Feed Your Network

March 26, 2014 Leave a comment

Over the last few weeks I have fielded a number of calls from people who are interested in figuring out how to develop different kinds of networks.  I’m always eager to have these conversations, precisely because there is no single right answer, and it really comes down to a process of discovery and experimentation based on the unique nature of the network and system in question.  That said, I do like to ask people the question, “What are you doing to feed your network?”

I find it helpful to use the metaphor of the network as a garden, and the stewardship body or bodies for the network as the gardener(s).  The way I see it, as is the case with permaculture, the point over time is to evolve to a place where interventions from the gardeners are needed less and less and the garden can do more self-maintenance (or perhaps that everyone thinks of themselves as gardeners).  To focus attention in this way, there are some questions I like to ask about how and the extent to which people are tending to vitality and value in the network.

  • Connectivity/Relationship & Trust Building/Sharing – What is being done to develop an undergirding sense of connection and trust? Do people feel sufficiently bonded? What is being done to keep connections fresh and information and resources flowing?  Is this just about bringing together the usual suspects?  How open is the network to new thinking, people, and perspectives? How are diversity, inclusion, and equity being addressed?
  • Alignment/Engagement/Inspiration – What is being done to help people feel that they are aligned around a common goal/higher sense of purpose?  How are minds and hearts and bodies being engaged to this end?  What kinds of knowing are being validated?  Is there any opportunity for people to “get a sense of the whole” and not just remain in the weeds of the work?
  • Action/Productivity/Improvement – How is “action” being defined in the network?  What kinds of spaces are being created for people to find one another and engage in work of mutual interest?  Are there opportunities for both collaboration and cooperation?  How is learning from work done in the network and by network members being fed back into the network?

As with almost anything that we hope to see brought to life, care and feeding are important.  What are you doing to feed the networks of which you are a part?

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