Net-Map training, 16th-17th August, Washington DC

You want to understand the politics of a reform, manage the people side of your business, evaluate complex projects or do engaging qualitative, quantitative and visual network research?
The most engaging part of a Net-Map training that is open to everyone is the diversity of participants. And because we will work with your own case studies, we all learn from each other AND everyone can focus on your core interest. It helps that we are planning to teach a small group (up to 12 participants) with two trainers.
Look here for more info and sign up soon, as this is filling up already.

I love being a small fish

File:Barracuda with prey.jpg

When I work with people who know nothing about network analysis… (picture copyright Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary)

Next week I’ll be a very small fish – at the annual conference of the International Network of Social Network Analysis in Hamburg, Germany. In my daily life I am THE social networks expert, because all my colleagues have different areas of expertise. So I can be comfortable, relax and feel like a social networks barracuda. Most of the questions my colleagues ask I can answer and they wouldn’t even know if I made something up (just as I wouldn’t know if they did in their area of expertise).

But at the Sunbelt conference, different story. I am looking forward to listening to talks that will really really stretch my brain, even to the feeling of: “This is brilliant (I think…) but I have no idea what he is talking about and how you could apply this in the real world as I know it.” And, while it might not be the most pleasant feeling, I am also eager to have participants in my Net-Map training, listening to my talk, who can ask me the tougher questions, who can call me out and would know exactly if I don’t know the answer… I spend most of my time as an implementer and change agent, using network stuff where and as it works for me – but with the goal of changing the world, not of creating perfect data sets for scientific analysis. That means, often it’s more important that the results are delivered fast, that they matter, that they are understandable, than that they could be published in a peer reviewed journal. But it’s easy to use this as an excuse for being lazy, in your work or intellectually. And that’s why it is so good, every once in a while, to be a very small fish in a very big pond…

More realistic picture of my position in the Social Network Analysis food chain (picture copyright by Bernie Gunn)

Show me your hunger!

Cookiemonster, show me your HUNGER (copyright by esti- on flickr)

Cookiemonster, show me your HUNGER (copyright by esti- on flickr)

Today I had lunch with my colleague Benjamina Randrianarivelo  and we talked about what we are looking for in people that we train in our respective methods. He is passionate for the Rapid Results Approach (I am getting there too…) and I, no surprise here, teach Net-Map whereever I go… Sure, we are looking for people who are clever, who can connect to people, who have experience etc. but the one most important thing you have to be is hungry. No not just hungry, HUNGRY!

In the good seven years since I have developed Net-Map I have trained more people than I can count. And most of them will do a decent job at Net-Mapping afterward. But there are some who have moved to be virtuosos, Net-Map blackbelts, people who might know more about the method than I do. And what they have in common is that they don’t stop asking questions and digging deeper. Jennifer Hauck continues to ask how you deal with the validity when using Net-Map as a research method, Noora Aberman has driven both of us crazy and back when trying to figure out how to best stack larger datasets and still make sense of the data, Paolo Brunello has filmed teams who Net-Mapped and can’t stop wondering about the group dynamics you can observe, who picks up the pen, who leans back when and what does that mean. They are not the only ones (and these are not the only questions they are obsessed with), but they sure have challenged me and stayed hungry for more over the years. Also, they all have made sure to learn more about network analysis than I could teach them.

I wonder, is being HUNGRY! part of some people’s personality, that they are somehow always looking, digging, asking questions and learning while other people are quite satisfied with where they are and what they know already? Are there different rules about how you deal with your hunger in different cultures? Where you come, from can you actually approach an expert with questions or do you have to rather read up on things by yourself? Can you even envisage yourself becoming a super-expert on something, or do you think your role is rather that of an obedient student and supporter?

Well, if you feel this funny inkling in your stomach, this tickling and growling, feel free:


If you want to learn, don’t hesitate, contact me, ask me questions, digg deeper.