CORE Group Spring Meeting 2010: Being Bold Together


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CORE Group Spring Meeting 2010: Being Bold Together

Tom Davis, MPH, Chairman, CORE Group Board of Directors

CORE Group Spring Meeting, Tuesday April 27, 2010

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  • Welcome everyone! I am Tom Davis, Chairman of the Board of CORE Group and I’m glad that each of you is here. Let me start by mentioning a few recent developments for the CORE Group. The board is looking at new membership criteria, opening up CORE to more people while still keeping PVOs at the heart of CORE. There are a lot of good reasons to open up the CORE Group to more people and expand our network, but we want to be sure to do it I the right way so we don’t lose the very distinct nature of our community of practice. So the Board plans to take a new look at our membership criteria and we are considering opening up some new membership categories so we can more formally involve some of the people who have worked with CORE Group over the years. Expect to hear more on that over the next few months. Our funding situation is good, not great, but good. Back in November 2009, we sent a delegation – several of your Board members, CORE staff, and executives from CORE members – to meet with Gloria Steele (Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Bureau for Global Health) and others from the Global Bureau, and that meeting turned out very well. We now know that USAID will support the CORE Group through the Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program (MCHIP) agreement, which lasts until 2013, on an annual basis.  Planning is currently underway between USAID and our secretariat to define lines of communication and identify needs in the context of MHCIP's strategic objectives and priorities.  This will create new opportunities for collaboration for us with USAID's key partners for integrated MCH (e.g. JHPIEGO, JSI, ICF Macro, PSI, Save the CHildren, PATH, Broad Branch and other partners) and leverages our network to respond to global priorities and needs through jointly defined deliverables. We are also continuing to diversify our funding sources, and Karen will be talking with you about some of those funding sources. We also are working on some new ways to post and access information in our network. Note that all Working Groups can now post their own content to the CORE Group webpage and we highly encourage that. If you are a WG Chair and don’t know how to do that yet, please talk to Ann, Juliia, Houjke, or Julia. CORE is also looking into using SlideShare, and all of this year's presentations will be on If you Google “CORE Group Slideshare”, the first link should be that site.
  • So our community health network is really growing, becoming more and more visible and valued, and maturing. We need more people to get actively involved with working groups and growing and strengthening their leadership. We are definitely crossing a significant bridge, and have confirmation from USAID that they value our network and need CORE Group to continue to diversify our funding base. The only way we will do that is with your increased involvement.
  • I’m going to be talking to you a bit about what I’m learning about networks, but first I want to ask everyone to do two things for me, and for the benefit of our network. One is to join , and once you have done that, connect to CORE Group there. LinkedIn is basically the Facebook for professionals, except that you don’t get a bunch of people asking you to play Farmville or Mafiawars or to take some silly quiz. What you can do is search for people that you need to connect with and find them pretty quickly, and find out who you know who knows them. I am new to LinkedIn and don’t have my profile and connections totally set up, but with just 68 “trusted friends and colleagues”, I can now easily access over 2,900 friends of my friends, and over a quarter million people who are friends of friends of my friends. Now according to some research, I actually influence those people and they influence me … we’ll get to that later.
  • Secondly, I want to ask you to consider posting your projects to People don't just want a snapshot of a project anymore. They want more of the details so they can appreciate progress as it unfolds. Once you have entered your content on this site, there’s a user-friendly timeline that solves that problem for you by syncing with blog posts, photos and videos of the projects that you have uploaded.
  • It also makes it easy to geotag all of your projects so others can see exactly where you are working. Online followers can subscribe to your project feeds and receive targeted updates in real time. Once they are following your work, you can offer them creative opportunities to get involved with your project beyond just donating – which is what people want. This is a new age, and you cannot expect everyone to just come to your organizational website to learn about your work. You need to put it somewhere where people are looking at a range of projects and making decisions about where to put their time and resources. I think this is a fantastic, free tool that we should all be using to highlight our work. I have met the developer, and think we can have some influence in terms of the features that are available to us, too.
  • CORE Group is a network, and here are a few of the books that I’ve been reading this past year on social networks – and we aren’t talking here just about things like LinkedIn and Facebook, but the run-of-the-mill, face-to-face social network ties between people in the communities where we work and in your life.
  • Here are some of the fascinating things that we are finding out about these networks: Your friends’ friends’ friends can make you fat – or thin. Your future spouse is likely to be your friends’ friend. We influence and are influenced by people up to three degrees removed from us, most of whom we do not even know. Your friend’s friend’s friends have more impact on your happiness than $5,000 in your pocket. And these are not some wackos with eight balls saying this – Christakis is a Harvard professor and they are using the Framingham Heart Study dataset to test hypotheses. This is a graphic from one of many recent studies that show that certain behaviors and conditions spread through social networks in a measurable way up to three degrees. On this graphic, each dot represents a person, and the size of the circles are proportion to the person’s BMI. Yellow dots are obese people and green dots are non-obese. Notice the clustering of obesity (red circle) and lower BMI folks (green circle). Happiness, voter turnout, substance abuse, and suicide are all contagious – they all spread through social networks. Like flocks of birds changing direction in unison, we are unconsciously led by the people around us. What about the behaviors that save women’s and children’s lives? There’s no reason that they would not spread like this, as well, but those behavior – to my knowledge – have not been studied.
