Intentional Network Ethics

March 17, 2016 Leave a comment


There is a difference between being a network by default and being one by intention. Sometimes that can be a big difference. I encounter a fair number of networks that are networks in name and in standing, at least in that they are connected entities. But that is pretty much it. Experience shows there are any number of different ways to structure a network, and name it for that matter.

And what I find is most important is the underlying intention to maximize network effects, including: speeding the spread of resources, ensuring resources reach everyone in the network, ensuring everyone has the opportunity to share resources, growing the overall pie of resources, strengthening adaptive capacity and collective intelligence, growing abundance and equity in many different ways.

What this boils down to is a set of network ethics, which I would summarize (certainly incompletely, and to which I invite additions and alterations) in the following way:

There is an awareness that to the extent that there is a network “center” it is about being in service of and helping to connect the whole, as well as bringing in the “periphery.”

There is an emphasis on contribution and creating value over deferring to traditional credentials and the usual (often privileged) suspects.

People lead with a spirit of generosity, transparency, openness and gratitude.

There is an orientation towards creating spaces for belonging across lines of difference and also not towards “absorbing” anyone, but respecting “collaborative solidarity.”

There is an overall effort towards growing the pie, not just carving it up into smaller pieces.

There is a developmental trajectory, so that equity, inclusion, trust-building, transparency, generosity … are always works in progress. 


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