If you want to be more innovative, a new study implies that you may be better off with a small cluster of contacts instead of one massive but loosely linked list. Why? In small networks important information travels quickly, which is a necessary component of innovation.
According to the researchers, companies reap greater benefits when they are part of a network that exhibits a high degree of clustering and only a few degrees of separation, both of which are characteristic of a small-world network.
They found that clustering enables information to travel quickly and accurately because it creates redundant paths between companies and increases the level of cooperation among them. Clusters within networks are important structures for making information exchange meaningful and useful, they add. Clustering can make firms more willing and able to exchange information.
Two questions. Does this mean that web companies would be more innovative if they partnered strategically with a few select companies rather created open APIs available to anyone? Does this mean that extended professional networks don't have the benefit we think they have?
I like this study because it points out something that people often forget… information is what is valuable. I think we sometimes decide to network to advance our career or business, and after a while become complacent. We network just to network, just out of habit. That's unproductive. You don't build a network just to have one, you build a network to use. And I don't mean that negatively. You should give back to the network as well. My point is that networks are valuable for what they provide, not for their own sake.
The picture above is from Disney historic souvenirs