Building and Sustaining Collaborative Networks
Once existing networks are identified and their current dynamics understood, how does the organization stimulate those communities to flourish and make a significant contribution to the organization’s business goals? To some extent, professional communities already exist in every organization, formally or informally. But many leading corporations have learned to maximize network activities to realize a big competitive advantage.
A Collaborative Network provides precious opportunities for sharing knowledge and information within a specific knowledge domain. Its members are practitioners of a profession or function, with common business goals. Networks are for sharing as well as creating new knowledge and therefore, a network can provide thought leadership and technical direction for specific business areas or initiatives. Networks are also great places for rapid problem solving, idea generation and solution finding for business and technical problems. Without a collaborative network in place for a given technical or business domain, experts in that field might struggle with a problem for weeks or sometimes months. A community of practice allows those struggling experts to gather useful input and insights from other qualified experts (potentially from across the world or even from client or vendor organizations) in 48 to 72 hours. Typical questions a network helps answer is: “Have we come across this or a similar situation before? How did we solve it? What did we learn? How can we avoid making this mistake again? Instead of re-inventing the wheel, how can we reuse the solution or approach that this product group/business unit/country already developed?”
The value provided by the network to its members is available anytime, anywhere, across geographies and time zones.
Close alignment of a network’s work products with business initiatives is essential. As these networks of communities become more structured and formalized they have opportunities to contribute more value both to themselves and the overall organization. Network membership can grow and change quickly. The scope of the network becomes more agile and dynamic as business issues evolve. Effective and successful networks require funding, hands-on leadership and committed sponsorship.
The unique, high-touch methodology Vitesse Solutions has developed over many years of first-hand experience and numerous client projects can save companies years of trial-and-error and avoid failed or struggling networks.
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