The PARTNER tool has been essential not only for gathering evidence and data that ‘proves’ our approach is working in very tangible, measurable ways – but it informs the art of network building. Which relationships are trusting and why? What can we do to support mutual respect and learning? How might we help an organization participate, even though they might not see the immediate value of doing so?
So while we have had some bends in the road, we have put a lot of thought into becoming a Social Enterprise with a focused call to action. While this is definitely a trend that more and more people are interested in, there are not a lot of examples for us in how to do this.
You see, we are all embedded in social support networks, but they are largely invisible, not only to ourselves, but also to the people who care for us. One of the biggest predictors of health and well-being– social connectedness – is also one of the hardest to understand and detect.
Designed with community networks in mind, PARTNER is an organizational network analysis tool that measures and visualizes both the structure and quality of your organizational partnerships. This is key: most network mapping tools focus only on structure: who is working with who. While this is helpful, it doesn’t really provide you the information you need to create a strategy for your network. PARTNER provides metrics like trust, reliability, openness to discussion and mission-alignment, key to improving how your network functions.
Launching any survey can cause anxiety, and while we have made the PARTNER tool as easy to use as possible, users still have questions. Over the years, I’ve put together this list of tips to share with users and am excited to share them with you here!
Unlike traditional leadership that relies on hierarchies and clearly defined authority and power dynamics, network leadership is fluid, flexible & shared between individuals and organizations. Working in such a capacity requires a special set of skills, tools and knowledge to lead effectively. We’ve collected 5 of the top resources for those new to network leadership.
A few mantras and small gestures come to mind that might help to illuminate simple ways that individuals and organizations can embrace the network way, and in so doing unleash emergence – “the way complex systems and patterns arise out of a multiplicity of relatively simple interactions”
What I’d like to share today are four facilitation techniques that were a hit at our fall training that you can use with your next network (or organization’s) meeting or training to foster those a-ha moments and stronger connections among your colleagues.
Like most forms of leadership, trust is the foundation of network leadership. In fact it’s particularly important for collaborative situations, where leaders usually cannot claim formal authority, and rely on voluntary agreements for resources and decision-making. When trust in a network or coalition breaks down, the network breaks down with it. Here are 5 character traits that help you become a highly trust leader, originally compiled by Stephen Covey.
It might not be obvious that you fit in and you might wonder if you should even try, and you might have just spent 15 years on a totally different path, but do not hesitate even one more second…jump, leap, dance, bungee, climb, claw your way there, but go forward. Our team is still teetering between working at a university and launching a data science technology startup. It is not a known, well-understood, or even comfortable place. But we are doing it…because we can, because it’s fun, and because we believe! You can do it too.
Rhizomes are a great metaphor for network leadership: network leadership is about working together to make sure that people in the network are connected in way that encourages flows of resources, information and support to every part of the network. Network leadership is about noticing people or groups who are not being able to access resources and who have been marginalized by the culture of hierarchies, and encouraging them to initiate collaborative action.
Visible Network Labs is the culmination of many years of hard work. Our team comes from a variety of backgrounds, including network science, policy research, training and software development. However the spark behind our mission, tools and services really is our CEO and Co-founder, Dr. Danielle Varda.
Using PARTNER data, network managers can be more strategic in how they build, manage and evaluate their networks to improve processes and outcomes alike. However as with any tool, there can be a bit of a learning curve when you are first starting out. If you’re thinking about using the PARTNER Tool but haven’t launched your survey yet, we wanted to provide some tips and best practices to make the most of your analysis before you get started.
The lesson here is that to be a great networker, you don’t have to be super outgoing, someone who goes to every event, the person with the biggest list of partners, friends, or colleagues. Rather, the great networkers are those that think strategically about how they build their networks and intentionally keep them as small as possible to reach the greatest number of others.
The VNL team is hard at work preparing a new blog for our website! Our goal is to provide our community helpful advice, tips and resources to increase your knowledge of network science and leadership. If you have a topic you’d like us to blog about, drop us a line through our “Get Involved” page. Check back weekly for new articles and advice!