Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mapping Networks. Plenty of opportunities. Too little manpower.

I’ve been interested in social network analysis for many years because making resources available to support the growth of mentor-rich programs in all high poverty neighborhoods of Chicago or any other city requires the strategic, on-going and generous involvement of thousands of people from business, philanthropy, media, entertainment, religion, technology and many other sectors, not just leaders of youth serving organizations, researchers and evaluators.

Geographic maps can show where programs are needed, what programs are operating in these areas, and assets, such as businesses, faith groups, colleges, hospitals, etc. who could work strategically to support programs in different parts of a city or state.

Concept maps can help visualize complex problems and strategies for solving those programs, in the same way that a blueprint helps builders construct a house, and engineers, design and build a spacecraft.

Social network analysis maps can show who’s involved in a collective effort to solve a problem, such as making tutor/mentor programs available to more youth. They can also show the changes in social networks (social capital) for youth and volunteers involved in mentor rich programs.

A visual demonstration of this benefit might show values of these programs and motivate business and philanthropic investment, and remove some of the burden of showing measurable gains in social/emotional behavior and/or academic progress which is much more difficult to measure, especially in smaller programs with fewer resources to operate.

Over the past decade I’ve built a sub section in my web library, pointing to uses of mapping and visualization tools. As I visit these web sites I’m like “a kid in a candy store”. I drool when I see the potential of these tools. However, I can’t buy them and apply them to my work because I don’t have the money, the time, or the talent.

Thus, my network building is an effort to find others who not only will supply the technology, but will provide the talent to apply the technology on an on-going, multi-year effort.

I’m part of two groups on Linked in that help me connect with innovators. One is a Social Network Analysis group. Another is a Systems Thinking Group. This map shows many other places where I connect with people and ideas.

During the past week I’ve had three conversations with people I’ve met through these groups.

Cai Kjaer is a Partner at Optimice, based in Australia. We talked about mapping social networks in a Skype discussion on Monday. I first visited the Optimice site more than a year ago, after first learning about them in the Linked In Group. Visit the Friends page and see how you can build your own network map.

Jeff Mohr is CEO at Kumu, which I learned about through the Systems Thinking Group. He’s based in California. We talked via Skype on Thursday. Look at the “Manifesto” on the Kumu site. These are ideas that should offer opportunities for many like-minded people to connect.

Craig Tutterow is a PhD Student at University of Chicago, Booth School of Business. He introduced to the SNA group, showing ways to map and understand your Linked in network. Visit the site and build an analysis of your own Linked in network. Since Craig is in Chicago he has the most potential of connecting people from his network of peers to the work I've been doing.

Since 2011 I’ve connected with others who have innovative idea mapping. With the help of David Price, co-founder of Debategraph, I created this outline of the “mentoring kids to careers” discussion that should be taking place all over the world.

I started using CMaps to show strategy ideas in mid 2005. The map below shows a leadership commitment that would lead to many more mentor rich programs helping kids through school, if more leaders were adopting the strategy in their own efforts. Each node has links to additional maps that describe steps needed to achieve the goal stated in this strategy.

In 2013 Ben VEDA of MetaMaps offered his tool as a way to visualize this strategy and created the map below as a starting point to demonstrate how I might use MetaMaps instead of CMaps to who ideas and strategy, and who's sharing the work of implementing the strategy. I met Ben in this Google group.

In 2009 Valdis Krebs of Orgnetcom spoke about network building at the November Tutor/Mentor Conference held on the campus of Northwestern University.

Krebs donated his software for creating SNA maps and followed up in Feb. 2010 with a workshop showing how to use the software. I recruited three college students and set up this group to recruit students to help me, and while we made some progress, I was not been able to retain student involvement for more than a few months, thus could not do the work on an ongoing basis.

Using an open source SNA tool, one of my interns created maps to show participation in 2008 and 2009 conferences. You can see these here.

There is a pattern here. I have been able to explore uses of these mapping tools, but have not been able to find the talent and resources to fully develop the capacity of these tools, or deploy them in building the network of leaders needed to make mentor-rich youth programs available in more places.

Each of the people I’ve talked to about mapping networks have asked “how can I help”
and in each case I’ve said, “tell people in your own networks about what I’m trying to do, and help recruit partners, talent, investors/benefactors who will support this work, with you involved as a partner.

This map shows talent needed by Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC to have a greater impact on helping mentor-rich learning programs be available to youth in high poverty neighborhoods.

While this is my worksheet, it could be used by any other organization, and/or network to show talent they seek, or to show talent already working within their network. It could be a visualization used by any of the people I've talked with, to show who they are connecting to me and others who want to apply network building and analysis tools to social problem solving.

This is not a new pattern, even though I've had far fewer resources since 2011 than I had in earlier years.
A 1998 Chapin Hall case study of the Tutor/Mentor Connection recognized the difficulty of people understanding the strategy.

The report said "T/MC may be particularly difficult to understand because it does not easily fit within known categories of organizations. It provides some of the supports that a membership organization or association would--such as its newsletter, conference, and public relations efforts--but it doesn’t charge a membership fee or offer a membership identity. It also provides some of the matching services that volunteer associations provide and some of the technical assistance provided by organizations that do training and management consulting but without the fee sometimes charged by such consultants. Moreover, T/MC’s citywide mission to not only support programs but to increase their numbers sets it apart from other types of programs. This confusion appears to be a challenge to fundraising."

This 2010 study by a team of NetImpact volunteers compared the T/MC to mentoring partnerships around the country and illustrated the continuing lack of funding that has made it difficult to develop and implement these strategies.

This week I'm focusing on the 41th Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference that I've hosted in Chicago since May 1994. I'll be sharing information about the conference on social media, via email, and on my web sites.

I created this page on the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC site to point to many of the other pages where I focus on network building. I hope you'll use this as a starting point in learning more.

As I go through this week, and following week's I will continue to look for people who see the potential of mapping networks as part of building the leadership needed to make mentor-rich youth programs available in more places where needed, and who will want to help do this work over the next few years.

1 comment:

Tutor Mentor Connections said...

This discussion on the Stanford Social Innovation Review is important for those who seek to fill talent needs in the non profit sector with volunteers.