Tag Archive: governance

November 6, 2018

Emerging Network Governance: An Evolving Conversation

 

“Community exists when people who are interdependent struggle with the traditions that bind them and the interests that separate them so they can realize a future that is an equitable improvement on the past.”

-Carl Moore (quoted by Dr. Ceasar McDowell)

A couple of weeks ago I attended a gathering of network thinkers and doers pulled together by Steve Waddell and Diane J. Johnson, on behalf of the Emerging Network Governance Initiative. Our time together was designed for us to (1) get to know one another better and our respective work (because that’s what network weavers do) and (2) explore possibilities for collaboration to bring different network processes and forms of governance to bear at various scales in the face of the struggle/failure of traditional government to hold and do justice to demographic complexity and address a variety of social and environmental issues.

We spent some time early on unpacking the words “emergent,” “network” and “governance.” While we did not come to final agreement on set definitions, here is some of what I took from those conversations.  

Emergent and emergence refer to the dynamic in networks and in life in general through which novelty arises in seemingly unexpected ways. 

What is emergent is not planned per se, but rather surfaces through complex interactions between parts of or participants in systems.

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June 7, 2017

Seeing Collective Impact Efforts with a Racial Justice Lens

A couple of weeks ago, IISC was invited to offer a post-conference session at the Collective Impact Forum Conference in Boston. The title of this 8 hour session spread over two days was “Advancing Racial Justice Through and Within Collective Impact.” This was an opportunity for Cynthia Silva Parker and Curtis Ogden to formalize our ongoing efforts to bring IISC’s core collaborative methods, frameworks and a variety of racial justice content and tools to the different elements of the Collective Impact framework.

We were heartened to see and hear the many conversations about racial equity during the main conference proceedings, and noted good and challenging questions and exploration about the fit between the Collective Impact model, such as it has been formally presented and understood, and community organizing and power building work. These conversations continued in some form or fashion during our session. Read More

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February 24, 2016

Network Leadership Roles 2.0

“Network entrepreneurs are keenly aware that they are few among many working across the larger system, and in this way they embody a special type of … leader[ship].”

– Jane Wei-Skillern, David Ehrlichman, & David Sawyer

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Image from Taro Taylor – https://www.flickr.com/photos/tjt195/30916171

The concept of leadership has been undergoing an evolution. In this “network age” there appears to be both an expanding appreciation that leadership has always been about more than the singular heroic individual, and that going forward, leadership really must be much more of a shared endeavor.

In our collaborative consulting work at IISC, leadership (or what we often call Facilitative Leadership) is about “holding the whole,” thinking expansively about the state of a given complex system (community, economy, ecosystem, etc.) and paying attention to what will be required to ensure resiliency and/or change for more equitable and sustainable benefit. In these situations, the traditional top-down images of leadership fall far short.

Network leadership is at best a dynamic, diverse, more decentralized and multi-dimensional phenomenon. Many of those with whom we partner at IISC understand this implicitly, and we have found it important to help them be more explicit about this by clearly delineating the roles that leadership can embody in a collaborative/networked change endeavor. Read More

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June 26, 2014

Network-Inspired Questions for Change

networked inquiry

Picking up on the spirit of yesterday’s post about asking “beautiful questions” and inspired by a staff challenge to articulate lines of inquiry stemming from IISC’s core lenses, I offer this post.  It distills some of the underlying questions that adopting a “network lens” inspires for social change work.  Please add, adjust, edit, and rift!

  • How does your organization/network/change initiative strive to add value to (rather than duplicate) existing efforts?  What do you do best, and how might you then connect to the rest?
  • What are you doing to support and strengthen connections and alignment within and beyond your organization/network/change initiative?

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September 25, 2013

More Cracks in the Network Code


Our friend Jane Wei-Skillern recently co-wrote (along with Nora Silver and Eric Heitz) another valuable contribution to the growing “network building” body of literature, entitled “Cracking the Network Code: Four Principles for Grantmakers.”  This piece is part of Grantmakers for Effective Organizations’ learning initiative, Scaling What Works.  While the guide mainly addresses funders, it also has something for those outside of the philanthropic world.  Its core offering is a set of principles to guide what the authors call “the network mindset”: Read More

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April 3, 2013

New Structures for Health and Security

“Structure is purpose expressed through design.”

– Marjorie Kelly, Owning Our Future

Detroit Voices: A Community Calls Out for Change from Phase 4 Media on Vimeo.

