Network Weaving

Friday, June 23, 2006

Network Weaving 101

One of the basic building blocks of weaving networks is "closing of triangles". A triangle exists between three people in a social network. An "open triangle" is where there is an opportunity to introduce two people by the third person who knows them both -- it is a triangle with one missing link like in the diagram immediately below. A "closed triangle" is where all three people know each other.

Here we see our friend and colleague Ed Morrison, of iOpen, connected to two of his clients -- the economic development folks in both Lexington, KY and Oklahoma City, OK. He knows each of these groups, but they do not know each other. Much could be learned if both of these groups shared their economic development experiences with each other -- innovation happens at the intersections.

But you can't introduce groups to groups, or organizations to organizations -- it works better by introducing people to people. So, Ed picked two leaders from each group to close the triangle. He picked Cynthia Reid at the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce[OKC] and Lynda Brabowski of Commerce Lexington[CLX]. This triangle is illustrated below.

When Lynda expressed a desire to Ed for CLX to visit another region that they could learn from, Ed immediately knew the answer -- visit OKC, who previously had faced similar issues and handled them very well. Ed, also knew which introduction to make -- a network weaver needs to know WHOM to connect by knowing the people, the groups, and the dynamics involved in the connections that are being made. The closed triangle -- after Ed's introduction -- is shown below.

This was not the end of this weaving opportunity. Ed accompanied the CLX folks on their visit with OKC. During the trip he closed a few more triangles. Ed introduced the CLX group to two of the key architects of the economic blossoming in Oklahoma City, Ron Norrick -- the former mayor that started the effort, and Burns Hargis a key OKC board member. Those closed triangles are below.

The cool thing about closing triangles is that anyone can do it, and you do not need anyone's permission to do it! Close triangles around you wherever and whenever you see an opportunity. You and your community will benefit.

Just do it!

Here is Ed's write-up of the above -- connecting of two regions.

I was first tipped off to this by Brewed Fresh Daily -- where Cleveland and NEO goes to find out what is REALLY happening!


  • Anyone got any good "closing of triangles" stories to share?

    By Blogger Valdis, at 6/26/2006 1:46 PM  

  • Yes
    Our regional Leadership Learning Lab in southeastern Indiana uses this "closing of triangles" as part of the "homework" assigned to participants. This painless process works wonders as people become aware of how easy it is to build bridges and function interdependently with one another. It is a desirable building block to establish a different community, not geographically, but a community of interest.

    By Anonymous Pat Van Selow, at 7/24/2006 9:46 AM  

  • At the risk of contributing a trivial example:
    Thats what happens at parties all the time. Everyone knows the host or at least is supposed to, but there are likely people that havenĀ“t meet before.

    At my last birthday i had a poster and some pens handed over to the crowd and look what happend:

    By Blogger Ratilius, at 4/23/2007 11:54 AM  

  • I've been starting to 'close triangles' on my own, but i never really thought that you have to introduce 'people to people' and not 'org to org', but it makes gallons of sense. I need to learn more about the 'knowing whom to connect to whom' part of the process.

    By Blogger BWoodson, at 12/16/2008 3:10 PM  

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