Network Strategy

See and Engage the System

When bringing diverse people together to work on changing a system, they need a picture of the system as a whole and its parts. What traditional strategic planning often overlooks is how to get a sense of the whole “ecosystem” of players working in the same space and how to understand the dynamics of the systems we are working to change. We help clients explore the dynamics of the systems they are working to change, considering relationships, feedback loops, historical patterns, and assumptions/beliefs of key players. We use various lenses to consider what it will take to shift these systems to generate more equitable, healthy, sustainable outcomes. Our facilitation and meeting design techniques are critical here as understanding systems requires that you have multiple perspectives from various parts of the system engaged in the conversation and learning process.

Align Work at Various Scales

Clarify What You Do Best

“Do what you do best and link to the rest.” – This principal of network organizing is key. Once you have a sense of the “ecosystem” you are playing in and the larger systems you are working to change, the strategic question we help you answer is:  what niche can your organization/network focus on to be most effective and add value? The answer to this question needs to be revisited on a regular basis as conditions change, work underway delivers results, other organizations take on new roles, etc. We help our clients bring rigor to their decision-making about strategic focus.

"Firestarter" Stories to Understand Network Strategies

FarmtoPlateNetwork Structure

Learning how other networks have organized and focused their activities is a quick and helpful way to frame strategy conversations in networks, especially since network organizing structures are newer to people. We share brief stories, with graphic illustrations and examples, of leading examples of networked collaboration in various fields. This provides a common language and understanding of network theory, presented in an accessible way that can spark thinking about how to design strategies that capture the full value and potential of networked collaboration.

Iterative Design

Network word cloud

When working amidst complexity and constant change, we need ways of working together and structures that enable ongoing learning and adapting based on new developments and feedback and measurement of what is working and what is not. Strategic planning is about developing a clear sense of shared purpose and proposed focus for how that will be pursued, which is then honed and adapted based on the evolving experience, needs and priorities of the network and its members. This means viewing a strategic plan as more of a “living” document that you expect to return to and adjust over time to meet the overall goals. We help our clients develop action learning processes and skills that make strategic planning, reflection, and adjustments an ongoing vital process.