Tag Archives: Self-Organizing

Network Design

Action = Permission + Ideas

returning a volleyball

Return the Ball to the Network Members

This is part of an occasional series on network design

One network leader challenge is remembering the network isn’t most people’s first priority, and it shouldn’t be. Another is navigating that the network has needs, too. Resources are limited, and finding ways to meet members’ requests without overburdening those resources is another part of network design. There are easy ways to bump the requests back to members and invite them to take part in organizing the network game.

Principles

Look for and offer win-win solutions, and embrace limits.  People want to participate, they want to contribute and do their part. But they don’t always notice what they can do. Give people permission to act. Harness people’s energy, and then point them in a productive direction.

Look for solutions beyond the obvious choices. This often requires naming uncomfortable issues and being clear about what options are viable. Limits often help people innovate and find third-way solutions.

Example

A colleague mentioned her just-starting network members are eager to get going, but she’s still trying to figure out the people to support the network. Several members will be gathering at conference, and they asked about doing something there. And, she won’t be there to organize. 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!)

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Facilitation

Network Weaving – Accomplish More, Do Less

Network Weaver Handbook

Network Weaver Handbook

For the last nine months, I’ve been exploring a new way of thinking about what I do.  That’s when I went to a workshop on Newtork Weaving, an introduction session to the concept.  I immediately saw ways it could support my work with the Alliance for Healthy Homes and Communities (through Minnesota Green Communities), as well as with the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition.

The basic concept is that by

  1. effectively engaging networks of people who
  2. share one or more common goals and
  3. all bring different resources and skills

you can accomplish more, but do less.  There’s more detail on how to do that, of course.  It includes creating the right sort of common culture, comfort with a lack of centralized control, recognizing both the strengths and weaknesses of people and working with them, and filing in gaps in the network.

Based in social network theory, June Holley has put together a set of writings, tools, activities, and worksheets to turn that theory into something easily used by people who want to do specific things.

I participated in a 5 month intensive practicum on network consulting led by June Holley and Kristin Johnstad, and will be posting more about how I’m translating that learning into action.  I’ve signed up for the Network Weaver consultant team, too. I’m primarily focused on engaging stakeholders, and am using micro-grants, mapping, and specific activities you can weave into regular meetings to build a network-weaving-friendly culture.

In the mean time, you can learn a bit more by watching this video.