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Networks for Complex Challenges

A spider web glistens with freshly fallen rain. It is a dichotomy being fragile yet so strong. A spider web is about one-tenth the diameter of a human hair, but is ten times stronger than a steel strand of the same weight. The analogy works to describe Networks – in our case community networks. Not only related to their strength but also in that they are evidence of how a spider spins new dimensions and expands connections.

Networks allow these connections to happen without strict rules and heavy “infrastructure.” They provide a vehicle that is dynamic, collaborative and multi-faceted.  June Holley, author of The Network Weaver Handbook (2012), writes that Network approaches focus our attention on relationships and help connect people who haven’t been connected before. They encourage sharing, experimentation and reflection.

How? Holley describes 8 ways that a Network approach works for complex challenges in community.

  1. Improve information flow
  2. Increase communication and awareness of relationships
  3. Increase access to new resources
  4. Expand and support leadership
  5. Encourage collaboration, innovation and learning through breakthroughs
  6. Increase inclusion and bridge divides
  7. Result in better outcomes
  8. Facilitate scale and impact

If you have a big, juicy, complex challenge facing you. Consider a Network – either create one or leverage one that already exists. You’ll find fresh ideas, innovative thinking and opportunities waiting to be “caught in the web.”

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