Historically speaking we could say that networking is the natural organizing method for the information age. It is kind of the 4th major method of organization in recent human history.
First there were nomadic societies, where small groups hunted and gathered together.
Then there were agricultural societies that were hierarchical. Somebody would own the land and have people working for them, and so forth.
Then there were industrial societies, represented by bureaucracy. Compartmentalized organizations where people in one section don't know what the people in the neighbouring section are doing.
But now in the information society and beyond, the trend is more towards networks, or networks of teams. Things are happening too quickly for hierarchical or bureaucratic organizations to cope well. Adaptability and quick response is important. It is more valuable who you are linked up with than what position or title you have.
A TeamNet represents the best principles from the organization methods that preceded it, and creates a new format dynamic enough to work well into the future.
A TeamNet is a network of teams working according to these five principles:
UNIFYING PURPOSE - TeamNets achieve success by being clear on their purpose. The purpose needs to be simple, and everyone involved needs to understand it and, if possible, participate in its development. Each team is clear on what they are trying to do, and the network of teams are clear on what they are trying to do amongst each other.
INDEPENDENT MEMBERS - Joining a network doesn't mean one has to give up independence. Individuals in teams, or teams amongst other teams, all retain and usually enhance their independence. The activities in a TeamNet do not depend on a central authority.
VOLUNTARY LINKS - A network has many links, connections and relationships. The links cross boundaries and are not hierarchical or regulated. The links are voluntary, based on personal choice and interest. One is not forced to have them, but is free to create them, maintain them, or terminate them.
MULTIPLE LEADERS - Everyone is a leader at the time when his or her unique experience and knowledge adds to the group's intelligence. Leadership in a network is not a matter of acquired status or ownership. Those who are able or motivated lead in the areas they are able or motivated in. Natural networkers are coordinators and catalysts who constantly develop matches between people's needs and resources.
INTEGRATED LEVELS - Networks aren't just 2-dimensional and homogenous. They clump into sub-groups and interest groups and teams of different sizes and make-ups, continuously forming or re-forming. Different teams will choose different foci of attention. Together they form a structure which could be likened to a hierachy, but which isn't based on authority of command, but on interest. Groups naturally gather into groups of groups, or sub-divide into smaller groups.
Nowhere do these principles become more pertinent than in the creation of a whole new civilization. You can't create a new cilization by telling everybody what to do. Different people and groups of people have different interests and norms. But by networking freely together and by coming together when we have shared purposes, by taking action when we are able and inspired, and by remaining aware of how our activies relate to other activities, thus we can achieve a synergy, a unity based on diversity.
Jessica Lipnack & Jeffrey Stamps: "The Age of the Network", ISBN 0-939246-71-6, Oliver Wight Publications.