Key Initiator Network Strategy (KINS)
Capital Missions Company (CMC) operates as a founding organizer for sustainability networks using a strategy developed over 29 years by President Susan Davis called the Key Initiator Network Strategy (KINS). This strategy entails:
- The belief that we are all one
- Key laws of nature including distributed intelligence, the “chaordic”, and “emergence”
- The strength of weak ties principle
- The power of peers principle
- The strategy of generosity
KINS is a time-efficient and cost-efficient way to introduce innovation into culture while helping to solve large-scale social challenges. CMC’s vision is to transform the global economy into a globally-sustainable economy through KINS-inspired networks.
A description ~ in talking points ~ of the KINS strategy
by Susan Davis
Capital Missions Company
PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS DOCUMENT WAS PREPARED SOME TIME AGO AND IS BEING UPDATED NOW.
While all aspects of the following description of KINS were written by Susan Davis, the academic citations to back up the theories Susan works with were provided by Douglas Park while he was a candidate for a Ph.D. at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
Overview of KINS
- Existing Theories of Innovation
- A New Theory of Innovation – KINS
- KINS Principles
- KINS Goal and Strategy
- Examples of successful and unsuccessful KINS Networks
- KINS: The Opportunities
- Independent Validation of KINS Success
1. Legitimacy – the support and acceptance of powerful, high-status actors facilitates innovation by making the practice taken-for-granted.
According to organizational theory, legitimacy of an innovation or organizational practice can result in isomorphism. Isomorphism refers to similar behavior by organizations facing similar environmental conditions.
Normative Isomorphism – Social norms induce similar behavior by organizations. As an innovation diffuses, some threshold is passed such that adoption provides an organizational legitimacy beyond any performance benefits. More visible or central organizations are often the standard bearers of legitimate organizational practices and structures. Two factors in particular contribute to normative isomorphism. Professionalization and interorganizational networks of professionals are important sources of normative isomorphism. State rules can give legitimacy to organizational forms and practices.
Mimetic Isomorphism – Uncertainty produces similar behavior by organizations. The basic idea is that uncertainty about what is efficient or effective promotes imitation of organizational practices. Organizational modeling, or the copying of other organizations’ actions, can account for innovation adoption. More legitimate and successful organizations are typically the models to be copied.
a) Normative Isomorphism and Legitimacy
b) Mimetic Isomorphism
2. Social Contagion – innovation is adopted by actors in similar structural positions.
3. Collective Action – Mobilize and coordinate individuals and organizations around an issue or concern.
Effective collective action is not determined only to be incentives or free-rider problems. The pattern of social relations among actors is a crucial factor in successful collective action efforts. The role of social networks has been documented in many contexts, including the civil rights movements and corporate control. Homogeneous interests, a sense of shared identity, and dense social networks increase a group’s ability to mobilize its resources.
- Alchian, Armen. 1950. “Uncertainty, Evolution, and Innovation.” Journal of Political Economy 58: 211-221.
- Davis, Gerald F., and Tracy A. Thompson. 1994. “A Social Movement Perspective on Corporate Control.” Administrative Science Quarterly 39: 141-173.
- DiMaggio, Paul J., and Walter W. Powell. 1983. “The Iron Cage Revisited: Institutional Isomorphism and Collective Rationality in Organizational Fields.” American Sociological Review 48: 147-160.
- Havemann, Heather A. 1993. “Follow the Leader: Mimetic Isomorphism and Entry into New Markets.” Administrative Science Quarterly 38: 593-627.
- McAdam, Doug. 1982. Political Process and the Development of Black Insurgency 1930-1970. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
- McCarthy, John D., and Mayer N. Zald. 1977. “Resource Mobilization and Social Movements: A Partial Theory.” American Journal of Sociology 82:1212-1241.
- Meyer, John W., and Bryan Rowan, 1977. “Institutionalized Organizations: Formal Structure as Myth and Ceremony.” American Journal of Sociology 83: 340-363. ~ Olson, Mancur. 1971. The Logic of Collective Action. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
- Powell, Walter W., and Paul J. DiMaggio (eds.). 1991 The New Institutionalism in Organizational Analysis. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
- Tilly, Charles. 1978. From Mobilization to Revolution. New York: Random House.
The Key Initiator Network Strategy (KINS) taps numerous theories to create one powerful design.
