Thursday, August 13, 2015

Want to Change World? Who's Helping?

I'm taking part in an interesting conversation in one of my Facebook groups which is focusing on network theory and how members of a large Facebook community can support each other in achieving common goals. I've offered some ideas from my own work, which you can see if you browse the conversation thread.

I used this graphic in this article, to illustrate my own efforts to support what others do to help high quality tutor/mentor programs reach youth in all high poverty neighborhoods of Chicago and other cities. If you look at the graphics on the Facebook page, they are similar in showing process, however, few focus their process on solving specific problems, like filling a city with great programs which help kids through school and into adult roles...over a period of many years of consistent effort.

Mapping of networks, and the work of leading thinkers like Valdis Krebs, has been introduced into the Facebook discussion thread (Really, you need to take a look). Krebs spoke at a Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference in 2009 and donated his software for my use. In this page I point to articles by Krebs and others about the value of social network analysis. In this page you can see efforts I've been making to map participation in past Tutor/Mentor Conferences.

What I've seen so far from network analysis, is the ability to map what's happened in the past. What I'm trying to do is create a mapping tool that would help groups change what happens in the future.

In groups on Facebook, Linked in and in face-to-face events hosted by leaders in Chicago, many people are gathering. However, I've not yet seen an effort to map "who is in the room" or "who is helping". Below is a "talent map" that I created several years ago to show the range of talents needed to help the Tutor/Mentor Connection succeed in helping tutor/mentor programs grow in Chicago. This map is also the talent needed to help me lead the volunteer based tutor/mentor programs that I started leading in the 1970s.

In a small organization, or a start up, the leader or founder often needs to have many of these skills, or has the ability to attract volunteers and partners who add their strengths in areas where the founder/leader has weaknesses. Over time, if all of these talents are not consistently available, it's not likely an organization will be successful. My own growth over the past 25 years has been limited because I've been missing some of these talents, or they have not been consistently available.

A similar network map, shows that organizational talent needs to represent different networks, or constituencies. If I have a writer from a PR or Advertising company, I'm more likely to gain business support from that sector, than if I have a writer from the local college. Having a highly-motivated volunteer who is an accountant at a small company serve on your board can be valuable. But if you have an accountant from a major accounting firm, who is part of one of the wealthy families in Chicago, you probably have a greater access to the consistent funding you need to hire talent as your organization grows.

Talent matters. So does network.

I talk about talent needed and building a team in this Steps to Start a Program PDF, which you can purchase for a small fee.

I've suggested to others that these concept maps could serve as team building worksheets by any organization, or community network. If someone with a design/technology background could turn this into a form, that people can use to enter data and see a growing network of talent, it would be an even more useful tool. I'm looking for developers who are interested in working on this, perhaps as open source.

I've been part of some Facebook networks since 2011, with participants from all over the world. I've suggested over and over that efforts need to be made to bring donors and investors and other needed talent into the conversation. Mapping who is participating would be a start. Using a worksheet like above, would help focus on future recruitment efforts.

On a side note, I've been disappointed that so few people from the Chicago area are participating in these same groups. These are full of ideas that can fuel the efforts of local activists. I'm not seeing this participation, at least not in the groups I'm part of.

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