June Holley, Network Weaving 02-21-09 Interview
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June Holley, Network Weaving 02-21-09 Interview



Networks: Weaving People, Ideas and Projects...

Networks: Weaving People, Ideas and Projects
June Holley, Network Weaver, shares an overview of Network Weaving for leaders in community, industry and organizations. June talks about where to start to make positive change in your work, life and where you live. You can learn more about June Holley and Network Weaving at networkweaving.com/blog/ and i-open-2.near-time.net/news/2009/4/20/june-holley-network-weaving-an-overview



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June Holley, Network Weaving 02-21-09 Interview June Holley, Network Weaving 02-21-09 Interview Document Transcript

  • 1 Interview and transcription February 21, 2009 June Holley, Network Weaving Overview of Network Weaving Part One: Innovation Framework [20:25] Hi, I'm June Holley and today I'm going to talk about networks. But first, maybe I'll tell you a little bit about myself. For about twenty five years I helped start up and lead an organization called "Ace Net" in the Appalachian part of Ohio and this organization was based on principles of networking. We helped many, many hundreds of people, most of them low income start businesses and we had very few resources, so we helped them network with each other and help each other out. Many of them were food businesses and they bought jars together, they took things to market together, they helped each other to develop new products, very exciting. And then we networked many of the businesses and organizations such as banks and other non profits, and networked them to these entrepreneurs so that they could work on collaborative projects so that they could build a more effective support structure, so they designed regional brands with these entrepreneurs, they developed new kinds of loan funds and so forth. Very exciting project. The interesting thing was that before we started this organization, I had stumbled upon what was called, "complexity science" and the study of networks. So, much of what we doing was based on that ever expanding body of knowledge, that I found very exciting and one thing I've always been able to do is to read some of the very difficult scientific literature and translate it so people can better understand and that's why I use the word "networks" a lot because it is very accessible we all basically have this gut understanding of what networks are. But then what I found out is that is that if you scratch the surface of that word we don't really know, we don't know how to form very healthy networks, we don't know how to really make networks work not only for ourselves but for others in communities and so I became very passionate about trying to articulate what it was that made a network really healthy and affective. Since I retired from Ace Net three years ago, I've been working now with many, many different kinds of mostly organizations, mostly communities where people are trying to create cross- organizational networks. So, I have worked for the United Nations trying to help organizations in West Africa and the Caribbean network more effectively, I worked with lots of different Latino communities, I've even been working with hospitals where they are trying to use network understanding to be able to get rid of Merca the penicillin Copyright 2009 Betsey Merkel and I-Open. Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution- Noncommercial-No Derivative Works. Institute for Open Economic Networks (I-Open) 4415 Euclid Ave 3rd Fl Cleveland, Ohio 44103 USA
  • 2 resistant Staph infection. So, now I've had all these different experiences where I've been helping people to understand networks. So, I am just going to talk a little bit about what I've been learning it's a very emergent field and its something we all need to work on developing together, but I am just going to give a start to that base of knowledge. I call it sort of a combination of network building is sort of a combination of an art and an understanding and a set of skills. So, today I am going to talk mostly about "network weaving" and that's the term we coined to describe the set of skills and practices that enable a network to be more effective and that make networks have more possibility in them. The first thing that we learned is that if you really to create a more effective network you really have to have a deeper understanding of that network; what Valdis Krebs calls, "Know the net." We do that a number of ways and one of the fun ways is to map the networks and we actually create surveys, I have a web based survey form that then people and ask "Who are you working with?” "Whom do you get new ideas from?” "Who would you like to work with?" and then we map that and then people can see, "Oh, dear, these two groups are not even talking to each other, they are missing out on so much." And then they think of a strategy to bring those two groups together and then that makes your network more effective in most cases. Some know the net. Now, you don't have to have software, you can simply - lots of times I take groups and (ask them to) draw on a big piece of chart paper, draw their network. Circles for all the different people and organizations and then start drawing lines to show the connections. That is very effective. What you are really trying to do is to change what you are noticing and all of a sudden when you do those kinds of drawings you start noticing who is related to whom; who is not. Whose not here at the table, who doesn't know anyone else in the room. So, for example, people discover that they are trying to deal with poverty and there are no poor people in the network. How are they going to come up with a solution that really works? So we see a lot of the problems we've been struggling with so many years haven't been solved because the network that the solution is coming out of is inadequate and missing key people. So, knowing the network. One piece then, I mean to get this really down personal: when you start thinking about your network, whether its you as an individual, business owner, or an organization, one of the first pieces is that you need to start going out and talking to