Last week I participated in the Network Leadership Training Academy hosted by the University of Colorado at Denver’s Center on Network Science. It was wonderful to meet fellow network geeks and enthusiasts from around the country and Canada and to hear about diverse applications of network theory and practice, from public health to public transportation, from early childhood education to after-school programming, from housing to firefighting.
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?
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”
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.