Networking the World
By Jessica Lipnack and Jeffrey Stamps
Futurist (The World Future Society), July, 1993
Bill Clinton is now and has always been a networker. We can personally
attest to how long he has been honing his networking skills.
Like several hundred other Americans, we (Jeff and
Jessica) met each other as students at Oxford University in 1968.
Jeff was a Fulbright Scholar studying political philosophy; Jessica
was an undergraduate studying on a one-year exchange. There, we
also met the future U.S. president.
Shortly after Bill Clinton arrived as a Rhodes Scholar in the fall
of 1968, Jeff met him at a Rhodes House function on Oxford's Parks
Road. After talking a few minutes, Bill pulled out a black address
"What are you doing here at Oxford, Jeff?" Bill asked.
"I'm at Pembroke on a Fulbright," Jeff said. Bill wrote
down the name of Jeff's Oxford college, then asked about his undergraduate
school and his major.
"Bill, why are you writing this down?" Jeff asked a bit
"I'm going into politics and plan to run for governor of Arkansas
and I'm keeping track of everyone I meet," Bill explained.
Bill Clinton's little black book must be very large now. Today,
he can turn to aides, handing them people's business cards, letters,
proposals, and even resumes as people give them to him. It is impossible
to read an article about Clinton that doesn't refer to his prodigious
Clearly, Cinton had been plaiting his political braid for a long
time before he announced his candidacy for president, weaving together
many differing constituencies into what are now known as Friends
The Power of Team Networks
Like most campaigns, Bill Clinton's depended heavily on networking.
His success dramatically demonstrated the power of a tool that can
help solve the world's problems: the "TeamNet Factor."
It is a tool to increase people's ability to do things together,
yet remain independent.
"TeamNets" are amalgams of teams working together in
networks that cross disciplinary boundaries, institutional boundaries,
community boundaries, and national boundaries. They empower both
the group and its individual members. The principles behind these
networks of teams are changing the way we conduct business and offering
a successful formula for world governance.
The Clinton campaign clearly illustrates the principles of successful
1. Clarify the Unifying Purpose. A very clear purpose
focused the campaign. Clinton mentioned it in every speech. Someone
wrote it on a white board in Little Rock headquarters as a reminder
to campaign workers: "It's the Economy, Stupid."
2. Identify Independent Members. Some 3,000 independent
volunteers - members - poured into Little Rock to help, with many
thousands more shoring up the operation in each of the 50 states,
then disbanded just as quickly when the carnpaign was over.
3. Create Voluntary Links. Fax machines, cellular phones,
and telephone conference calls kept the regional and state operators
in constant touch with Little Rock headquarters, providing a very
disciplined use of intense two-way communication links between
Little Rock and the state coordinators every day.
4. Recognize the Power of Multiple Leaders. Many leaders
populated the campaign, dealing with everything from political
strategy to scheduling to fundraising to coordination.
5. Stay Connected at All Levels. Multiple levels of the
existing hierarchy were recruited to endorse and support the campaign
- from fivestar generals and corporate CEOs to the usual parade
of national, state, and local politicians.
Networking and hierarchy each played its appropriate part in Clinton's
campaign. But will history remember Bill Clinton as the "Network
President"? If he ultimately depends only on the power of his
personal networks, the answer is no. If he extends his personal
networking strength to encompass an organizational networking strategy,
the answer is yes. The Clinton administration will fail to
achieve its potential if it cannot activate the TeamNet Factor within
a federal bureaucracy that interacts with business, labor, education,
myriad other special interests, and ultimately all the people and
Chinese Students' Network
Since we began our research on networking in 1979, we have corresponded
with networkers in more than 70 countries and have observed networking
grow from a local grass-roots activity to a global mainstream activity.
Nowhere was the growing importance of networking clearer than in
the spring of 1989 in Beijing. There, Hu Yaobang, a Chinese reform
leader much admired by China's long-standing democracy movement,
died. At the same time, Mikhail Gorbachev, the symbol of communist
reform, landed in Beijing, making the first Soviet state visit since
Nikita Khrushchev's trip in 1959.
Reporters who traveled to China from all over the world to cover
the Gorbachev visit found a completely different story unfolding
before their eyes. In response to the death of Hu Yaobang, the Chinese
university students and supporters of the country's pro-democracy
movement - at least a million strong - occupied Tiannanmen Square.
No one ordered them to come there, and the government didn't want
them to stay. Spontaneously, the students arrived from everywhere,
and before they knew it, they were international heroes, standing
in front of television cameras and being interviewed by the world's
Communication exploded: wall posters, newsletters, radios, bull-horns,
cassettes, photocopiers, video, fax, cellular telephones, computers.
Universities, businesses, and even government offices in China allowed
their fax machines to send and receive. Foreign corporations with
operations in China permitted the use of their computers to send
electronic mail messages. International telephone calls in and out
of China increased dramatically. It was perhaps the largest political
demonstration in human history and certainly the most high-tech
Suddenly, the Army opened fire on unarmed demonstrators, killing
many. As the shooting continued, survivors ran back and forth to
telephones. Eyewitnesses phoned out accounts all around the world.
