How Leveraging the Network Can Help Your Business Grow

The Network Imperative

How to Survive & Grow in the Digital Age


How do you create value today?

What’s the best way to scale an enterprise?

How do you grow a company faster than ever and scale with lower cost?


It’s all possible if you leverage the network.


That’s how companies like Amazon, Airbnb, and Uber have succeeded against the odds.


“Entrepreneurial business favors the open mind.” –Richard Branson


In The Network Imperative: How to Survive and Grow in the Age of Digital Business Models , authors Barry Libert, Megan Beck and Jerry Wind argue that it is the way companies create value. And today, the best way to create value is through scalable and digitally networked business models – like Amazon, Google, Uber, Airbnb – that leverage networks of employees, customers, and suppliers.


Create a Virtual Network

For those not yet familiar with your work, what’s the network imperative?

The network imperative is recognizing that today’s most valuable companies are virtual networks that rely on digital platforms. This leading edge, new business model is emerging in every industry: Amazon and Alibaba in the retail industry, and Tinder in dating, Facebook and Instagram in Social Media, LinkedIn in professional resumes, Airbnb and Homeaway in room rentals, Uber and Lyft in shared car services, as well as the NYSE and NASDAQ in the financial sector.


What did your research show in terms of the financial results of “network orchestrators” versus the other 3 business models?

These business models – which we call Network Orchestrators – are more about orchestrating resources, be it insights, relationships, cars, homes, and skills rather than owning them. In addition, they scale based on the a flywheel effect , e.g. the more people, services and interactions there are on the network, the more others will join and make available their assets – whether that’s friends, photos, resumes, cars or homes.


“What’s dangerous is not to evolve.” –Jeff Bezos


5 Steps to Become Network Centric

Would you briefly describe the PIVOT model?

Our research indicates that all organizations have dormant, virtual networks of either employees, customers, prospects, suppliers, investors or alumni that, when combined with a digital platform and a clear incentive system to share what they have, what they know and who they know with others, can apply network orchestration to their business model. To help incumbents transition from firm centered (where they focus on what they make, market and sell) to network centric (where they orchestrate what others have and create peer-to-peer connections), we created a 5 step process called PIVOT.  The 5 steps are:

  1. Pinpoint your current business model (e.g. which of the 4 business models are you? Asset builder, service provider, technology creator or network orchestrator?)
  2. Inventory all your assets both tangible (e.g. plant, property and equipment as well as money) and intangible (brand, intellectual capital and relationships as well as interactions and big data).
  3. Visualize your future digital platform that connects your network of people or things.
  4. Operate your new digital network and virtual platform alongside your existing business and protect it while it grows, experimenting along the way to find the sweet spot that insures its success.
  5. Track using new big data metrics such as engagement, sentiment or interaction along with traditional financial measures to see how your network is doing and the value it creates.


“Show me your budget and I’ll tell you what you value.” –Joe Biden

Move TO your future not AWAY from your past


Photo by Fellowship of the Rich on flickr.

People seem to be motivated by one of two forces.  Either toward or against.

Both can be equally powerful motivators, but one seems to last.

Why are you in motion?

When I interview people for a job, I often ask questions about how the individual made career decisions.  Some job changes were motivated by moving AWAY from something—a bad boss, a negative work environment, low pay.  Other people make a change to move TOWARD something—a new opportunity, the ability to make a bigger impact, a better use of talent.

Though it’s not scientific validation, I’ve found that the people moving TOWARD the new opportunity are more successful, happier, and continue on an upward career path.  These people are energized by the future, by what’s to come, by what’s possible.

Contrast that with the people moving AWAY from a job.  It seems that the very same things that they didn’t like about the one job magically seemed to follow them to the next!

Moving TOWARD is more powerful than moving AWAY.