- Matching Markets from management theory
- Network Organizations from organizational behavior
- Social Contagion
- Delphi method of decision making and forecasting
- Strength of Weak Ties from social anthropology
- Peer Leadership Network Theory ~ Utilizes the “Power of Peers”
- Existing Theories of Innovation
- Social Contagion
- Collective Action — Signifies that “we are all one:” “GAIA” Concept
I. Matching Markets
In many business situations, the problem is linking together appropriate partners.
- One obstacle to appropriate partnering is lack of information.
- Trustworthiness and integrity of partners is crucial.
- Successful partnering necessitates careful scrutiny and detailed information.
- Effectively matching partners is usually difficult to achieve in unstructured situations.
- KINS identifies which constituencies need to be involved in the solution of a social problem and brings “key initiators” of these constituencies together.
- Investors’ Circle example
- Primary Matching Market – linking private investors
- Secondary Matching Market – linking investors with entrepreneurs
- Secondary Matching Market – linking private investors with venture capitalists
II. Network Organizations
An organization characterized by flexibility and non-hierarchical relationships.
- One way of organizing economic activity is the market, where actors freely exchange and transact.
- Another way of organizing economic activity is the hierarchy, where an organization systematically controls the actions of individuals within it.
- The network organization, in contrast, adapts to each problem and members independently negotiate relationships across organizational boundaries.
- Deal makers are integrated across organizational boundaries.
- Network organizations are most appropriate in conditions of rapidly changing information and environments.
- KINS uses the network organization as its core structure.
- CMC’s entities organized as networks.
- Examples (Link to CMC’s Networks)
III. Social Contagion
Innovation is adopted by actors who occupy similar social structural positions.
- Individuals and organizations (actors) can be analyzed according to the individuals and organizations to which they are connected.
- Actors who directly interact with each other may tend to mimic each other’s behavior because of direct communication and influence.
- Actors who are connected to similar other actors, but not necessarily to each other, occupy similar structural positions or roles. Such actors are said to be structurally equivalent.
- Structurally equivalent actors are subject to similar normative pressures and standards and are therefore more likely to adopt the same innovations.
- Thus, actors model their behavior after those with whom they have direct relations and those to whom they have similar roles.
- KINS uses social contagion to disseminate innovations developed in the KINS networks.
IV. Delphi Method of Forecasting and Prediction
- The future cannot be accurately predicted.
- Experts in an area can predict the future to some degree and somewhat better than others.
- The best forecast possible may be rendered as follows:
- a. Gather the experts in the field wherein prediction is desired.
- b. Separate them.
- c. Ask them separately to predict key elements of the future in this field.
- d. Identify where their predictions overlap.
- e. The overlap represents the best prediction possible.
- Utilize these “overlap” predictions in assessing the future.
- This method is particularly useful for addressing problems that are:
- a. Long range and require coordinated, concerted actions
- b. Cross-disciplinary, and therefore require the input of many different types of experts and leaders.
- KINS taps the Delphi Method by identifying key constituencies, and supporting each constituency to identify its best design for the future regarding the particular social problem. KINS then helps the key initiators of each constituency to co-design an overall solution that best represents the separate perspectives of each key initiator.
V. “Strength of Weak Ties”
New information is transmitted along weak rather than strong social ties.
- People don’t trust intimates regarding credibility of new information.
- People model their behavior on key influencers in their key circles who seem to share their values.
- When the key influencers transmit new information, the people watching them as models consider it may be true and behave accordingly.
- There is a weak social tie between the key influencers and other people.
- Thus, new information and innovations travel along the route of a weak human tie rather than a strong one.
- KINS does the research to identify the key influencers in the constituencies who have bearing on the problem to be solved.
- As the key influencers work together in the network to design and pilot pieces of the solution, information on the pilots begins to pass to non- network members of their constituencies, who consider acting on this new information.
VI. Peer Leadership Networks
- Identify a large problem to be solved.
- Identify the constituencies which would have to be involved in the solution to the problem.
- Identify the key leaders within each constituency.
- Identify the key influencers (“Chairman”)
- Identify the key initiators (“Heir Apparent”)
- Understand the different roles these two play
- Invite the key leaders to come together around their own self-interest and the larger societal problem.
- Create a network of these leaders by invitation only.
- The “Power of Peers” results.
- The giving and the receiving are emotionally in balance. (Usually top leaders do the giving.)
