Choosing the right modalities for the network is crucial for effective collaboration and sustained engagement. Modalities refer to the network governance, structure, and platforms through which the network operates. Decisions on which modalities to use should center on fostering collaboration among your members.
Network Governance and Structure
Create clear lines of authority, jurisdiction, and decision-making between network governance bodies and members.
Consider distributed decision-making and action
Establish working groups or task forces to focus on specialized areas and generate innovative solutions, especially when given jurisdiction and authority to advance projects and ideas.
Membership roles and responsibilities
Clearly define the roles and expectations of general network members and the requirements to participate in governance.
Meeting type and cadence
Along with expectations, establish a schedule for meetings according to type and their respective cadence so members can make an ongoing commitment.
While it’s tempting to make all gatherings virtual to save on costs on increase convenience, aim for a mix.
Knowledge exchange and capacity building often rank as top motivating purposes for networks and members. Many tools built for knowledge exchange can amplify your network’s messages, call to action, and achievements.
The network will need carefully selected platforms for collaboration. Consider what platforms and tools your members already use. Be sure to have a strategy to onboard and engage members on the platforms actively.
Choosing the right platform is only the first step in fostering collaboration and community. Once you have your space—be it a Facebook group, a Slack channel, or a LinkedIn page—you need to keep it alive and vibrant. Here are a few tips:
Remember, the goal is to create a space where your network members feel comfortable, engaged, and empowered. It’s about more than just choosing a platform—it’s about building a community.
Decisions that will set your direction
People you will need to find your way
The network structure will likely be lean (i.e., one person must wear many hats), or the roles will be distributed across members. As you’re thinking of the talent and expertise you need, consider these roles:
This role manages the network’s day-to-day operations. They coordinate meeting logistics, facilitate communication and collaboration among stakeholders, organize learning and engagement events and workshops, and support relationship and partnership development with and amongst members.
The facilitator guides the meetings and collaborative sessions within the network. They design agendas that encourage participation across the membership, manage group dynamics, and facilitate effective idea generation and decision-making.
This role creates and/or organizes content to share with the membership, maintains communications channels, encourages participation and engagement to generate feedback and reactions from the membership, and other tasks to ensure consistent communication and ample opportunities for members to shape the network.
This role leverages human-centered design to create a positive and purposeful member experience with each of the chosen modalities and as a holistic experience. This role may also be integral in designing agendas and convenings and effectively leveraging online platforms.
This individual will assess the network’s health, vitality, and impact. They will monitor member engagement and relationships, evaluate network resources and structures, and track the networks’ impact.
IT professionals identify, deploy, and support appropriate modalities, software, and tools that enhance collaboration, networking, knowledge sharing, and communication within the network.
Review your plan for these critical elements
Successful networks require a delicate balance of relationships, influence, and timing. To assess readiness and interest in establishing a network, look for the following indicators:
See the warning signs first
Monitoring warning signs is crucial to maintaining a healthy and effective innovation network. By recognizing these signs early on, you can proactively address underlying issues and revitalize the network for greater success.
These resources can help you on your journey
This Mural contains exercises for each step in Phase 4 (Galvanize Champions, Choose Modalities, and Leave Resources). Use the middle portion of the Mural to support the Network to identify shared values. Mural Template: Charter Outline and Drafting Guiding Values.
Network Governance Tools:
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