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Summer Annotations

Battilana, J. & Casciaro, T.  (2013). The network secrets of great change agents.  Harvard Business Review, July-August, 1-8.  

This article’s title immediately captured my attention because at the last job I had, I was told that I was hired to be a change agent.  While I did implement a lot of change at the organization, I only was able to implement change within areas that I had direct access to and control over.  Perhaps had I taken this course, and read this article prior to starting in my previous role, I would have better understood the dynamics of networks that can allow change to occur.  As Battilana & Casciaro explain, there are two types of networks, cohesive networks and bridging networks, as well as two types of change, divergent and nondivergent. Divergent change is better suited for bridging networks, where contacts are not connected to one another.  “A bridging network helps drive divergent change; a cohesive network is preferable for nondivergent change” (Battilana & Casciaro, 2013, p. 5). The organization where I was hired to be a change agent, was a family owned business where many family members worked throughout the business and many individuals had been employed there for a long time. Not because of the quality of work they did but because of loyalty.  In fact the leader was inept but was there because his Father had been a leader before him. With this culture came a lot of inter-office politics and gossip. In this situation, I do not believe that strategically improving my network could have improved my abilities as a change agent because of the culture of the organization and the owner. I strategically improved my network while in this role, but with the exception of one project, I was only able to change what I and my team could directly control.  This makes sense in the context of the article, as I was within a cohesive network, affecting only low levels of change. My example is a great example of the application of research to the workplace and in using it to assess organizational environments and determine actions accordingly.  

Keywords:  network, change agents, informal network, formal network

LO2:  demonstrate the ability to assess complex organizational environments and achieve communicative goals.  

Cummings, J. & Pletcher, C.  (2011). Why project networks beat project teams.  MIT Sloan Management Review.  52(3), 74-80.

Cummings & Petcher analyzed teams at a large food company who were working on a variety of projects, using survey data to gain knowledge on how the teams operated as well as on the project characteristics.  They found that the greater number of “non-core contributors (p. 75), that a team had, the more successful the team was at solving a problem. This finding points to the use of project networks, a network in which personal networks are used to create value for a team. The organizational members look beyond the individuals on an internal team, gathering knowledge and resources outside of the team and sometimes outside of the organization, and bring it back in.  For complex tasks that may require expertise that team members lack, using a project network can be particularly helpful keeping in mind that the formation of one has to be supported and actively managed. The findings sharted in this article were interesting to me because captured and quantified we as humans rely on other people when solving for a problem. Also, I related to the article because the company featured was a food company. As someone who works in the food industry, it is so rare to see case studies or articles that feature my industry.  The industry is one that is complex with many moving parts, including regulatory requirements as well as many customer interactions. As I work in an environment similar to that of the featured company, the tips on promoting project networks, the reasons for utilizing them and the suggestions of who should be involved to implement one, are very relevant to my profession.  

Keywords: networks, teams, projects, project networks 

LO2:  demonstrate the ability to assess complex organizational environments and achieve communicative goals.  

LO3:  address complex challenges by collaboratively leading teams across disciplines, distances, and sectors.

Ibarra, H.  (2006, April 18).  5 misconceptions about networking.  Harvard Business Review. 1-5.  

Ibarra very clearly shares five misconceptions about networking including that it is a waste of time, that networking capabilities are innate, that “relationships form naturally,” that participating in networks is selfish and lastly that our most important relationships are the ones that are most valuable to us in networking.  Prior to reading this article I did not have all of these misconceptions but I did and still do feel that relationships form naturally. I associate networking with naturalness. I have built a large network operating from a place of curiosity and openness. Once of the first articles we have read in class that I do not agree with the message.  I do however understand the value of it, which Ibarra states upon conclusion of the article, that “discovering the value of networking for yourself” is how you will come to understand networking as an important tool. It is a personal thing and should not be told how to go about doing it as long as one is aware of how it positively contributes to professional and personal goals.   

Keywords:  networking, rules, value  

LO2:  demonstrate the ability to assess complex organizational environments and achieve communicative goals.  

LO3:  address complex challenges by collaboratively leading teams across disciplines, distances, and sectors.

Katzenbach, J.  (2012, March 21).  Look beyond the team: it’s about the network.  Harvard Business Review.  

Teams are so often spoken or written about in a positive light.  Teamwork makes the dreamwork is a common phrase that expresses the notion that teams and teamwork are important to have success.  In an organizational setting however, as Katzenbach argues, it is actually networks that are necessary to engage with to tackle problems, rather than teams.  Katzenbach does not say that teams are unnecessary, as when the right conditions are in place, including having one designated person in charge or one where the “leadership role actually shifts among the members,”       

 they can be successful.  However, he says that taking a network approach, looking at a broader set of people for certain attributes, can be more powerful than staying narrowly focused on a set team.   This article is extremely relevant to anyone in a managerial role in business, including myself, because it highlights the need to adapt methodologies as the business environment evolves.  Looking to a network to solve problems, rather than limiting oneself to a team, can offer better and faster solutions. I will certainly consider looking beyond the team next time I am working to solve a problem.  

Keywords: team, teamwork, network, performance, leadership

LO2:  demonstrate the ability to assess complex organizational environments and achieve communicative goals.  

LO3:  address complex challenges by collaboratively leading teams across disciplines, distances, and sectors.

McGinn, K. & Tempest, N.  (2018). Heidi Roisen.  HBS No.  9-800-228.  Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Publishing.

After reading the previous articles on networking, that points out the importance of being strategic in approach,  it was refreshing to read a case study that highlights what I would consider to be a more natural networking approach that I could relate to.  The case study reviews the professional life of Heidi Roisen, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist and entrepreneur known for her large network.  As the case study highlights, Heidi has built a tremendous network by being social, thoughtful and deliberate. Heidi is known for hosting parties at her home with diverse and rotating groups of individuals.  She makes connections that she is confident are mutually beneficial, rather than one-sided and that she maintains while continuing to grow her network and influence. Heidi is an example of a person that I want to be like in regards to her network depth and breadth.  The details shared on her background and style, aid in me being able to better understand how she built the network she did. As I move forward in my career I can utilize and participate in some of her tactics, which I suppose is taking a strategic approach after all.   

Keywords:  networking, network, venture capital, leveraging, maintaining

LO5:  critically analyze messages

LO6:  create and deliver elegant messages appropriate to the audience, purpose, and context.