- Given the cutting-edge information “owned” by each influencer, the information exchange is the most valuable possible – and information is the top asset in business now.
- The Power of Peers will energize the group and ensure its future.
- High renewal rates of CMC networks.
- “A deal is a good deal when it is good for all concerned.”
- Generosity is our strategy.
- Each member does what s/he loves to do, does uniquely well and does as little else as possible.
- Cutting-edge information from each constituency is shared confidentially, building trust among members.
- Members exemplify ‘servant leadership’ – empowering others as well as themselves.
- Every member has access to all the information all the time.
- Every member has equal time at the mike.
- Members avoid “fear-based” decisions.
- We operate like nature, tapping distributed intelligence, looking for emergence and being ‘chaordic.’
Use the KINS innovation theory to solve large social problems by anchoring the solution in the global economy.
- Choose the major social problem.
- Create a Peer Leadership Network using the KINS strategy.
- Create a process for the leaders to use the Delphi Principle to design solutions for the future that work for everyone.
- Example of the picture puzzle.
- Use the network as an incubator.
- Using the Delphi Principle, design workable strategies to solve the problem.
- Use the incubator, the network, to test the strategies.
- Test the strategies until they prove themselves in the marketplace.
- Ask the members, as key initiators and key influencers, to adopt the innovation and promote it within their constituency.
- As they adopt it, the innovation spreads to their constituencies through the “strength of weak ties” and “social contagion” principles.
- Publicize the successful innovation appropriately
Examples of Most Successful KINS Networks (in chronological order)
- The Chicago Network
- Chicago Finance Exchange
- Committee of 200
- Social Venture Network
- Investors’ Circle
- Solaria Investors’ Circle
- Solar Circle
Examples of Unsuccessful KINS
KINS networks with less than optimal results can be traced to these problems.
Problem: Initial funder seeks control and asserts self-interest.
Solution: All funding must be “no-strings-attached” donations to foundations.
Problem: Incubator can be enervated by too many initiatives – each constituency wants its initiative to have priority.
Solution: Members collaborate to prioritize projects and leverage their designs to benefit many constituencies. Members self-organize sufficient resources as they go.
Problem: Control-oriented leaders can create dysfunction.
Solution: Screen these folks out during the research period.
Solution: Founding Organizer must keep “center space” clear until members learn the behavior.
Problem: ‘Emotionally needy’ leaders can create dysfunction.
Solution: Screen these folks out during research.
Problem: Altruistic values are counter-cultural to business world.
Solution: Must overcome competitive ‘win-lose’ tradition. Founding Organizer must ensure collaborative values are adhered to.
Problem: Network’s initiatives can outstrip staff or funding capabilities.
Solution: Initiatives can be staffed and funded outside the Network’s budget.
1. Largest challenge is the transformation of the global economy into a globally-sustainable economy.
2. There are many constituencies which effect this large challenge and they average 2% market share, leaving them vulnerable.
3. KINS can be used to target each constituency.
4. There is synergy between each of the KINS Networks, i.e., The Committee of 200, Social Venture Network, Investors’ Circle, Solar Circle, etc.
5. Each new KINS makes the others more powerful.
6. KINS is a most time-efficient and cost-effective innovation technique as substantiated by its success over the last 25 years.
7. Now, with Tipping Point Network, the numerous ‘silos’ of sustainability have the opportunity to create a holistic approach and leverage their resources with each other.
1. Kauffman Foundation’s 1997 national study of investor networks
- Subsequent “summit” of top experts
- Sharp differences between KINS and others
- Consensus below on KINS features being most effective
Consensus of Experts on Success Factors for Investor Networks
- good relationships = more transactions *
- investor rapport *
- more quality deals = more dollars invested
- value-added pricing better than cost plus *
- willingness of the investor to pay
- the customer is the investor *
- the network must be designed to meet customer needs *
- exposure = leverage
- increase the number of quality investors
- need a champion to spark the network and need motivated advisory board
- need success stories
- educational programs are a key part of the network; we need fully informed buyers and sellers
- higher values are more of a hot button than money *
- relationships are more important than transactions *
- understand the different constituencies among investors *
* Other Investor Networks had not had this emphasis
2. Consulting Firm rollout of solar network compared to Solar Circle rollout – available on request.
3. Family Office Management Convergence Self-Measurement – available on request.
4. Member Testimonials – available on request