Weak ties = new information (which is essential to innovation)


Perhaps I was being a bit dull when I first read through Andrew McAffe’s The Ties that Find, as I seem to have missed the key point, which is that weak ties are where new information comes from. Thanks to Dr Felix Reed-Tsochas for calling this out so explicitly during his section of the networks masterclass at the recent SVCO event. I should also say that Mark S. Granovetter’s original paper on The Strength of Weak Ties is well worth a read – what wonderful insight for something written more than 25 years ago.

This gets me thinking that there’s probably a gravity analogy lurking here – once something falls inside a field of influence then it becomes less useful because it has lower entropy.

There’s also a potential molecular chemistry analogy here – that weak ties (like covalent bonds) take less energy to get reactions going than strong ties (like ionic bonds).

If enterprise 2.0 is looking to encourage innovation, to get those reactions going, to suck in that entropy, then we need to facilitate those weak ties. If we keep the enterprise 1.0 blinkers on and stop things at the electronic borders that wrap around our buildings then that’s not going to happen very well.

and that’s why enterprise 2.0 shouldn’t be ‘enterprisey‘.

One Response to “Weak ties = new information (which is essential to innovation)”

  1. 1 Joe M

    I highly recommend Manuel Castells’ “Rise of Network Society” as a useful framework on which to hang these sorts of discussions. I believe Castells’ notion that the network is now the fundemental unit of social organization makes McAfee’s points seem that much more sensible. Reading Castell’s is not light going, but the payoff is very satisfying.


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