Saturday, April 28, 2012

Network Building – Like Herding Dinosaurs

Since so many organizations focus on helping kids, with their own networks, funding streams and strategies, the challenge for big cities like Chicago is to focus everyone on common goals and strategies. While many aim to unite everyone under one umbrella and one set of standards and outcome measures, I’m not sure that is realistic, or possible.

I’ve pointed to a wide range of ideas about collaboration, innovation, knowledge management, etc. in the Tutor/Mentor Library and I think some of these ideas might enable us to find ways to work collectively, yet operate independently.

I’ve also been creating maps to help groups in the same geographic areas work together, or to help groups with common goals connect with each other.

This week I created a new map just to illustrate how many different groups in Chicago are acting in intermediary roles to connect people they know to each other, and to influence actions of the group that affect the well-being of kids.
See this map at

While this map represents a few of the organizations working to help kids, I’m sure it is only a fraction of the organizations in the Chicago region or the nation who need to be connected in what I call a “network of purpose”. Each of the nodes in the graphic below represents a network of potentially many organizations and many resources. Unless someone creates a map showing members of the network, and web sites, they are not connecting their members to each other, or helping leaders and members of other networks connect with to them.

This graphic is from an essay titled “Building a Network of Purpose” that I've posted on-line

I’ve been hosting a conference in Chicago every six months since May 1994 and on June 14, 2012 I’ll be hosting a one-day event, inviting members of this network to gather, share ideas, build relationships and play ways to help more programs obtain volunteers and financial support as the school year starts again in August. I hope some of the organizations from my networks will participate either at the conference which will be held in Hyde Park, or in on-line forums. See details at

I wrote a lot more for this article, but it got so long I decided to try something different. The rest of this article is posted here.

Please tell me what you think. Would you like a longer blog article, or do you like being able to open up the article in document format and save it for your files? If you think this is a good idea I'll consider doing this more often.

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