Dense vs. Loose Networks

paypal

Friday’s blog post on crowd funding schools led to some good conversations with folks. See Matt Candler’s “yes and” response post here. I’m excited to see where Matt and his team head with these ideas.

A couple of other things came my way that have me thinking about how great ideas originate, improve, and scale – including the relative value of loose and dense networks. 

This Peter Thiel profile is well worth a read (and could probably spawn 25 blog posts). But I’ll focus on this: Thiel and the “paypal mafia” (Thiel, Musk, Chen, Sacks, etc. ) have launched 7 companies valued over a billion dollars. This is incredible. 

This, I think, speaks to the power of dense networks. Much has been written on the power of large, loose networks (especially with regard to finding job opportunities), but I’ve seen less research on dense networks – save for some research on noble prizes increasingly being awarded to teams rather than individuals.

I would define a dense network as group of 5-10 people who have close personal and professional ties, with different members connecting with each other at least every other week. In New Orleans, I’ve benefited immensely from a dense network. 

Here is my guess on the power of loose networks: they are great for new idea generation, status, and power.

Here is my guess on the power of dense networks: they are great for operational iteration, strategy refinement, and breakthroughs that require high degrees of specific content knowledge. 

Either way, it’s increasingly hard to go it alone. 

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