Naming Constraints and Increasing Network Effects

May 5, 2016 Leave a comment

“Everything we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see.”

– Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In the start-up and at transitional phases of network growth it is important for participants to get real about their constraints. Otherwise, what can happen is that people can start seeing one another as “blockers,” uncooperative, not good team players, etc.

A starting place is to ask people as they come to the collaborative table to start thinking about the constraints they have (real or imagined). These could be related to time, money, mental bandwidth, awareness, political pressure, organizational policy, comfort level with going certain places in the collective work, etc. If we define “value” holistically at the outset, we quickly come to understand that everyone has limitations and everyone has something to offer.

 Trust-building is critical in helping people feel comfortable expressing certain constraints, so it is helpful to state preventatively that everyone has them, that some are perhaps not so easily spoken or may be beyond current awareness, and that it is important to get and remain curious about these, in addition to the gifts people have to offer!

With careful developmental facilitation and ongoing trust building, awareness will grow about constraints (including those that are more imagined than real), people will appreciate more where one another is coming from, and often efforts will be made to compensate for one another’s constraints (offers to pick up more of the slack at certain phases of a project, go to bat for one another, provide stipends, build different kinds of capacity, etc.). These are actually great examples of networks doing what they are meant to do!

Constraints can get a bad name, especially when they remain hidden. And has been written elsewhere, they can actual have considerable creative and focusing power to them. Lifting up constraints is a first step. Embracing them is another, and the subject of another post …

How are you naming and addressing constraints in your net work? 

Restraining Order

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