Every other year since 2005, twelve executive directors have received a surprise phone call from the Barr Foundation inviting them to become Barr Fellows. The Fellowship includes a three-month sabbatical, group travel to the global south, executive coaching, two retreats annually for three years, and the opportunity to join a diverse network of peers.These leaders come from around the city. They are from the neighborhoods and from downtown. They are from all different races, genders, age and subsectors of the nonprofit ecosystem (like education, health, housing, arts, environment, youth). They span the City building bridges across a history of race and turf issues, and a high concentration of nonprofits. As a result leaders didn’t trust each other. With the support of Interaction Institute for Social Change, these leaders are finding themselves in a conversation with each other that they never before imagined. Using circle methodologies and empowering questions, they deepen their relationships, and build trust across divides that have torn at the fabric of the City before.
The Network now numbers forty-sevenFellows. Over the past seven years, fellows have formed authentic and honest relationships with each other across differences of race, gender, age, and nonprofit subsector. The more trust and social capital they have built the more easily it is to seek each other out for ideas, advice, support and collaboration. Investing in” slow” social capital, as Pat Brandes, the Foundation director says is beginning to pay off. that are built the relationships, the as personal relationships have evolved within and across the first four cohorts, turf-bound competition has given way to what the Boston Globe calls “a web of collaboration rippling through the nonprofit community with increasing effect.” The creation of deep, personal connections of trust, respect, and care for each other is far and away the Fellowship’s currency for social change. When the moment ripens for that change to happen, the network activates to bring about a better Boston. In the parlance of network theory, the “quality of the ties” really matters.
Connections: This person has introduced me to people or resources that have helped me do my work Thought leadership: This person has introduced me to ideas and perspectives that have broadened my thinking in valuable ways Working partnership: This person has helped me advance my work Personal support: I have turned to this person for support in a personal situation (work-related or otherwise)
Here is the thought leadership map. There are four cohorts of 12 in the network, characterized by the four colors in the map. The red and the blue are the earliest cohorts and they are introducing each other to new ideas, perspectives, and ways of thinking across cohort boundaries. Green is increasingly sharing with red and blue, and gold, the newest cohort is still learning mostly from each other. Why is this important? Because the development of Innovative solutions starts with sharing and connecting diverse ideas and perspectives.
We are also looking at where the strongest working partnerships are among clusters in the network. I have circled two clusters that are working closely together. The maps validate, and raise questions about “twosies” and smaller clusters that may be working together. Barr provides strategic support to working clusters when they reach critical momentum. This has taken the form of an interim principal for the Academy so that it could seek approval from the Boston School Committee and launch operations a year before accepting students, and facilitation assistance to build a broad nonprofit network of support for the Boston Promise Neighborhood initiative. The working partnership map provides a relational view of collaboration across the network. Many questions can be asked: Where are their clusters and what are they doing together? Where is there collaboration across sectors, across classes? What are the stories of Where are there triangles that can be closed? Mossik and John have the highest number of reciprocal ties. That means they have strong relationships many fellows in the network. Both Mossik and John are actively engaged in Boston Promise, and other education initiatives.Meg and Vanessa also have quite a few reciprocal ties. Notice the kite pattern in the upper right, this is the core group that is working on the Margarita Muniz AcademyNotice what happens to Claudio, fewer reciprocal ties…raises a question, more than provides an answer [point out the importance of not over-interpreting one map]
Be sure to know how to facilitate diverse groups, to acknowledge power dynamics and create opportunities for deep sharing and exchange.Beware of having an agenda to get to a particular outcome; be sure not to put money in too soon.Be sure to look beyond the Barr network to identify and acknowledge other key roles in the network who are not Barr Fellows. Always the danger of being too insular.
