One of the great paradigmatic changes that can be considered an unequivocal sign of the transition from the second to the third millennium is the transition from a competition culture to another based on collaboration. There are several indications that corroborate a generalized movement in this direction, although the IED must adopt an autonomous stance regarding any trend, for which it will unconditionally assume collaboration as an essential part of its "culture" and "operational model": an option that proves fundamental when faced with creating a more modern and advanced IED. In this sense, the decision taken by the IED to structure itself as a Network already represents a step in that direction: Network is synonymous with "collaboration".
There is no doubt that the Network is a model that is closer to today's students than any other; to which we must add the fact of representing a “statement”, in cultural terms, in the face of the challenge of a more sustainable, less unequal, more rational model of the planet than other, already existing approaches.
An «authentic» Network is also a powerful differential when facing competition and, can therefore offer benefits of commercial value.
The way in which we currently understand the Network is associated with a "form" that is very different from the inherent forms of traditional companies of the twentieth century. The system is now dynamic, vital, which, like every living organism, grows where it can, and contracts where it encounters problems and difficulties; its structure is no longer definitive or stable, but mutant, and its relationships are based on the efficiency of connections rather than on rules or results. Communication is more often point-to-point than via nexus, and its value grows with the successive enhancement that arises from unlimited access to the most diverse energies, processes and collaborations.
Applying these ideas to the IED, we could say that its headquarters are centers whose purpose is to maximize the potential of the Genius Loci and of its specific economic, cultural and social context, making the most of the available resources (especially knowledge, information, contacts) and the relationships that the Network opens up to us all.
The energy that drives the IED is intelligence, individual, and therefore collective, disseminated amongst all its members, together with information - much more than the work modes common to a hierarchical structure.
Obviously, the Network is also an instrument by means of which to relate to the outside. As in cellular structures, each element, especially teachers (who also perform tasks in the professional world) and students are interrelated both within the IED and with the outside real world, thereby multiplying the possibilities of contact and, as a result, of establishing relationships. This implies a partial transfer of control from the center to the periphery, which can be managed in a timely manner, especially in the higher levels of information or image management of the Network itself.
The Network is simultaneously a source from which to extract the essential matter with which the IED is nourished: information and knowledge. Management has the task of setting in motion the logical organization of information, analyzing its relevance and potential and managing it in the most convenient way to carry out the proposed objectives: in short, of carrying out a task of knowledge-mining and knowledge-mapping within the IED itself, to identify the potential that has not yet been manifested and to grant it the value it deserves.
The Network is also a force multiplier, a concept developed by the US Army, which is defined as an instrument and a technology capable of increasing the joint efficiency of the system in order to achieve certain objectives (the classic example is re-fueling in full flight, which allows a dramatic increase in human and arms capacities as well as in a fleet’s radius of action).
The Network entails and implies an attitude and a modus operandi that are quite different from the traditional model, much closer to the mentality of the young people of today, although with a necessary professional dimension. As occurs in any change, it will marginalize those who are not able to adapt, will favor those who have a better predisposition, will require an update of our structures, and will end up working with priorities that are substantially different from those we use today.
Some operational structures will certainly continue to exist, but on a secondary level, since they work well and their relevance is undeniable, but they do not need to be visible; others will be born in order to respond to the demands that will become evident in the process of the transition itself. In this sense, the experience that we boast today suggests we act with agility, skill and speed, planning these changes in a consistent manner that will enable us to devise the future scenario as soon as possible.
The Network is intrinsically “open-ended - the sky being the only limit”. We think of the exemplary heritage Harvard’s Alumni represent for their university; we also think of the heritage that shapes the expertise and the "passions" of a faculty that has already accumulated fifty years of history encompassing two continents; we think about the potential of the huge number of companies which are linked to the IED in different ways. In the midst of a complex and globalized context in constant evolution, the value of the real state that the IED occupies in the world of Design has without a doubt grown exponentially: today the IED is a “switch”, a “router”, a facilitator and catalyst, above all of relationships, dialogues and exchanges.
Every Network project has a scientific and a technological component, but also a third, project component, however its center of gravity will always be the design and management of the anthropological elements of an organism that is in the process of evolving from one with a structure of traditional substance to a model that is more organic and global.