Tag Archives: listening

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

Surprise! I Love Failure

As we design our new network, I’m very focused on learning. I’m reading books, reading blogs, asking friends, piloting ideas on groups where I volunteer, hiring a coach, and discussing challenges with colleagues.

Because we are inventing something new, I also want to learn from what we do. I’m encouraging activities that move our work forward, using structures that have short cycles so we can iterate and continually improve how we collaborate. To learn from and improve on every iteration, we need to instill a habit of reflection with everything we do.

For the last year, we’ve had “work groups.” The first ones didn’t go so well, so when they ended after a few months, I reflected on the challenges they’d had and redesigned for work groups 2.0 This round went much better.

I also requested an explicit reflection conversation at the end the second round, a half-hour conversation with each set of co-conveners. You can see some of their very rich reflections in this earlier post.

There was one surprise bonus I hadn’t expected from these conversations.

Creative Commons License, credit OtakuAnna

 

While I was very pleased with how the groups had gone, it seemed a few co-conveners felt they hadn’t lived up to their commitments. As the conversations began, regret or apologies rolled quickly off of tongues. The tone changed when I asked them to name what they were most proud of, list what had worked well, offer tips for others who would follow, and advise me on how I could better set up leaders.

After they named things like successful webinars, they offered something really valuable: what they had learned. What started out feeling like going to confession turned into contributing to NEWHAB’s success.

Sure, the content of the conversations will make the 3.0 version even more successful. But to my surprise, the most valuable lesson from these conversations is that taking time to learn from whatever happened transforms (perceived) failure into an important contribution to the network. People feel good leaving that conversation. And that’s a good place to begin building a network.