LLC Webinar on Networks 2.14.2012
FEBRUARY 15, 2012The Promise and Perils of Supporting andEvaluating Network Formation andDevelopmentA Leadership Learning Community WebinarKim Ammann Howard, BTW informing changeMelanie Moore, See ChangeClaire Reinelt, Leadership Learning Community
Objectives • Better understanding of some of the opportunities and challenges of network formation and development • Questions to ask and strategies to use for evaluating network formation and development1
Patterns of Network Growth Scattered Clusters Hub-and-Spoke Multi-Hub Core Periphery Time Where most network-building begins Self-sustaining networkValdis Krebs and June Holley. Building Smart Communities through Network Weaving. 2006. 2
Do Networks Lead to Collective Action? • Assumption: Linking organizations with similar visions and missions will amplify their effectiveness • For example: • Building a citywide racial justice agenda • Broadening constituency of environmental movement in state3
What Gets in the Way of Collective Action? • Lack of clarity about purpose of network—What do you want us to do? • Lack of capacity for collaboration and uneven capacity across network members • Lack of a sense of urgency to work at a collective level4
What Supports Collective Action? • Network management is essential—someone needs to have the big picture in mind • Other strategies complement network action, such as commissioned research, communications and leveraging relationships • Trust/relationship building is facilitative, but not always essential • Political moments—the spark that ignites collective action5
What Questions Should Evaluators Ask About Networks & Collective Action? • Are network participants at similar levels of capacity for collaboration? • Is there a motivating “political moment” for a network to respond to? • Is organizational or network-level capacity building occurring? Are these acceptable outcomes? • What is the source and quality of network leadership and coordination? Is someone driving the train? • What other funded activities complement the network’s work?6
Networking for Community Health Core • Improve project capacity of grants Build and maintain individual partnerships clinics and Learning partner Improve community organizations community health • Enhance Flexible Develop collective mini-grants Collect and leaders capacity of use data the network Customized and broader technical community assistance A project of Tides and The California Endowment7
Types of Networks Tight-Knit Organization Broader Community Organization Clinic Hub-and-Spoke Organization Organization Organization Organization CommunityOrganization member Clinic Clinic CommunityOrganization member Organization Organization Organization8
Key Drivers for Evaluation • Pilot to cultivate innovation for specific health issues and context • Information for learning, reflection and application for funder, grantees and others involved • Document what happened and impact for broad sharing9
Evaluating Networks • Complex, dynamic and porous nature of networks • Similarities and differences among network projects • Networks as part of a greater whole • Networks as a strategy and impact • Different ways of knowing and telling10
Formation & Cultivation of Networks • Network capacity assessment • Funding distribution • Flexible design and supports • Availability of external assistance • Informing support of network development9
Designing for Network Emergence: The Barr Fellowship • Recognize and rejuvenate seasoned executive directors in Greater Boston’s nonprofit sector • Enhance distributed leadership and capacity at Fellows’ organizations • Cultivate a network of place-based, cross-sectoral nonprofit leaders11
Desired Network Outcomes • Authentic and honest relationships among fellows • Greater sharing of ideas, advice seeking, personal support and collaboration among members of the network that benefits the community • Increased social capital that spurs innovation and transforms the DNA of the social sector in the City of Boston12
”The Barr Fellowship Network has taken 5–6years (understandably) to bear fruit andcreate the scale of projects and the level ofcollaboration to have real impact for lots ofpeople. We’ve done some one-off thingstogether on a limited scale affecting hundredsof people, now we are starting to do thingsthat are affecting thousands of people….Thescale of the network, and the time and moneyinvested in it are the key points. The hypothesisis that it takes time, consistency, and a realcommitment to make this a potent networkthat produces results for large numbers ofpeople. That does not happen overnight.”16
Network Evaluation: Mapping Connections and Telling Collaboration Stories • Connections • Thought leadership • Working partnership • Personal support13
Thought Leadership This person has introduced me to ideas and perspectives that have broadened my thinking in valuable ways. 2005 2007 2009 2011Map prepared by Patti Anklam14
Working Partnership This person has helped me accomplish work-related tasks. Showing reciprocal ties only Margarita (two-way mentions) Muniz Academy Boston Promise Health & Human Services Arts & Culture Environment Education Youth Immigration HousingMap prepared by Patti Anklam15
Parting Advice on Designing for Network Emergence • Create an environment where leaders can build trust with each other over time • Provide strategic facilitation and resources to support ideas to mature to scale • Map the evolution of the network, and tell collaboration stories publicly17
Network Evaluation Resources • Next Generation Network Evaluation: Scans the current field of network monitoring and evaluation with the goal of identifying where progress has been made and where further work is still needed. Innovations for Scaling Impact and Keystone Accountability, June 2010. http://www.scalingimpact.net/files/IDRC_Network_IPARL_Paper_Final_0.pdf • Network Health Scorecard: Developed by Madeline Taylor and Peter Plastrik, focuses on key aspects of any network: purpose, performance, operations, and capacity. Its designed for group use—network members answer each question and then discuss their answers—or on your own http://bit.ly/zFoMCU • June Holley, Network Weavers Handbook. Practical guide with hundreds of practical tools for building strong networks, including the network weavers checklist http://www.networkweaver.com/ • Network Effectiveness - Diagnostic and Development Tool: This is a tool for assessing the health of a network and is intended for use by individuals working within or through social change networks. It was developed by the Monitor Institute. http://www.slideshare.net/workingwikily/healthy-networks-diagnostic19
Network Evaluation Resources (cont’d) • Social Network Analysis and the Evaluation of Leadership Networks This paper offers a framework for conceptualizing different types of leadership networks and uses case examples to identify outcomes typically associated with each type of network. Core social network concepts are introduced and explained to illuminate the value of SNA as an evaluation and capacity-building tool. Written by Claire Reinelt and Bruce Hoppe. http://link-to- results.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=48&Itemid=55 • Catalyzing Networks for Social Change: Developed by Diana Scearce and the Monitor Institute in collaboration with Grantmakers for Effective Organizations. Focuses on how to assess and learn about network impact. http://www.geofunders.org/home.aspx • Networks that Work: A Practitioners Guide to Managing Networked Action by Paul Vandeventer, President & CEO, Community Partners and Myrna Mandell, Ph.D. This guide covers a range of issues to consider before you decide to create a network, as you create a network and while you pursue networked action. It includes case studies, checklists and questions, samples of materials, Web links and a list of other available resources. http://www.communitypartners.org/networks/20
Contact Information Kim Ammann Howard, BTW informing change 510.665.6100 | firstname.lastname@example.org Melanie Moore, See Change 415.558.8662 | email@example.com Claire Reinelt, Leadership Learning Community 781.863.0435 | firstname.lastname@example.org