“Network thinking lets us scientifically understand the world around us as one of connections that shape observed phenomena, rather than as one where the intrinsic properties of people, genes, or particles determine outcomes. Like previous scientific revolutions, the network revolution also has the promise of reshaping our basic commonsense expectations of the world around us, and may allow us to recognize that we are not a basically individualistic, asocial, and quarrelsome creature that comes in bounded linguistic, ethnic, racial, or religious types, but a social species linked to one another by far-reaching network ties.” – How Networks Are Revolutionizing Scientific (and Maybe Human) Thought – Scientific American
Network thinking is the big shift needed, individually, organizationally, institutionally, and culturally. Getting to network thinking in our organizations is a learning challenge which three of Peter Senge’s five disciplines can help us with: mental models, building shared vision, and systems thinking. Individually we can develop personal mastery, another of Senge’s disciplines, through practices such as personal knowledge mastery in developing professional knowledge-sharing and sense-making networks. One learning accelerator is visualization, as once a network can be visualized, it can be discussed between people in order to understand it.
Many organizations are struggling in adapting to the network era. Network thinking comes by engaging in networked conversations. This is often ignored when new technologies are adopted by institutions. Changing thinking takes time. Electric communication (digital & networked) is changing how we think. Being conscious of this change may help humanity face the many challenges confronting our global society.