After completing the preceding phases, you should have a substantial network of stakeholders with a shared understanding of the challenges and opportunities within the system. This shared understanding might also include knowing the capabilities of various actors, increased social capital, and a cultivated sense of community. Hopefully, there is interest in continued connection and collaboration.
A critical factor in the development and sustainability of the network is the presence of local leaders who serve as champions for the effort. Identify individuals within the program who have demonstrated active engagement, a willingness to support the ecosystem beyond their organizational interests, and whom others recognize as leaders. These leaders must be trusted and influential figures within the region and relevant fields, as their presence will inspire others to join and actively participate in the network.
Decisions that will set your direction
People you will need to find your way
Technical experts in network design, creation, and facilitation can support the network to get off the ground. They may be involved only for the short-term and hand over leadership and coordination after launch.
This individual or team is responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of the innovation network. They coordinate activities, facilitate communication and collaboration, organize events and workshops, and foster participant engagement. They serve as the central point of contact and guide participants. They, and/or a host organization director, will engage in fundraising and other resource mobilization efforts for the network.
Enthusiastic individuals who actively and naturally promote and advocate for the network’s purpose. They help create awareness, engage potential members, and encourage participation.
These are individuals with deep content knowledge, technical expertise, or specific skills relevant to the network’s purpose, goals, and/or objectives. They contribute their knowledge, offer guidance, and provide insights to other participants.
They advocate for innovation via a deep understanding of the community’s problems and actively promote the importance of addressing complex issues. They are skilled at making a compelling case and communicating their vision. They inspire others to join the network, attracting diverse stakeholders who are attracted to the potential for change.
Local leaders with solid connections and relationships within their communities can serve as bridges, linking the network with local organizations, businesses, government entities, and community members. Their ability to connect different stakeholders enables collaboration across otherwise disconnected groups.
Local leaders possess invaluable insights and contextual knowledge about the community’s needs, strengths, and aspirations. They contribute their expertise to the network by sharing local wisdom, identifying relevant challenges, and providing feedback on potential solutions. Their knowledge helps shape the network’s strategies, ensuring innovation initiatives align with the community’s context.
A group of influential individuals (likely a mix of the roles above) who provide strategic guidance, oversight, and governance to the network. They offer expertise, make important decisions, and ensure alignment with the organization’s goals. This committee or board may consist of executives, subject matter experts, and key stakeholders.
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 top portion of the Mural to support the Network to identify its purpose. Mural Template: Network Purpose, Governance, Values, and Activity Plan.
Additional Resources on Network Building within Systems Change and Innovation:
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