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Closing Our Triangles

Recently I spent a couple of days focusing on social networks.  Weaving Smart Networks: Building Capacity for Positive Change in Organizations and Communities was facilitated by Valdis Krebs, Lisa Kimball, June Holley and Jack Richiutto.  The sponsors of the program, held in Washington, DC, were the Plexus Institute and Aspen Institute.

The whole idea behind social networks is that capacity increases when the connections between people enable open sharing of information and collaboration.  When you seek to understand a network, you undertake Social Network Analysis (SNA) which involves a short survey and mapping software that displays the connections.  A typical network map, as Valdis Krebs has created, will look something like this: (click on the image to enlarge it and see the detail)

As you examine the larger network map, notice where there are points where two people each connect to the same person but are not connected to each other.  June Holley calls these “twosies”.  When the person at the center of that open triangle closes it, the ties become stronger in that part of the network.

Jack Richuitto suggests seven levels of network weaving we are capable of.  Starting with the strongest and most involving and moving down, they are:

7. Introducing A to B in person and offering a collaboration opportunity to get A and B off to a successful partnership
6. Introducing A to B in person and following up with A and B to nurture connection
5. Introducing A to B in person
4. Introducing A to B in a conference call
3. Introducing A to B in an email
2. Suggesting A talk to B and calling B to look for a contact
1. Suggesting to A that A should talk to B

Consider how often you are in the position of closing the triangles through network weaving.  As a facilitator of communication, collaboration, innovation and social change, where does network weaving fit in your personal philosophy?  Are you ready for the opportunities it provides?

Loretta Donovan
Loretta Donovan, founder and president of the Worksmarts Group, has interwoven a passion for exploring the human spirit with an understanding of how organizations create value. She is an ardent advocate for developing the leadership capabilities of people and involving them in solving the challenges of their companies, communities and partnerships.

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  1. Dan Bassill says:

    I first learned of NCDD in a networking event hosted by the Midwest Facilitators Network in Chicago. I've been participating in meetings of that network for many years even though I'm not a facilitator or consultant by trade.

    Yet, everyday I apply many of these concepts in building a network of workplace adult volunteers who connect as tutors/mentors, coaches, advocates, leaders and change agents in the lives of teens living in the Cabrini Green area of Chicago. I lead Cabrini Connections, http://www.cabriniconnections.net, which operates in Chicago. I've led a program like this for more than 30 years and I've realized that the people who are transformed through this process are the adult volunteers as much as the young people. We connect people who live in poverty with people who don't live in poverty, and through the weekly interactions we facilitate a sharing of knowledge and caring.

    In 1993 I created the Tutor/Mentor Connection, which is intended to fill a leadership void that exists in most major cities. We launched a survey process in 1994 to determine what other organizations in Chicago were offering volunteer-based tutoring/mentoring, then begin to invite these programs to come together to learn from each other, and to collaborate on capacity building. We piloted the use of GIS maps to show where these programs are located in relation to where poverty demographics show they are most needed. Using that information, we began to reach out to business, professional groups, hospitals, churches and others to help them learn how they could be more strategic in supporting all of the tutor/mentor programs in the city, not just a few high profile programs.

    With the Internet we have expanded this support to programs and networks in communities throughout the world. At the heart of everything we do and every goal we have is network weaving and collaboration. There are now 300 million people in the US and if we're going to get more of them to look in the mirror every day to say "What can I do to help a kid in poverty be starting a job by age 25?" we're going to have to build one huge network of people working together for this goal.

    That's why I come to NCDD. I hope that by connecting my network to the NCDD network I can recruit a few people with the talent represented in this community to help us lead the on-going deliberation and discussion needed so that more people understand the issues, and begin to be more strategic, long-term, and creative in the way they use their talents, time, and resources, to end poverty for kids who had no choice of where they were born.

    You can read more about this vision on my http://tutormentor.blogspot.com blog. If you'd like to help, just post a message and introduce yourself.

  2. […] Case in point: I’m listening to some of the greatest jazz ever recorded as I write this — streaming off of the front page of johncoltrane.com. The flash player interface serves up 12 Coltrane favorites, including My Favorite Things and A Love Supreme. I came across it while exploring several sites, a trip which I began at the blog of Daniel Bassill, an advocate of volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs who dropped by thataway.org to comment on Loretta Donovan’s thoughts on social networks. […]

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