Monday, June 28, 2004

Eat at Joe's in Remembrance of Me

I am reading a great new book, “The Hidden Power of Social Networks,” by Rob Cross and Andrew Parker. Coincidentally, I am in the middle of the chapter on Problem-Solving Networks. I am going to postpone my continuation of Innovation, Adaptation, and Recovery until I finish this chapter and can incorporate it into my discussion.

Today I’m going to share a personal vignette about the power of networks.

My parents came to visit this past weekend from Pennsylvania. We spent Saturday touring the North Shore – mostly Ipswich and Salem. It was funny how determined they were to eat at two particular restaurants. We drove more than an hour out of our way to eat lunch in Ipswich, head south to Salem for the afternoon, and then go back to Ipswich for dinner.

By appearances, these two restaurants were very ordinary. When I read my guidebook, they got good reviews but so did many other similar clam shacks. But our determination to find these two restaurants was anything but ordinary.

Hungrily searching for dinner, we got lost and must have driven through the corner of Routes 22 and 133 near Ipswich four or five times. All the while we passed by dozens of inviting restaurants, none of which even registered on my parents’ radar.

What drove our single-minded pursuit? I finally asked. It turns out my parents’ best friends and neighbors the Iversons have grandkids in Vermont, and every time the Iversons visit their grandkids they go miles and miles out of their way to eat at these same two restaurants.

As we continued searching, I sat in the backseat and debated whether the Iversons were mavens or salespeople. Did they really know the restaurants of the North Shore, or were they just incredibly passionate and persuasive about these two in particular?

We eventually found our destination and ate a pretty mediocre dinner. So I guess my parents’ neighbors are better salespeople than they are mavens.

Even though dinner was forgettable, my parents and I got to reminisce about our friends the Iversons while we ate. We had found their favorite lobster shack, and the next time we saw them, we’d smile and laugh over our shared experiences.

Who knows if my telling this story to some friends might influence one of them to do the same thing?

3 comments:

Bill said...

So what were the restaurants?

Bernie said...

So the interesting quesiton I took out of this is that a change agent (in Everett Roger's terms) can be so either becuase of a knowledge of people (salesman), a knowledge of networks (connectors) or a knowledge of products. It seems that people who are affected by change might not know which type of agent is addressing them. You parents were affected by a change agent who could appropriately sell restaurants, but it was becuase they know people, not restuarants.

This would assume an almost game theoretical sort of iterative strategy, where doing things based on the recommendations of a charismatic person would generally alter ones network in different ways than doing things based on the recommendation of mavens.

Anyway, good blog, keep it up and you'll have quite a clearinghouse of interesting social network oriented ideas.

BERNiE //U.Toronto//NetLab.

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