your network. So, you have all these people who are your friends and co-workers, but how much do you really know about them? Do you know enough about them to really engage them well in your network? So, one of the first things we do in network weaving is that help people to go out and listen and ask questions of people in the network. One of the best ways you can get your network better is to sit down and have coffee with five of your friends and say, "Okay, tell me about your network." And then out of the hundreds of people that they know you are going to find our some that "Wow, would you introduce me to them because they are going to make my network so much more effective." So, listening, and it's not just listening. But you are trying to find out particularly about people's gifts. What are they really good about, their passions, what are they really excited about because when you engage somebody in something they are really passionate about, you are going to get so much more energy and attention from them than Copyright 2009 Betsey Merkel and I-Open. Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution- Noncommercial-No Derivative Works. Institute for Open Economic Networks (I-Open) 4415 Euclid Ave 3rd Fl Cleveland, Ohio 44103 USA
  • 3 if you kind of asked them to do something that they are not really that excited about. Another piece of that is what I call just really acutely knowing someone, understanding and accepting who they are. So, instead of meeting someone and feeling like, "Oh, I can't trust them" because they have different views than I do and being able to say, "Oh, I see, this person has this set of beliefs, that's different than me, but boy isn't that wonderful that is going to help provoke my thinking. "I see that this person is somebody that is never on time to a meeting." Well, instead of criticizing or judging them because of that, just say, "Okay, that's the way that person is right now, I'm just going to be very smart and not ask them to do something that requires timeliness. But, boy, that person is so creative, whenever I have a brainstorming session, I'm going to make sure they're there because they are very generative." So, you get to know people and you know their strengths and you draw them in to your network projects, which we'll talk about in a minute, based on their strengths not on their weaknesses. It's amazing how liberating this is, because then all of a sudden you realize you can trust everybody about something. You maybe cannot trust anybody about everything, but as long as you can know and you are very strategic in your understanding of where you can trust somebody, and that enables you to have many, many more people who can be a resource in your network because you can really understand where they fit, who they are. So, that's a little bit about knowing the network, there is much more to it than that but...the next piece is about connecting people. But, some people get confused here and they think the more connections I have the better. What we are finding is that especially if you are on something like Twitter, which is an online micro blogging site and you may follow hundreds and hundreds of people, pretty soon you find out you are overwhelmed. So, it is not just about any connections and having lots of connections, it is being strategic about whom you're connected to and whom you connect. So, we really encourage people and that's one of the advantages of the maps they really give you some concrete information about which some of the key people in your network are. For example, the one that I focus on a lot are people who connect, who we call "connectors”, who are connecting people who wouldn't otherwise be connected. So, maybe you have young people and old people and they mainly hang around with each other, they're not communicating but there's one person that has the relationships with both of those "clusters", we call them, that's a person you really want to know and work with because they're going to be critical in bringing those two worlds together. So you might get together with them and say, "You know I'd really like to get these young people and these older folks together, it seems like there would be so much benefit if we could do that." And you work with them to think about, "Oh, well, I know there's this young person and this senior who are both passionate about photography. Wouldn't that be, can we get them together to maybe think of a photographic project that they might really get excited about? And then we can bring in some of the others as well. So, that person having the relationships in both of those camps, they are going to be able to work with you to...so you see how you don't just try to connect anyone you are really thinking about the benefit that that is going to bring, that connection is going to bring. There's a whole set of ways that you can connect people and we've identified numerous ways so you might just say "Oh, so-and-so, you should talk to so-and-so..." now that may work and often times it doesn't and we really support a more pro-active kind of connecting where you actually invite those two people to have coffee with you and sit down and you are connecting them because you know they have some mutual interest, Copyright 2009 Betsey Merkel and I-Open. Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution- Noncommercial-No Derivative Works. Institute for Open Economic Networks (I-Open) 4415 Euclid Ave 3rd Fl Cleveland, Ohio 44103 USA
