Living Networks: Leading Your Company, Customers, and Partners in the Hyper-Connected Economy
||Author: Ross Dawson|
List Price: $24.95
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Publisher: Financial Times Prentice Hall (21 October, 2002)
Sales Rank: 285,781
Average Customer Rating: 4.2 out of 5
Customer ReviewsRating: 5 out of 5
From Conceptualization to Plan of Action
Ross Dawson's book, "Living Networks," provides an exceptionally lucid and visionary framework in which to chart a succesful company or individual course in the Knowledge Economy. Through concise bullet lists at key points throughout the book, the author provides a series of critical considerations and steps to develop a solid plan of action for the reader to embark on a voyage into the future of high-value commerce that, in a globalized world of business, will be characterized in significant measure by networks and relationships. The writing is quick and lively and the advice and insight imparted are invaluable.
Rating: 5 out of 5
A well written, clear exposition
Networks, networking and relationship building through networks have become a very popular theme for business writing, the thesis being that strategic networking is one of the critical keys to business success.
Ross Dawson's first book Developing Knowledge-Based Client Relationships, focused on relationships between knowledge working professionals and their clients. His new book has a much broader reach, being concerned with the development of network technologies and the implications for business strategy across the whole range of stakeholder and competitor relationships.
The author has demonstrated that the success of his first book was no mere flash in the pan. He writes excellent colloquial English, develops his argument clearly and logically and uses examples and illustrations well to clarify the main points in his argument (unlike the many authors who seem to use examples to overwhelm rather than enlighten). The subject itself is an important one and, although Dawson is not alone in tackling it, his book is the one I would choose as a guide to understanding and action for the practical business person. (For example, I find it more approachable than Verna Allee's The Future of Knowledge, which is written at a more conceptual level and is rather more difficult to read.) It is one of the few books I have read which is clearly informed by an implicitly (as well as explicitly) systemic view of the world.
Living Networks elucidates these systemic relationships and then proposes strategies to achieve successful competitive placement within the systems that the entity chooses to try to influence. Its prescriptions are also based on values that are made explicit in various parts of the book - for example the value on retaining and fostering diversity despite globalization and the importance of operating in ways that build trust.
The book is arranged in four parts: Evolving Networks; Evolving Organizations; Evolving Strategy; and Future Networks (the evolution of business). Each of the ten chapters in Parts 1 to 3 ends with a summary section connecting it to the argument in the rest of the book.
Part 1, Evolving Networks, is a short introductory section that starts by identifying five key issues that the author seeks to explore. These are the impact of networking technologies on:
* the nature of relationships between companies and those they deal with;
* ways of working and relating within organizations;
* innovation and intellectual property, with a particular emphasis given to the importance of open source models of innovation;
* strategy in an economy in which strategic positioning in relation to the flow of information and ideas is becoming critically important; and
* the need for styles of leadership that move beyond the box of traditional command and control and position their organizations effectively within networks, while developing their capacity to recognize, bring together and exploit intellectual property.
Part 1 provides the base for the main focus of the book in Parts 2 and 3. Part 2 describes the evolution of organizations in a systemic world governed by the rules of complexity, but from the particular perspective of networking, relationship building and innovation. The description is complementary to that in books like Moore: The Death of Competition, Hock: Birth of the Chaordic Age, or Youngblood: Life at the Edge of Chaos, all of which provide different insights on the same general phenomenon.
13 action steps are offered for building network presence. In order to keep the scope of the book within reasonable bounds, the important issues of privacy and of intellectual property are mentioned, but not discussed in any detail.
Part 3 turns to strategy. The thesis is that:
Devices, communications, and industries are all converging into one vast space for doing business. This is the flow economy, in which almost all value is based on the flow of information and ideas. Companies must continually reposition themselves in this flow economy, both to meet new competitive challenges ... and to take advantage of ... emerging opportunities.
The single chapter in Part 4 develops 10 propositions or forecasts:
* We will soon be immersed in connectivity [access will spread and bandwidth will become greater]
* Transparency will drive business and society [suggesting that privacy will vanish]
* Collaborative filtering will be the heart of the networks
* Information filtering will be an evolutionary battlefield [marketers trying to insert messages and technology and other means becoming available to exclude them]
* Open, accepted standards will predominate
* almost all value creation will stem from collaborative relationships
* Collaborative intellectual property models will flourish
* Highly virtualised organizations will be a dominant force
* The rapidly increasing pool of free agents will be polarized [the rich will get richer and the poor poorer]
* People and networks will merge [technologies for integrating the human and the machine are developing].
These are of course forecasts or bets on the future. The development of their implications makes interesting reading and provides a possible direction. Whether we want to, or do go that way is another question. As with the debate on globalization, what we can do, what we should do and what we will do are not necessarily the same and depend in large part on the underlying 'rules of the game', including the measures by which we judge success. What those are and should be is a debate that is taking place at the level of societal governance - a debate of immense importance to us all.
Rating: 5 out of 5
A fun and practical primer to today's economy
There's a lot of confusion out there about what technology means to business in the wake of the dotcom bust. Living Networks finally brings clarity to this field. It explains clearly where we are, and covers what managers have to do in organizations, strategy, innovation, and more. It really is exceptional to find a business book that is both very practical, and also such an entertaining read.
No point doing a synopsis. The book has a Website ... which has an overview and chapters to download. And a "blog", so you get the author's realtime commentary too. Bring on the day when all book's have this value-add!
Two (small) reservations. First, Dawson implies that everything he covers is happening now. Much of it is, but some stuff in the book (especially web services) will pan out over the next few years. Second (if you can call it a problem), the book is so broad in scope that it doesn't have the theory and richness of more specialist books. Want to know the latest on network theory and the social implications? Read Nexus by Buchanan or Barabasi's Linked. Want in-depth network strategy? Information Rules by Shapiro and Varian. Mathematical business analysis of networks? Buy Shy's Economics of Network Industries. The key issues in intellectual property? Lessig's The Future of Ideas. What the new dynamics are for individuals? Pink's Free Agent Nation is still a winner. Want the whole kit and kaboodle: what's happening in the economy today, and what to do about it? No question, Living Networks is the standout book. Hopefully it will get some good competition soon.
· Linked: How Everything Is Connected to Everything Else and What It Means