  • But these findings are important for us as a networks, as well. Studies on social networks have shown that just about all social networks are “scale-free” – that is, they look a lot more like the network of airports than they do the network of highways. There are always some people that have a lot more connections than others. These are the “hubs”. If you look at a graph of the connections in social networks, you’ll see a Log-log type curve (like this), not linear or even logarithmic: A curve where the number of connections drops precipitously.
  • As members of the CORE Group, I want to encourage you to strive to be a hub . (Research shows that most hubs are older, so you still have time if you are younger and not a hub yet.) The hubs are often the ones that hear about things first, and the ones who spread new ideas to a lot of people. They put their ideas out there, but they also listen to others, pick up on what is working, and promote others’ ideas. We have quite a few hubs in CORE, and CORE functions as a hub itself amongst agencies. It is both a network through which ideas can be transmitted, and functions as a superorganism at times that vets ideas, decides what should move forward, and shines a light on what is happening that is saving mothers and children’s lives. But sometimes I think we are not fully accessing what can be done with our network. When was the last time that you asked a question on the listserv? I don’t see near enough questions there, people looking for information, wanting to know what people have found that works in a particular context, etc. Or put forth a very unique idea in CORE Group and tried to convince others of its potential value? Or led a rousing debate at your working group meeting? Are you connecting with people by presenting ideas you have learned about through CORE and your own ideas in new forums? We know the value of community health, but we all really need to make time to get our ideas out there, and to transmit the lessons learned through our network out to more and more people outside of our network, especially to powerful people in NEW forums.
  • I know it’s not easy. But I’ve been trying to make more and more time for this, especially in terms of Social & Behavior Change – the WG I’m on – and I know some of you are doing so, and I see CORE Group member ideas and tools spreading as a result. For example, the Food for Peace Technical Reference Materials now mention quite a few CORE Group tools like Partner Defined Quality, the Designing for Behavior Change curricula, Barrier Analysis, Care Groups, TIPs, and the PD/Hearth materials. That happened because some CORE Group members promoted that and linked with the main author of those TRMs.
  • I attended a global training of the Peace Corps Program and Training Officers in Easton MD last month, and they are very excited about our behavior change tools and methods. They have already done trainings on a few of our tools on several continents, and they are rapidly spreading. More than that, they are increasingly talking about making behavior change central to what they do, and having the tools in place to help them do that. A former CORE Group member is championing that, and another reason that those ideas are expanding is because there’s now a webpage with narrated PowerPoints on some of our SBC methods like Care Groups and Barrier Analysis: We need to link with them concerning our M&E tools, nutrition tools, etc.
  • Here’s another example of the value of being bold about CORE. This little book is the best book ever written on community-based social marketing. It’s #29 on Amazon’s list of sustainable development books. So I wrote to Mr. Smith, and told him what CORE Group members were doing, and asked him to work with us on a Social & Behavioral Change Working Group as part of a proposal that CORE was submitting. He said, “I am very flattered and would love to help.  Count on me.  And you have to start calling me Bill.”  Now this other little book, Switch , is #1 in both Amazon’s Organizational Change and Applied Psychology rankings, and #37 of all books Amazon sells right now. I looked up the authors and Dan Heath happens to live in Raleigh, NC, so I thought I would write to this fellow Tarheel since he did not know about CORE (and everyone should). I told him what you guys were doing, and asked him to join us in CORE’s plan to change the world, and he said, “Count me in. How could I resist a call to arms like that?” So people WANT to help the CORE Group – sometimes all you have to do is be bold and just ask.
  • I got invited to go on the State Department plane heading down to Haiti after the earthquake, and as a result, I got to talk to some influential people. Someone asked me, “when you met Hillary, what did you ASK her?” I reminded them that when you get to meet someone that influential, it’s not what you ask them, but what you tell them. And so I talked to Hillary about the importance of communications in Haiti and how what the Radio stations were saying and not saying could make all the difference in how people in Haiti would respond to the disaster, something that we have learned through social marketing projects and our own experiences in developing countries.
  • When Haitian women want to get something done, they often send a delegation to speak to leaders on their behalf. So learn from them, and don’t always ask on your own behalf or your organization’s behalf –I’m a nobody, you’re a nobody. Instead, ask boldly on behalf of our network . CORE Group is not a nobody. Together, we are a force to be reckoned with.
  • Now I have been able to do some things with my little network of people – these are my Facebook friends, a few of you are in this green cluster – and I bet you anything I’m not the one with the most connections here. I’m just knocking myself out because YOU have influenced me, and I am concerned about you. Heck, I LOVE a lot of you. And – like all of you – I definitely love the women and children we serve and realize that they deserve more than they are getting, and we need to change that.
  • So to close, just remember: This is you without CORE. (Read points.)
  • And this is you as a part of CORE….
  • CORE Group Spring Meeting 2010: Being Bold Together

