Guest post by Laura Efurd
While we continue to grapple with some key questions around supporting, investing in and growing networks, on day two of the conference we got a bit more down and dirty with practical matters like “how to”.
We started the morning by reflecting in small groups on emerging insight and strategies. My favorite insight from this session was the comment that sometimes it is as simple as having conversations. Though we might not have the whole networked world figured out, that if we just begin by having intentional conversations, getting out from behind our desks and take small steps to have conversations, listen and learn from people. Other ideas coming out of this included the need for flexible funding (e.g. an innovation funds), creating new incentive for change, and creating a community of practice (hey, isn’t that what we are?)
I really appreciated all the small group time, and next we had time to explore 3 of 10 or so topics of interest such as, Leadership in Networks, Network Weaving, Assessing Network Effectiveness and so on. While my head is still spinning from all the great discussion, my favorite discussion was some one-on-one time with Scott Spann with Innate Strategies exploring strategy and networks. There were the only two of us in our group. We explored questions like when and how does strategy happen in a network, and who decides on the strategy. I also got a chance to noodle on some mistakes we’ve (ZeroDivide) has made in supporting networks in the past and re-imagine some our current work in a more networked way. Specifically, it generated this idea of focusing our technology assessments in a more “networked way” by focusing not on functions of the non-profit (operations, communications, programs, service delivery), but to focus on what they are trying to achieve – education, inform, connect or activate! A big shout out to Scott!
In the afternoon we focused on specific tools – social media, mapping, strategy and assessment tools. I learned about two great online tools to help curate content: Storify (http://storify.com/) a way to create stories through social media content and Scoop it (http://www.scoop.it/) a way to collect social media items on specific topics and share with others.
Now we are deep into reflection mode….hmmmm I guess that means there is more to come.