True diversity critical in networks

Supreme cliché though it may be, networking is an essential part of the effective executive’s skillset. It’s particularly powerful in relation to innovation, where fresh perspectives can often shed new light on gnarly issues or strategic questions. The problem, according to Insead organisational behaviour expert, Professor Herminia Ibarra, is that too many executives’ networks are large but comprise people who know each other. “This kind of network, while cozy and cohesive, is… inbred. It also tends to be internal, operational (not strategic), and historical” and is “deadly for collaboration”. Leadership development expert and coach, John Baldoni, picks up the theme, warning that familiarity contributes to lazy thinking. “Almost anyone who works in an organisation long enough begins to adopt a ‘same old same old’ view of problems as well as opportunities,” he says. “By default, they implement tried and true approaches to problems, not because they’ll always work, but because they’re not thinking about doing things differently.” External coaches offer a useful perspective, he agrees, “but outsiders can only have so much influence… Real change only comes when people inside decide to implement it.”

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