Saturday, July 24, 2010

Networks, Hubs, and Problem Solving

I recently finished reading Linked: How Everything is Connected to Everything Else and What it Means. In this overview of networks and the many places they appear in the world, the author mentions that there are hubs that connect different areas of the network to each other and they are key in getting information across the network. You may have heard of the six degrees of Kevin Bacon which is a game people play to relate any actor to Kevin Bacon based on movies they have acted in in common. The reason this game works is because there are actors who have acted in many movies alongside many other actors. Because of these actors who are 'hubs', actors who seem to have nothing in common are linked to each other.

That brought to mind problem solving. If you are an expert in one area, but have no connections to other disciplines, your impact will be in a relatively small area. You only interact with others with a similar background and your problem solving will have depth but not breadth. Your network is isolated, or you rely on someone else to be the hub to network your skills and knowledge to other areas.

Try to foster links in other disciplines, that way you will be a hub that will transfer solutions to many areas, just the way a major actor links many actors together. Likewise, engage those from other areas since they may be working on things that are solutions to the problems you have.

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