Tag Archives: connections

Network Design

Optimizing Network Design

 

bicycle

Bicycles are the most efficient transportation ever invented. Image source: http://kaboompics.com/one_foto/498/bicycle-handlebar

This is part of an occasional series on network design

A network leader challenge is remembering the network isn’t most people’s first priority, and it shouldn’t be. I use these two principles to help me remember, members’ needs come first. Participating should be fun and easy, like riding a bike.

But members’ needs aren’t the only needs — the network has needs, too. Optimizing the design of network activities is the only way to meet the needs of members AND the network. Riding a bike isn’t only fun, it’s the most efficient way to get around, looking at energy calories per mile traveled. Optimizing your network activity design does the same thing: each activity takes you further on less energy.

Principles

Design activities to accomplish multiple goals. It takes a lot of work to get people organized, or to execute a project. If you think ahead about your (and your members’) goals, you can design each activity or project carefully to leverage each thing you do to achieve several goals. 

Examples

In some of my recent work, we used a kumu network map (thanks to support from Greater Than the Sum). The map offered many benefits to both individual members and the network.  read more »

Network Weaving

Accessing the Advice of Your Peers

These one-time events are an opportunity to get practical and imaginative help from network members immediately. It’s perfect for people tackling a challenge or new project to get a bit of insight from peers who have useful perspectives or who have done the same thing before. Each event has an “assistee” who shares a challenge, a “facilitator” who keeps the process on track and on time, and 6-9 “peers” who share their thoughts.

They tend to be most beneficial when the assistee has a clear purpose and can clearly articulate that to participants. What decision do you face?

I’ve been using peer assists both with local peers, as we support one another through our network-building challenges and with NEWHAB. I’ve found multiple benefits, beyond helping people find new solutions in their work.

  • It’s an accessible way for people to practice network skills like listening and seeing everyone as a leader.
  • Peers report gaining new insight of their own.
  • All participants build relationships with one another.
  • And all participants give something — a challenge, some time, some ideas — starting an economy of intellectual reciprocity in the network.

Here’s the instruction guide I prepared for a one-hour activity I led with a group of peers. Check out the great video above from the University of Ottowa’s Center for e-Learning.

How have you used a peer-assist? How would you change the guide?

Facilitation Network Weaving

Just Get Together, Already!

Credit: Minnesota Social Impact Center

Gathering in Minneapolis (Credit: Minnesota Social Impact Center)

Something I love about networked working is that it’s enough to Just Do Something. Almost anything. Preferably in person.

It’s human to want to plan things out, to get them right. It’s so easy to wait until we have time to do it right to do anything.

Luckily, there are plenty of examples around of just jumping in and doing something together and then seeing the value of connecting emerge when people meet. Those examples inspire me, and they remind me to just schedule something.

In the last three weeks, I’ve been a participant in two gatherings of people leading collaborative networks. They were totally different events. In San Francisco, extending an invitation for coffee or a drink to Eugene Kim transformed into an excuse to convene  15 people, drawn by a pitch that “Janne’s going to talk some about her work and her interests.” (A more prominent role than I’d expected, and I got great ideas in exchange for being willing to serve as case study!)

read more »

Facilitation Network Weaving

How “Thank Yous” Build a Network

I often talk & write about building trust within the networks. Today, I want to take a few minutes to tell you one Thanksgiving-themed thing I’m doing to increase the level of trust in my corner of the world, and I invite you to take five minutes to do it, too.

 

As I’m looking forward to Thanksgiving, I’m thinking about my mom’s training in writing thank you notes (as well as her stuffing). I’m also remembering the out-of-the-blue thank you note I got from an neighborhood acquaintance, Erik, couple months ago.

That note from Erik did two things.

First, it made my day! I had been doing my advocacy thing feeling pretty much on my own, behind the scenes for a couple of years. I was happy to do it, but figured it was invisible to the world. Knowing that someone who I hadn’t talked to for three years had noticed it, appreciated it, and bothered to send me a note made me feel a lot less alone in that work.

Second, I felt closer to Erik. We hadn’t spoken in years, and had never been close friends or colleagues. Despite that, simply by telling me thank you, I suddenly felt like I could call him up and ask him a small favor, or ask his advice. I trusted him more.

 

Remembering that experience, I’m sending personal (email) thank you notes to a few network colleagues, sharing specific things I have noticed and appreciated as we build our connections.

 

Thank you!