Connect People • Strengthen Leaders • Embrace the Future

Innovation Networks

Innovation Networks

When we need to innovate, networks are the answer

The demands of our rapidly changing and increasingly interdependent workplaces require innovative, adaptive approaches for assessing what’s needed to accomplish our work. How we organize can make a difference in the quality—and timeliness—of the output.

Traditional hierarchical and bureaucratic organizational forms have been useful for maintaining stability and optimizing institutionalized practices and approaches, but they lack the agility to respond quickly in the face of complex challenges, tending by their nature to be slow, even resistant, to change.

Networks, on the other hand, are organizational structures that can form and reform quickly in response to a clear collective purpose. Networks can connect diverse individuals and groups within and between organizations, and are excellent for building relationships, spurring innovation, piloting ideas and getting work done quickly.

Leaders can not only prioritize the issues or goals their organization addresses, but, depending on their level of influence, may be able to choose how people will organize to get the work done. Building network-like structures within the workforce can compliment existing hierarchies. By engaging diverse groups to explore, experiment, and testing ideas and assumptions regarding emerging challenges, leaders can increase operational and organizational flexibility.

GLI helps leaders know when and how to create and use productive networks in their organizations.

While networks can be flexible, they require members to recognize or identify a shared purpose that unites their actions, even if only for a particular project or initiative.

Innovation networks can:

  • Tap knowledge from the field to quickly assess what’s needed, what’s working and where high-leverage opportunities might exist
  • Increase communication flow up, down and across hierarchical structures and boundaries
  • Enable diverse teams to work together to collect and make meaning of data, trends and patterns in service to organizational challenges and goals
  • Respond quickly to challenges that require innovative solutions
  • Design and implement experiments to test assumptions and pilot ideas before institutionalizing changes within organizations