12.4 The dynamic balance of the value network


    It is not a matter of a fixed alliance between the network members in a value network. The network is not always visible as a group. Usually, a value network has a few core members – including a possible client – complemented with the occasional co-creators, and some more people who incidentally provide a requested contribution (resonance). The core members often do not even know the peripheral members, while the source of the knowledge is not always visible. It is more of a cloud or a social value network – I prefer to call it a Social Economic Entity – it almost exhibits Al Qaeda-like structures and movements. Beckstrom and Brafman have named this, in their book The Starfish and the Spider, the Starfish Model.

    In their book The Starfish and the Spider, Beckstrom and Brafman introduce organizations without an evident leader and with apparent little structure. The difference between starfish organizations and spider organizations is staggering. A starfish has no discernable head and will survive if it loses a leg; a fully-fledged starfish can grow out of that lost leg. If a spider loses a leg, it does not move along that well; if the spider loses its head it will die. In which organization would you rather be?

    Teamwork is a nice concept, but working in a value network goes further than the time-honored team notion. It starts with another perspective on objectives. In the traditional team organization, the objectives are usually clearly defined, as is the road that leads to it, like the division of tasks and the responsibility. A value network is predominantly characterized by shared starting points and a path of creation, in a context of collective responsibility, to be discovered collectively

    In the cooperation with or within organizations, the community leader facilitates the process as much as possible, but you can’t call it “managing.” There is an open structure: an appeal can be made for new knowledge and contacts across the entire world outside of the organization. The same can be said for recording and making available the acquired collective knowledge of the value network. The old team thinking is more inclined to keep this to themselves, but value creation, of course, benefits a lot more from open connections.

    Therefore, it is not always clear to the customer who has the ultimate responsibility, while it is not always evident for the participants how any revenue is divided up.

    We actually need (do we really?) a new legal form for these kinds of provisional networks, or constellations. We need provisional formations, pop-up organizations, crowd companies or pop-up value creation groups that somehow legally organized as a Social Economic Entity (SEEs). Within these SEEs, insightful agreements can be made for all stakeholders, including the customer to be. These SEEs can be quickly registered and deregistered in the Registry of Companies (or perhaps even this thinking is outdated). Specialized organizations will start up to facilitate these processes for a modest fee and the organization of the end customer can fulfill a leading or facilitating role, itself.

    Whereas regular organizational teams or departments have the tendency to mark their territories and compartmentalize, value networks have the capability to connect among themselves. Individual members of value networks can organize themselves from one spot or another. The data portability between networks is (because of this) increasing on a daily basis. This is how boundaries continue to dissolve: value networks are exceedingly dynamic, and flow into each other. That is why they are hard to comprehend for outsiders. It is not always a clearly identifiable team or project group that is at work. The work is also no longer done between four walls under one roof, with the name of the organization on the façade of the building. The places where new value is created are hard to distinguish… However, they can, after all, be found in “The Mesh.”