Choose Modalities

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. 

  • In-person Gatherings: Organize in-person workshops, conferences, or social events to facilitate face-to-face interactions. These events provide opportunities for deeper connections, trust-building, and creative problem-solving. Ensure that the gatherings are inclusive and accommodate diverse accessibility needs and perspectives.
  • Virtual Meetings: Virtual meetings leverage technology to bring people together who may be geographically dispersed. When paired with strong experience design, they enable discussion and collaboration on projects, knowledge exchange, and relationship building. The choice of tool depends on the specific needs and preferences of the network and the licensing limitations of the network backbone or “host” organization.   Virtual meeting tools may have mobile applications, allowing participants to join meetings and collaborate on their smartphones or tablets. This flexibility facilitates engagement and participation from anywhere with an internet connection.

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.   

  • Training and Capacity Building: Training opportunities to enhance the skills and knowledge of network members build the shared capacity and readiness to act strategically. Training can include content topics unique to the network and technical skills needed to coordinate and advance the network effectively. 
  • Site visits and exchanges: Opportunities for stakeholders to visit project sites, learn from each other’s experiences, and exchange knowledge builds a “hands-on” understanding of systems innovation. 
  • Newsletters: Keep everyone updated on your network’s latest achievements, upcoming events, or essential readings. Consider your audience’s preferences: how often would they like to hear from you? What kind of information do they find valuable? What format do they prefer? Is it a quick bullet-point update or a detailed story? Finding answers to these questions will help you create an effective newsletter strategy.
  • Podcasts and Webinars: Think of podcasts and webinars as your network’s radio shows. They’re platforms for deeper learning and discussions about the topics that matter to your network. Do your members prefer listening to interviews with experts on the move (podcasts), or would they rather participate in live discussions and Q&As (webinars)? It might be worth testing several formats before settling on one that gets the most engagement.

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. 

  • Social Media Platforms: Platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, or WhatsApp can act as the town square for your network—places where members can connect, share ideas, and keep the conversation going. The choice between a professional platform like LinkedIn and a more casual one like WhatsApp will depend on the nature of your network and the preferences of its members. However, members will unlikely use social media platforms they don’t regularly use.
  • Collaborative Tools: Whether it’s Slack for quick chats, Trello, Asana, for project management, or Google Workspace for document collaboration, these tools are the workbenches of your network. Choose intuitive, user-friendly tools that meet your network’s needs. Don’t forget to check with your network members about their comfort level with these tools—after all, even the best workbench is useless if no one knows how to use it.
  • Social connections and celebrations: Consider hosting open houses, coffee chats, or “happy hours” (or the culturally appropriate version) to boost informal connections and trust. 

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:

  • Regular engagement: Keep the conversation flowing by posting updates, discussion prompts, questions, or fun challenges. The more opportunities members have to engage, the more likely they will feel part of the community.
  • Facilitate connections: Encourage members to connect. You could create subgroups around specific topics, introduce networking activities, or spotlight members’ achievements.
  • Encourage inclusivity: Ensure everyone feels welcome and heard. Establish community guidelines promoting respect and open-mindedness. 

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

  • Which modalities support the purpose of your network? Which are most important to your success?
  • How will you balance in-person versus virtual convenings? How will you maximize the strengths of each?
  • What tools and platforms are your members already using? How can you leverage these existing habits to build connections?

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:

  • ​​Network Manager

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.

  • Facilitator

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.

  • Communications and Engagement Coordinator

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.

  • User Experience Designer

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.

  • Evaluation and Learning Coordinator or Consultant

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.

  • Information Technology (IT) Consultant

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:

  • Consider the capacity for consistent implementation: Prioritize modalities that the backbone organization can fulfill.
  • Query the network on preferred platforms: Member and stakeholder preferences should prioritize determining which modalities to invest time and energy into creating and maintaining.
  • Design for a strong value proposition: Member participation and engagement is voluntary. Remember to consider the value proposition of these modalities for members carefully. Consider prototyping and testing modalities before committing to one.

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.

  • Declining Engagement: Engaged members are vital for the success of a network. If communication channels have infrequent participation or become dormant, meeting attendance decreases, and collaborative efforts diminish, it could be a sign that the network is faltering.
  • Absence of Collaboration: Collaboration between members generates value for the organizations and individuals involved. When members collaborate, they are both exercising and generating benefits. If members aren’t cultivating relationships outside of convenings, it could be a sign that investment in the network is low and returned value hasn’t been established.
  • Absence of Knowledge Sharing: Knowledge and resource sharing support overall network growth. Suppose there is a lack of ideas, best practices, or lessons learned being freely shared. In that case, it suggests that the network is not fostering inspiration that results in positive interaction and knowledge flow.
  • Resources and Capacity: It’s possible to design a network that is too costly or time-consuming to run and/or participate in over the long term. Make sure modalities fit the expectations and capacity of the network.

These resources can help you on your journey

This Mural template from GKI’s AI4Resilience program contains exercises for each step in Phase 4: Galvanize Champions, Choose Modalities, and Leave Resources.  The exercises include helping the Network define its Purpose, Governance, Values, and Activity Plan. In Choose Modalities, you will outline the Network’s Charter and draft its Guiding Values.

Network Governance Tools:

*These resources come from GKI’s Caribbean Corporate Investment for Resilience program.

Additional Tools:

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