How to get strategic insights from Net-Map

Just a bowl of spaghetti with toys on top?

So, you have done the mapping, in front of you a messy bowl-of-spaghetti-with-toys-on-top-diagram and your participants or clients ask you:


So what do we do now? What does this mean?

While the content of the answer will be different in every case, here are some guiding principle to direct your eyes and your thought when looking for strategic insights from a Net-Map: In general three issues are considered: Actor Influence, Goals and Connections, with the following lines of thought:


  • Influential actors who can harm / support
  • Increasing or decreasing actor influence
  • Diverse sources of influence


  • ¬†Understanding reasons / motivations / fears / aspirations behind goals
  • Working with, connecting, strengthening positive actors
  • Dealing with, mitigating risk concerning negative actors
  • Changing actor goals toward more positive


  • Network patterns and their effects (e.g. centralization vs. decentralization, boundary spanners, disconnected silos)
  • Tension or reinforcement of formal vs. informal links
  • Connections which create destructive forces in the system
  • Missing links
  • Connecting positive actors (coalition), understanding negative coalitions, engaging mixed actors
  • Dividing negative actors

Network Poetry


Crisscross by Androwilli (on flickr)

I have often Imagined that glances

survive the act of seeing

as if they were poles,

measuring rods, lances

thrown in a battle.

Then I think that in a room

one has just left

those same lines must stay behind

sometimes suspended there and crisscrossed

untouched and overlaid like the wooden pieces

in a game of pick-up-sticks.

(by Valierio Magrelli, translated from the Italian by Dana Gioia)

¬†(the heading is mine, not the poem’s)