The new food movement, which is really several related but distinct movements, is a beacon of hope in this country.  You can find evidence of this in many diverse settings, from Flint, Michigan to Northeast Iowa to northern Vermont to Oakland, California.  While there are important distinctions in terms of emphasis and core players, one cross-cutting theme appears to be that we must create new structures to better nourish ourselves (calorically, economically, socially) through policy change, different land use patterns, new infrastructure, stronger relationships with ecosystems, new enterprises, and community building.  From the growing number of food policy councils, to alternative financing mechanisms, practices like permaculture and agroforestry, and more intentional network building, people are setting the stage for some significant societal shifts. Read More

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February 15, 2012

20 Questions – Network Style

Social network between the participants of

|Photo by Hans Poldoja|

Last week I was privileged to attend a gathering of practitioners from across sectors to discuss the successes and challenges of working in networked ways.  The Northern New England Network Community of Practice met in Portsmouth, NH for a full day of conversations facilitated by members of Maine Network Partners.  Throughout the day many critical questions were raised about and stemming from net work.  No one pretended to necessarily have all of the answers to these, or to imagine that what works in one case will necessarily work in another.  Nonetheless, we look forward to exploring any patterns that do show up across experiences in our respective network efforts, whether we are talking small or large scale, local or regional, within a sector or across sectors . . . Read More

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September 28, 2011

Dynamic Governance

Given my interest in living systems theory and practice, I’ve been very excited to learn more recently about sociocracy.  I was tipped off by Beth Tener of New Direction Collaborative who passed along a book suggestion in We the People: Consenting to a Deeper Democracy by John Buck and Sharon Villines, which serves as a guide to sociocratic principles and methods.  A unique method of governance, sociocracy applies scientific understandings of how the world works through open systems thinking and complexity to creating more self-organizing, self-correcting, inclusive and efficient organizations.  Read More

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February 10, 2011

Design Unleashed

design unleashed

|Photo by Sebastian-Dario|http://www.flickr.com/photos/sebastian-silva/2207382770|

Paola Antonelli has appeared in various posts on this blog over the past couple of years as one of our favorite purveyors of design thinking and its application to social change.  Now Antonelli is really stepping out.  In an article for SEED Magazine, the senior curator of Design and Architecture at the Museum of Modern Art holds out a whole new and exciting realm of application for design – policymaking, governance, and social agendas. Read More

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January 26, 2011

Roles of Collaborative “Leadership”

networked

|Photo by tarotastic|http://www.flickr.com/photos/tjt195/30916171|

Last week it was my humble privilege to be part of an august team of network thinkers and consultants as we delivered on our contract of working with community-based organizations that are involved in the pioneering Renew Boston initiative.  My teammates included Steve Waddell, Madeleine Taylor, Beth Tener, Tom Cosgrove, Nick Jehlen, Noelle Thurlow, Carl Sussman, and Bruce Hoppe.  Our deliverable ultimately emerged in the form of an action learning forum focused on best practices and challenges around enrolling community members in an exciting money-saving program that promotes energy efficiency and renewable energy. As part of the forum, we collectively offered and demonstrated net work tools and strategies for enhancing overall success.

At one point a comment was made by one of the participants about the importance of leadership, which spurred some break-time conversation between a few of us on the consulting team.  Truth be told, we never came to full agreement as a consulting team on what we mean by “networks” (I’ve learned that sometimes it’s better to avoid conversations about orthodoxy and instead focus on the practical implications of what is otherwise a shared felt sense or essence) but I think we all agreed that leadership is a tricky concept when applied to new distributed ways of working. Read More

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January 26, 2011

Roles of Collaborative "Leadership"

networked

|Photo by tarotastic|http://www.flickr.com/photos/tjt195/30916171|

Last week it was my humble privilege to be part of an august team of network thinkers and consultants as we delivered on our contract of working with community-based organizations that are involved in the pioneering Renew Boston initiative.  My teammates included Steve Waddell, Madeleine Taylor, Beth Tener, Tom Cosgrove, Nick Jehlen, Noelle Thurlow, Carl Sussman, and Bruce Hoppe.  Our deliverable ultimately emerged in the form of an action learning forum focused on best practices and challenges around enrolling community members in an exciting money-saving program that promotes energy efficiency and renewable energy. As part of the forum, we collectively offered and demonstrated net work tools and strategies for enhancing overall success.

At one point a comment was made by one of the participants about the importance of leadership, which spurred some break-time conversation between a few of us on the consulting team.  Truth be told, we never came to full agreement as a consulting team on what we mean by “networks” (I’ve learned that sometimes it’s better to avoid conversations about orthodoxy and instead focus on the practical implications of what is otherwise a shared felt sense or essence) but I think we all agreed that leadership is a tricky concept when applied to new distributed ways of working. Read More

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July 22, 2010

Make It Easy, Make It More

Market

|Photo by Natalie Maynor|http://www.flickr.com/photos/nataliemaynor/2539111053|

I have been blessed these past few months to have been in steady conversation with Adam Pattantyus of Merrimack Management Associates.  Adam’s background is a fascinating blend of military, industrial engineering, management, and clean technology professional experiences.  He is deeply thoughtful and committed to helping bring about the transition to more sustainable ways of being.  And he is the co-purveyor of a promising product and service in the form of an on-line operational infrastructure for collaborative action.  I learn so much from each of our interactions, and our meeting last week left me thinking about how to make much needed collaboration both easier and more ambitious for those interested in realizing deep social change.

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