Tag Archives: engagement

Network Design

Jump in! Inviting Work Group Design

 

(Image of two women about to swim in frozen lake.)

Come on in!                               Image Credit Nikolay Dikiy – Купаца!, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15265087

 

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. That’s why designing work groups well is critical to meeting both members’ and the network’s needs.

Over the years, goal-setting and iterative design have helped me develop work groups that make it easy for people to jump in, where participants shape and own the work, and where each group is a jumping off point for a more interesting and useful next round.

Principles

Set goals for your groups, and design to them. Then, use iterative design to improve what you’ve designed. Don’t wait to act, but act in small low-risk ways. Design quick cycles of action, building in time to reflect on what worked, what didn’t, and how to improve it (or set it aside if it’s the wrong approach). Reflecting lets us embrace failure as a learning opportunity. This shift changes feelings of guilt and the tendency to blame into a tool to achieve the ultimate goal. It helps us be brave enough to take risks, to move ahead without certainty.

Example

Most recently, I designed small, short-cycle work groups using an iterative process. read more »

Network Design

Network Design: Members’ Needs Come First

Colors for Holi on sale at a market

Each member brings unique skills and perspectives, and has unique goals. Image credit By Kamalakanta777 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18624345

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

Placing members’ interests and needs at the center of your network’s design and your network’s activities gives people a reason to engage. It also helps everyone hold onto the shared purpose. It reminds conveners and support staff to make activities easy to participate in and useful.

Principles

Focus on offering people value and communicating how network engagement translates into value. There is a lot of competition for people’s time, so it is critical to make sure that activities are valuable for participants. If they are not, people will choose to invest their time in other places where it is more  helpful. Value can come in many different forms. Here are some common benefits I’ve seen draw members in: read more »

Healthy Cities

I’m Talking Cities, Applied Anthro, and Enagagement

JEFF WOOD (THE OVERHEAD WIRE) IS CREATING  A WEEKLY PODCAST AND AGGREGATING NEWS ABOUT URBAN PLACES DAILY

And I got to be featured on the podcast!

I love streets, healthy cities, and all the policies and research behind them. To get my fix of news, I’ve been reading The Direct Transfer‘s daily Overhead Wire newsletter (subscribe here).

I was honored when Jeff Wood, the guy behind those things, invited me to be the featured guest on his StreetsBlog Talking Headways podcast. It was even better when I got to talk applied anthropology, network weaving, equity, and engagement (with a small dose of Oslo, Norway) in our conversation.

If you’re curious, there is 35 minutes of listening here.

Communication Network Weaving

Virtual Meeting Tips for Relationship Building

Google Forms as a call script

Google Forms as a call script

I’ve been experimenting with ways to have interactive, relationship-building meetings for attendees spread across the country.

One of my favorite so far combines a mix of video calls, Google Forms, phone calls and chat boxes.  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?

Communication Facilitation

Seeding Good Network Habits

Supporting networks, or volunteers, or project teams, I find it’s critical to teach people how to use the tools we have effectively. I try to sneak tips into e-mails and to model good habits — hard when you’re in a hurry!

I’ve been leaning on Kathy Choh of Management HQ to help me with this. She provides admin support to NEWHAB. Today I’m sharing the tips we co-wrote last week. This one focused on effectively contributing to and getting the most out of NEWHAB’s Google Group.

Janne & Kathy

Janne & Kathy

 


This is a good introduction to how we use the Google Group if you are brand new to the group, and a helpful reminder if have been a part of NEWHAB since before it had a name.

First, the purpose of this Google Group. This is our main communication tool for the Network for Energy, Water and Health in Affordable Housing.

FRIENDLY WARNING: There are well over 100 people who receive these e-mails, so please be respectful of others e-mail inboxes when you broadcast to everyone.

OPPORTUNITY: There are over 100 experts who receive these e-mails, who want to know what is going on and connect with NEWHAB, so please take advantage of this list to share and solicit expertise as well as to connect with one another.

Tips: read more »

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 »

Network Weaving

It’s About People

Janne

In preparing to introduce myself on the NetworkWeaver blog, I have been reflecting on where I’ve been weaving networks throughout my past work.

There are a few threads throughout my work. My anthropology training shows through with my focus on inclusiveness when defining stakeholders, especially those folks who frequently find themselves on the edges or outside.  Designing an affordable housing project?  I might ask if you got input from the people on the maintenance and janitorial staff. I’m passionate about finding accessible ways to engage.  Today I came across this post about expanding the voices heard  when making local decisions.  Jay highlighted inaccessibility as a challenge of our engagement traditions — and proposed some approaches more accessible to people:

Much of local politics revolves around meetings—what if we found the resources to put those meetings online, to post transcripts and live-tweets? What if there was opportunity for real-time online comment?

Working on a project, I listen to find the unique gifts each person brings, sometimes using that gift to bring them into the project.  Recently I struck up a conversation with someone in my coworking office, discovered he liked to bike and he produces videos.  A few minutes later, he had agreed to produce a video for the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition. Finally, I don’t want to do things, I want to help others learn to do things.  I’m happy to facilitate a meeting, but I’d rather create and test a meeting facilitation template with you, to build capacity in other people. Inviting people in, making it easy for them to participate, using their gifts meaningfully, helping people grow.  Network weaving is about people.

Note:  cross-posted at http://www.networkweaver.com/?p=379