The other day I was being interviewed on Network Concepts and I was surprised by two very simple questions: “Why should today’s business leaders understand the power of network designs? Why do they need to adapt these principals to their business models and operations?”
To be honest, I thought most business leaders were already past this question. Every consumer, potential employee, board member, and future leader is already immersed in the ideas of being connected. Every day they experience the flow of shared experiences, shared ideas, shared solutions, and shared challenges.
The network has evolved from a simple concept of cooperation to the way business is done. And every day that belief system is pushing the boundaries of development and advancement in our society. My simple answer, then, was, “If you are still wondering why to use the networked world, you’re behind the curve.”
Of course, using the network does not mean you don’t still act for your own best interest. You’re independent; you are yourself in a crowd that helps you get things done.
Breaking this down for a business leader is easy: The consumers you serve will expect your business solutions to take advantage of network opportunities; the employees you hire will have been trained to expect networks to be available to them in solving problems and succeeding; the volunteers who join your Boards will ask whether you are connected enough; your marketplace peers will be right there with you, ready to interact, exchange, and solve problems through networks as well.
Everyone around you is learning to expect a network solution. CU*Answers isn’t teaching this to them; they’re learning it as part of their daily lives. Therefore, act with your stakeholders, and take advantage of the network.
This year, CU*Answers celebrates its 40th anniversary. What started as a collaborative business to share technology, through the years, has found new value in the fact that the highway we built is now a core asset to so many. The ability to interact collectively and use the power of shared resources to craft new independent and cooperative solutions is one of the things we all count on.
What started as an idea about how to do things yesterday has turned into a template for doing things tomorrow. CU*Answers didn’t invent it; we were just in the right place at the right time.
And the cool thing about CU*Answers is, we have a short-term advantage from being in the right place at the right time. So we can get started NOW on what others are only starting to think about. CU*Answers is a proof of concept for network ideas.
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