7 New Rules
Lessons from the Network
by Ray Strackbein
Networking has less to do with technology than it does with improving our business, family, social and personal lives. Here are seven actions you can take to ease your transition into the Information Age:
1. Relax control
2. Read Mars and Venus, then throw it away
3. Move from control to facilitation
4. Focus on abilities
5. Adjust the environment to suit the people
6. Pay attention to learning styles
7. Promote cooperation, communication, and connection
1. Relax control.
The Internet does not have one single individual computer, group, organization or country controlling it.
The Internet is an amazing worldwide example of how dramatically different individuals can cooperate and responsibly communicate with one another for a common goal - the sharing of information.
In the Information Age, control is much less rigid than in the past. Those still stuck in the Industrial Age worry about anarchy. Compared to the extreme control of the Industrial Age, less control may
indeed seem like anarchy, but it works! Relaxed control is not anarchy.
2. Read Mars and Venus, then throw it away.
Reading Mars and Venus helps us shift out of the mindset that "everyone is just like me" or "I am just like everyone else."
It reminds us different people view the world differently, even people within the same group. Be careful not to generalize that all members of a given group are the same. After you read it,
throw it away because all men do not think or communicate alike, nor do women.
3. Move from control to facilitation.
Society changes in the same way technology changes.
When email first became popular, computer consultants complained that managers resisted email because messages should travel through the organization in the correct manner. Using email, workers bypassed the chain
of command and communicated with counterparts in other departments or even in other countries. They sent messages to the boss. This was heresy. Email facilitated communication, reduced miscommunication and
Corporations, government, and the military rigidly controlled communications; now they value facilitating communications. Managers are now facilitators, not controllers.
Even in the military, computers and satellites promote direct, lateral communications that no longer follows the chain of command.
4. Focus on abilities.
When you can program a computer from home, who cares if you sit in a wheelchair or have a body odor problem.
Getting the job completed is paramount in the Information Age.
On the network, computers don't care about color or status. Beige or black doesn't matter. Neither does it matter whether a computer sits on the floor or on the desk. What matters is how well they communicate and process information.
5. Adjust the environment to suit the people.
In the early days, computers worked behind glass windows in their climate controlled rooms, while the typing pool struggled in steamy, smoke-filled offices.
We have been careful to give our precious computers the proper voltage, the right cables and the right temperature. Funny, we have been providing the proper environment and support systems for machines
and computers, but we still have trouble with the idea of appropriately supporting people. People are more productive in a supportive environment.
6. Pay attention to learning styles.
Some learn best from a lecture. Some want to read all about it. Some want to try first and learn later. Just as you don't put a CD-ROM in your floppy drive or in your fax machine, allow different humans
to absorb information in their favorite ways.
7. Promote cooperation, communication and connection.
Think win-win. Cooperate and communicate.
Computers on a network must cooperate to pass messages to each other or the network shuts down. People, businesses and relationships shut down without cooperation.
To cooperate, we must maintain a connection and communicate. The Information Age requires people to improve cooperation, communication and connection skills. Each computer on a network announces its desired communication method. We humans need to declare to each other who we are and how we communicate.
Business adopts concepts that work in technology. We are throwing away the assembly line, cookie-cutter way of dealing with people and adopting a networking approach.
For a computer network to work, each piece of equipment must know:
1. Its identity
2. How it is connected
3. How to communicate
These three criteria are essential for any entity to thrive in the Information Age -- organization or human. Each person, business, department, and committee must know every one of those three things, or they
will be assimilated or dismissed. These are new skills for the Information Age. The Industrial Age valued the exact opposite. If we are not prepared to even understand those three concepts, we are not
prepared to live in the Information Age.