Network Development: Often underestimated

In our work with contexture®, the four wings of the intangible assets butterfly, with which we visualize our method, often receive very different attention.


Because their contents are only partially in the daily focus:


The subject areas of the left wings are well thought of: They focus on individuals, e.g. employees, their capacities and level of knowledge. As well as their tools, processes and organizational embedding.


The right wings often receive less attention, but are just as important because they look at the environment in which employees can unfold their effect. In addition to governance issues, there is one aspect that is essential for employees to multiply their impact: Network development.


Network development: multiplying opportunities

Thanks to the latest technologies, networks have taken on a new dimension in the last two decades. Business contacts can be established and maintained faster, easier and more globally. Companies interact with customers in real time via social media. The number of social media platforms is constantly increasing and changing, offering enormous potential for interaction with potential customers and equally great dangers from ill-considered publications. The entire exchange within this network is becoming ever faster.


And still, the potential of networks remains unchanged: They connect, make new things possible, open doors, strengthen and supplement one's own competence.


Positioning and focusing

How do you and your company position yourself in this area? Which culture of networking suits your market positioning, your company values, your products, your customers?

Where do you use networks today - strategically and operationally?

These are only some of the questions we often discuss with our customers.


For example, how do you best support and enable employees for internal and external networking, whether for an exchange of knowledge with peers or for collaborating on research projects? How could you as a manager (as a door opener) become a success multiplier? And where could the entire team benefit from an institutionalized exchange of knowledge? These questions (and probably a few more) are useful for strategic positioning and focusing on the most effective networking activities for you.


Benefits for internal projects

Especially in projects, a look at the network is key. Knowledge carriers who get into contact with each other as early as possible create quality and security in the project. Goals are fine-tuned, common understanding is ensured.


It is worth getting important project stakeholders on board right from the start, even if some (detailed) information is still missing. Build up trust and your network will be able to work under pressure, you will align project participants as well as opinion leaders towards the common goal. Especially in projects, this is one of the most effective precautionary measures for the unforeseen.


Analyse together with the project team the status of your project network at regular intervals.

  • Who should be introduced to each other?

  • Which external institutions, companies, persons could be of use for your project or could be interested in your project?

  • What kind of exchange or cooperation is suitable for an optimal project benefit?

  • Where should which information be made available to which stakeholders?


Benefits for day-to-day management

You can also actively use networks in the operational and strategic areas.

Apart from your own contacts and business networks, management circles are a popular form of peer exchange for the "just-in-time" consideration of difficult issues.


At company level, alliances or strategic networks, for example to increase your market potential, are a networking opportunity. Innovation clusters and virtual cooperation for joint market development are different. More and more companies are using the crowd and profiting from creative ideas for new products, services or marketing.[1]


In the operative area, there is a potential for innovation and cost/business optimization, because the existing is rarely analyzed and questioned. Take your time or commission a pragmatic analysis to make it clear: What is currently available in the area of networks - in what form and form?


Analysis of cost/business optimizations

The following keywords provide clues to the most frequent focal points and areas of analysis.

  • Customers, suppliers, business partners, research and education:

  • Benefits for current and future market positioning and target achievement

  • Costs associated with this, innovation gain

  • Quality of the relationship (past and future)

  • Type of contract (SLA if applicable)

  • Geography of contractual relations

  • Dependencies and cluster risk, etc.

  • Crowdfunding for innovation inputs.

  • Internal and external cooperation:

  • Knowledge and innovation management

  • Collaboration platforms (incl. intranet etc.)

  • Leadership and management tools

  • Overview of the internal projects with the possibility that outsiders can also give input and gain insight.

  • Personnel search via social networks

  • Employer branding via evaluation platforms


Outlook

The dynamic development lies in the nature of networks. Currently, this is happening rapidly, with great potential for all parties involved and with corresponding risks.


It is worthwhile to develop and maintain networks proactively and responsibly, in line with the company's vision and values - on an individual level, for employees, in projects, from a product and company perspective.


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