    1. 1. CORE Group Spring Meeting 2010: Being Bold Together Tom Davis, MPH CORE Group Board Chair
    2. 2. Recent Developments <ul><li>Additional CORE Group membership categories: Not yet, but soon. </li></ul><ul><li>Stable and increasingly diversified funding situation: USAID-funding of CORE through MCHIP for FY11 (and hopefully beyond). </li></ul><ul><li>New ways to post and access CORE Group information: Working Group pages, </li></ul>
    3. 3. Getting there <ul><li>Not there yet … but we are growing, becoming more visible, maturing. </li></ul><ul><li>Need more people to get involved with working groups and growing/strengthened leadership. </li></ul><ul><li>Crossing a significant bridge: Confirmation from USAID of the (1) value of this network and (2) need for CORE Group to continue to diversify its funding base. </li></ul>
    4. 4. PLEASE JOIN!
    6. 7. Must Read Networking Books <ul><li>Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives (Christakis and Fowler, 2009) </li></ul><ul><li>The Tipping Point (Gladwell, 2002) </li></ul><ul><li>Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard (Chip & Dan Heath, 2010) </li></ul><ul><li>Tribes: We Need you to Lead Us (Seth Godin, 2008) </li></ul><ul><li>Linked: How Everything is Connected to Everything Else and What it Means for Business, Science, and Everyday Life (Laszlo Barabasi (2003) </li></ul>
    7. 8. Social Network Analysis Findings <ul><li>Your friends’ friends’ friends can make you fat – or thin. </li></ul><ul><li>Your future spouse is likely to be your friends’ friend. </li></ul><ul><li>We influence and are influenced by people up to three degrees removed from us (your friends’ friends’ friends). </li></ul><ul><li>Happiness, voter turnout, substance abuse, and suicide are all contagious. (What about EBF, getting TT, purifying water?) </li></ul>
    8. 9. Properties of Social Networks <ul><li>Social networks are “scale free,” and look more like </li></ul><ul><li>this… </li></ul><ul><li>than this: </li></ul>… where a few nodes have lots of connections. … where most nodes have similar numbers of connections. Hubs have a power law distribution…
    9. 10. Your Place in the Network <ul><li>Strive to – like CORE Group itself – be a Hub </li></ul><ul><li>Ask questions, use the network </li></ul><ul><li>Put forth unique and potentially valuable ideas (even if they are still questionable) </li></ul><ul><li>Lead a rousing debate in your Working Group </li></ul><ul><li>Present in new forums and connect with other powerful hubs in new forums. </li></ul>
    10. 11. Your Place in the Network <ul><li>Strive to – like CORE Group itself – be a Hub </li></ul><ul><li>CORE Group member ideas and tools spreading … </li></ul><ul><li>In Food for Peace TRMs </li></ul><ul><li>In the Peace Corps </li></ul><ul><li>To the Secretary of State </li></ul>
    11. 12. Your Place in the Network <ul><li>Strive to – like CORE Group itself – be a Hub </li></ul><ul><li>CORE Group member ideas and tools spreading … </li></ul><ul><li>In Food for Peace TRMs </li></ul><ul><li>In the Peace Corps </li></ul><ul><li>To the Secretary of State </li></ul>Lauren Erickson-Mamane … CORE Groupie
    12. 13. Be Bold – Just ASK!
    13. 14. 2 nd Most Powerful Person in World… CORE Groupie offering totally unsolicited SBC advice… What the WHAT? That guy has a lot of nerve…
    14. 17. This is You without CORE Often on a precarious perch Limited inputs (e.g., CH technical knowledge, best practices, tools) Limited Outputs Ability to fly solo … but not as far Limited knowledge of feeding sources Disconnected … sometimes depressed and burned out
    15. 18. This is You in CORE Protected VISIBLE Well-resourced Connected! Impressive Nimble