  • 4 you are not just connecting blindly, there's some area that might set off some really wonderful sparks. But you bring them together in person and encourage them to get to know each other, both on a personal level because no matter what the interests are, if the chemistry's not there it doesn't work. So, you're trying to watch and sense the chemistry and get them share a little bit about their lives and then you can talk about the areas of mutual interest. Often a network weaver needs to build this whole set of skills we're exploring and identifying that help you to ask the kinds of questions that really get the people engaged in a really deep and meaningful dialogue. And then the key part is how do you move into part three, which is what I call, about self-organizing. Okay, so you have a network, it is not just all about people knowing things its about trying to innovate and explore and collaborate so that we can transform this world we're in or one little chunk of it. And so, to do that, we need millions and millions out in the world, who, they look out in the world and they see things, they see possibilities, they see things that if we tried this out we would at least learn some more about our world and maybe figure out some really transformative ways of doing things. So, what we try to do is, try to help people not only see these possibilities but also figure out whom else they need to do them with and where the resources are and try something out. Experiment and then share what they've learned whether its been a complete flop...because I know personally in my life the times when I've really made breakthroughs is because I've fallen flat on my face, I've made a mistake, some kind of error and then all of a sudden it's so wonderful because it forces you then to look at what you've done in a way that we usually don't bother with and often from that kind of reflection you make the breakthrough. So, how can people feedback what they've done into the larger network so the whole network can learn. So, this piece can be as simple as what I call a "two-sie" where you bring these two people together, this young person and this older person both crazy about photography and you help them move from talking about their interests to scheming some small thing that they might do together. "Well, let's start by researching what other communities have done. Has anyone else done a young and old kind of photography adventure?" and so you encourage them to open up their computers right there and start looking together, they've done their first little self-organized collaborative act with you coaching. And so, then maybe they see that "Oh, yes, here is some real interesting, other places that have done this. Oh, now look at this one and this one is a little different - I like this aspect." So then, they are starting to imagine a project of their own and then you get them as a network weaver to start thinking about, "Oh, well, look they got their library involved, or they got some other organization involved, well, may be we should invite them to the table." So, you help them to start thinking about a little bit bigger collaborative project now which is maybe the actual implementation of part of the project and help them to figure out who they need to invite around the table and then a network weaver will coach them through this process, because one thing I found out is we might know how to work as a team in our workplace where we have very clear team meetings and there are ways we are supposed to communicate and if we don't do a good job we'll get fired, but when we have people working from different organizations, or without that organizational mandate it's really difficult and people don't have even the most basic skills. So, that's a whole additional area I'm real excited about. How do we create sort of online and off line support for these small self organized collaboratives so that they are clear about assumptions because you are having people coming from different worlds, they are Copyright 2009 Betsey Merkel and I-Open. Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution- Noncommercial-No Derivative Works. Institute for Open Economic Networks (I-Open) 4415 Euclid Ave 3rd Fl Cleveland, Ohio 44103 USA
  • 5 almost different cultures and when one person says something other people in the group may interpret it in a completely different way. And so you have to help people check out their assumptions, how are they going to set timelines and tasks and responsibilities and all these minutiae that if you don't attend to make the chances of your project succeeding very slim. So, its very exciting and one of the biggest things that we've learned is that reflection - which is taking time to step back from the action and really look at what you are doing and thinking about "Well, is this working?" Its so amazing how we've just been taught to move forward and do, and we spend huge amounts of time. I really do believe that we could work one-tenth of the hours we do if we spent adequate time in really, really affective reflection processes. So, these small collaboratives are so important, that's how you get to know people, that's how you build trust, that's how you build the skills you need for doing a multi million or a billion dollar project. But we forget about the little bricks that create the foundation for real success. These "two-sies" or very small projects are critical and just a key part of building a network because once people have worked together they're relationship's never the same and sometimes it's worse but that's also good information I mean we don't need to get along with everyone, we need to find out who out there can really gel with us and help what we're doing be successful. So, I think that's probably enough for one session. It's a very exciting field to be thinking about networks and how they can become much more effective and I'm just looking forward to exploring this further both myself and with others. So, thank you. Biographical Information June Holley is president and founder of the Appalachian Center for Economic Networks (ACEnet), a regional entrepreneurship organization in southeastern Ohio. She has pioneered many entrepreneurship strategies, including business networks, policy networks, Kitchen Incubators, youth entrepreneurship, regional entrepreneurship networks, and cluster-focused initiatives. She is a member of the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame and has written more than 30 papers and three books on economic networking. Holley is a sought-after speaker and panelist and has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Ohio Magazine, Entrepreneur, In Business and many other publications. Contact Information June Holley Network Weaver www.networkweaving.com/june.html www.networkweaving.com/blog +1-740-591-4705 Copyright 2009 Betsey Merkel and I-Open. Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution- Noncommercial-No Derivative Works. Institute for Open Economic Networks (I-Open) 4415 Euclid Ave 3rd Fl Cleveland, Ohio 44103 USA