Closing triangles: A key to stronger networks

“How do we strengthen networks?”

“Close triangles.”

“That’s it?”

“That’s a start.”

That conversation took place between Valdis Krebs and me in 2003. 

Valdis is an expert in social network analysis. At the time I was at Case Western Reserve University continuing to work on an approach to strategy in networks…what became #strategicdoing.

An open-source protocol for designing and guiding strategy in open, loosely joined networks, #strategicdoing is now spreading globally. Closing triangles — what academics call “triadic closure” — fills holes in networks. (See Bianconi et al., 2014:

My guess is that I have completed over 2,000 e-mail introductions since Valdis taught me this practice. It’s one reason, I suspect, that our #strategicdoingnetworks now span the globe. 

Here’s Valdis’ blog post from 2006 that explains a good example of triadic closure:

In this example, I connected civic leaders in Lexington, KY to civic leaders in Oklahoma City. At the time, Lexington, KY was mired in self-doubt. After our visit, they had a clearer direction. During the visit, I introduced former OKC mayor Ron Norrick and Burns Hargis, a leader of our OKC initiatives to the civic leaders in Commerce Lexington. 

Burns went on to be the president of Oklahoma State.