to the Future

FROM Hierarchy-Bureaucracy TO Team-Networks

Navigating Rapid Change

On Holonomy

Soul Search




"The Network Comes of Age"

The network is coming of age as a mature, useful, and widespread form of organization. Networks have been around for a long time, but now they are moving from the informal to the formal, from dealing with peripheral concerns to engaging the "real work" of getting things done and coping with complexity.

Life has become too much for hierarchy and bureaucracy. With change as the underlying driver, organizations need more speed and flexibility, greater scope and sharper intelligence, more creativity and shared responsibility. Teams offer part of the answer-our collective rediscovery of ancient human knowledge about the power of small groups. Networks-of teams and other groups joined together, which we call teamnets-offer another, newer part of the answer. The rest of the answer to our organizational challenge lies in the accumulated wisdom of hierarchy and bureaucracy, their timeless elements.

Huh? The wisdom of hierarchy?

We feel a little like Nixon going to China for this message:

Don't throw out your hierarchy. Save some bureaucracy.

We have been known as "the networking people" since the publication of Networking: The First Report and Directory, our first book in 1982, the year we founded The Networking Institute. Networks have been our mission, our passion, and our bread-and-butter.

This book puts networks in the context of earlier forms of organization, offering a way to use the new powers of networks together with the best mix of hierarchy, bureaucracy, and small groups.

When we finished the manuscript for The TeamNet Factor just eighteen months ago, we felt strangely unfinished. That book made the case for networks with numerous examples, general principles, practical tools, and exciting possibilities. We still needed to place networks, the emergent form of organization, in a broader and deeper context.

The Age of the Network is the "prequel" to The TeamNet Factor.

Read this book first. It is shorter, has a broader focus, and is more personal, exploring the underpinnings of networks, the links among people, their relationships, and consuming issue of trust. Here, using new examples, we offer an executive summary of the core principles and practices that are expansively detailed in the previous book.

The two books are complements. Each stands alone with unique elements and focus, yet they share a conceptual coherence, spectrum of examples, and writing style. We offer some pointers to the companion text as well as to other chapters in this one, our restrained effort at emulating electronic random-access hypertext in a serial printed book.

The Industrial Age medium of our Information Age message captures again that tricky transitional reality of this millennium-approaching time that we inhabit. The forces of old and new seem equally demanding and the zig-zags of life personally and globally seem more extreme and more frequent each passing year.

This book will help you cope with change, forge your own destiny, and join with others to accomplish together what you cannot do alone.

The Age of the Network has five sections:

I. The introductory overview (chapter 1);

II. The big idea, how all the forms of organization fit together and why this moment is so timely for networking (chapters 2 and 3);

III. Principles and practice, tools for networks and how to use them (chapters 4, 5, 6);

IV. Expanding links, looking in more depth at the network's most distinguishing features (chapters 7 and 8); and

V. Conclusions and trends for the future. (chapter 9).

We all have our personal learning preferences, what we need to feel comfortable with new ideas and information. In both books, we bring out concepts with a rich variety of examples and offer methodology along with vision. This gives you an opportunity to see networks through multiple lenses, since no one view is complete.

Enhance your understanding by comparing examples from your own life with our principles and observations. Think about your most successful team experience, then use your imagination to visualize what's possible.

Most important, remember that "the Age of the Network" belongs to all of us. The future of our organizations-our organic ways of being and doing together-rests in our collective hands.



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