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Chapter 17. Power and control in networks

An organization’s data is found in its computer systems, but a company’s intelligence is found in its biological and social systems.

Valdis Krebs

Connected companies are networks that live within other networks. To be effective in a networked world requires different ways of thinking and acting. It’s less about predictability and control, and more about awareness, influence, and compatibility.

Linking Things Changes Them

Networks change things. When things are linked together, they behave differently. Networks exhibit complex, unpredictable, and sometimes volatile behavior.

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The first step in adapting to a networked environment is to understand the characteristics of networks. What is a network? Who holds the power in a network and how do they wield it? What must companies do in order to succeed in a networked environment?

What is a Social Network?

At the most basic level, a network is simply a set of nodes and links (the connections between the nodes). Networks abound in daily life. The electrical grid that supplies power to your house is a network, as are the city streets that you use to go to work.

In this case, we are particularly interested in social networks, in which people and organizations are the nodes, and the connections between them—formal, informal, logical, and emotional—are the links. Social networks include schools, workplaces, churches, ...

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