Impact Networks: Creating Connection, Sparking Collaboration, and Catalyzing Systemic Change


Networks are anything that connect people and organizations and Impact Networks bring individuals and organizations together for learning and collective action around a shared purpose

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Key Takeaways

  1. People join a network to do something together that they can't do alone
  2. People can solve simple issues, organizations the complicated, and networks are needed for complex issues
  3. David's personal mission statement - to help catalyze others so they can make their greatest impact
  4. A robust way to grow in a networked world is through connections and collaboration rather than through size
  5. The essential role of network coordination - Network coordinators are the architects and builders of collaborative efforts. Those who perform these roles have been called systems leaders, systems entrepreneurs, network leaders, network entrepreneurs, strategic conveners, and accompagnateurs. Whatever they are called, their primary role is to coordinate a constellation of people, resources, and skills to achieve a shared vision and address complex challenges.
  6. The author describes how network leadership is more inclusive, diverse, and open than in an organisation, they work collaboratively using their strengths and understand they are part of a relationship web. Four distinct roles of network weavers are: connectors, project coordinators, network facilitators, and network guardians, which are outlined together with network functions.
  7. Finally the article outlines three needed changes for networks: power distribution, transparency – allowing work to move outwards to the edges -, and self-directed learning (personal knowledge mastery).
  8. Impact networks are intentional.
  9. Have to enable information into the network, out of the network, across the network
  10. Those who tap into the power of networks realize that everything is interconnected, relationship-based. They are eco-driven rather than ego-driven
  11. A big difference with networks is that leadership is fluid and context dependent rather than hierarchical.
  12. Networks can be learning focused (learning and connections), action (learning, network, and action), or impact (several action networks combined to chase a common goal)
  13. 5 C’s
    1. Clarify purpose and principles - principles operationalize vlues
    2. Convene the people
    3. Cultivate trust - trust + action is a powerful formula
    4. Connection
    5. Collaborate for systems change
  14. Network leaders help connect disparate people and groups to help them thrive. They don’t tell people what to do, just unlocks potential by connecting. They opt to connect and collaborate. 4 key jobs - catalyzing, facilitation, weaving (deepening relationships), coordination
    1. Foster self organization
    2. Promote emergence
    3. Embrace change
    4. Embrace dynamic change
  15. Work to make systems resilient through decentralized efforts and redundancy
  16. Make sure to focus on possibilities more than problems
  17. Help people achieve something they care about
    1. Connect members with similar interests
    2. Ask "why do you do what you do?"
  18. Network health has several key pillars - Network activity, Strength of connectivity, Participant experience - coherence and collaboration, shared purpose, relationships of trust

What I got out of it

  1. Great primer on setting up an impact network, progress it, and assess it. More tools found at Putting the problem / question at the center and connecting any organizations that are trying to solve the same thing is a key differentiator - most companies put themselves at the center and then try to get others to tap into them...

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