Reporters switched on their cellular telephones in Beijing and broadcast
live, and the world was watching.
The China story underscored the potential power unleashed at the
intersection of people and technology networks, culminating in an
epic clash between raw hierarchy and a democracy movement. It also
showed how the voluntary response by individuals directly plugs
into participation in the great events of our time.
Networking Teams of Nations
The empires and superpowers of the Industrial Age are losing their
hegemony. In the early 1990s, the Soviet empire has disaggregated
internally and externally. Japan and other Asian countries are on
the rise. The European Community is coming of age. The leaders of
the world are addressing concerns that they can only resolve on
a global basis: the interlocked economy, global warming, ozone depletion,
AIDS, nuclear proliferation.
If there is not to be one world government, or one or two dominant
superpowers, what is a mode of world governance that will work?
With the little-noticed death of the internationalist dream of a
One World Government in the past few decades, there is a pregnant
pause in history, while we await a new vision of global governance.
The emergence of networks of nations is upon us. This vision of
the future sees multiple international networks where the members
are sovereign nations. Each nation integrates into the global whole
and yet remains an independent entity and substantially self-reliant.
Networks are natural for nations, even very hierarchical ones.
They protect sovereignty while increasing cooperation and benefits.
TeamNets of nations are peer-based and relationship-rich ways to
deal with our world's megaproblems. Myriad international relations
at all levels - grass-roots, academic, trade, professional, religious,
cultural, and personal - thicken the links among the peoples of
Examples of new boundary-crossing alliances are springing up all
over Europe and in many other places as well. The Association of
the Eastern Alps, the Association of the Western Alps, the Celtic
Arc from Ireland to Western Portugal, the European Port Cities Network,
the Working Communities of the Pyrenees, and the Peripheral Maritimes
all create economic megaregions.
These multinational TeamNets are fluid collections of business
members, sharing some core market purpose. Leaders come from private
industry and from public agencies that support the businesses. As
loose associations rather than targeted economic engines, they interact
with many levels of the private and public sectors.
TeamNets are developing at a rapid rate in countries as historically
different as Japan and the United States. Both countries have something
to learn from the other about independence and interdependence.
Japan's cultural advantage is cooperation, while America's is competition.
Japan is learning the game of individual initiative, which conflicts
with the nation's cultural prohibition against being different.
Americans are learning new ways to cooperate despite their tradition
of die-hard independence.
Europe seems to occupy a middle ground. Europe gave birth to Western
civilization's emphasis on the individual, yet the continent does
not worship individualism as fervently as the United States does.
Europe's coordination often comes from the top down, and it involves
many small nations, feudal principalities, city-states, and ethnic
groups. The European Community is one of the planet's grand experiments
at a supra-nation network designed to benefit all its members, national
The United States, with its mushroorning diversity and its tradition
of "rugged individualism," may find it harder than Japan
or Europe to bridge differences. But if the heterogeneous United
States succeeds, it may show the world how even the greatest extremes
can work together productively and profitably.
Despite the bad press usually reserved for the federal bureaucracy,
countless effective networks function among career civil service
workers. A highly effective network at the executive level will
encourage similar networks within and among departments that can
only benefit from working together. If boundary-crossing, horizontal
management works for business, it will work for government. Clinton's
biggest challenge is not the economy, foreign hot spots, or other
domestic issues; rather, it is the ability to organize to do something
about these things.
Clinton's two-day pre-inauguration, 300-person teach-in on the
economy is precisely the type of getall-the-information-on-the-table
session that is the first step in launching TeamNets. The more cross-government,
cross-industry, cross-public task forces working on problems, re-organizing
the government, and proposing action, the more successful the Clinton
administration will be. Participation is a big part of ensuring
that the purpose of the team network is clear and meaningiul. Invite
everyone; some will show up; a few will stay to do the hard work;
everyone feels involved.
Democracies are about self-rule, about involving people in the
decisions that affect them, and about free markets of fully informed
producers and consumers. Participation is vastly more possible today
than it was 200 years ago, both technologically and organizationally.
Participation is not just a good idea morally; it is also a good
idea that contributes to the bottom line and to the quality of life.
Toward the Global People Network
The world today needs a vision.
We need to believe that, with honest work, our lives can improve,
our children can prosper, and our environment can flourish. "Small
is beautiful," said economist E.F. Schumacher. "Do more
with less," advised design scientist Buckminster Fuller. "Think
globally, act locally," counseled Pulitzer Prize winner Rene
Dubos, the co-author of Only One Earth.
To this short list, we add a phrase that is the essence of our
networking vision: "Global people network."
We live in global times - personally, environmentally, and economically.
TeamNets enable people to reach across differences. Networking solves
problems in a way that contributes to the metasolution of the global
problematique: It enables people to work together
We are one planet and many networks - the organizations of the
future at work today.
Reproduced with permission from THE FUTURIST,
published by the
World Future Society, 7910 Woodmont Avenue,
Bethesda, Maryland, 20814, 301/656-8274.