Recent webinars in the Focal Point series have looked at this from different viewpoints. In September, Sophie Edwards and Jo Godman ran ‘Building the Plane While Flying it’, the lessons learned from a year in the life of a new national community of practice. There was also a compendium of resources provided on Spotlight for developing networks.
please see links to these at bottom of this post
In July, Chris Collison shared ‘The 7 Deadly Sins of Knowledge Sharing’ covering some of the behavioural aspects of networkers.
So let’s look into this a bit more given it is such a key topic. I recently attended a workshop run by NHS Improvement where Chris Collison spoke – he gets around! One of my many takeaways was that if members are going to become engaged they really need to know what it’s all about. Many people will join a network because it’s a subject that interests them. For example, some of my Instagram and Twitter feeds are about physical exercise, nutrition and general well-being. However, I don’t feel I have much to contribute other than maybe tagging the fact that I think it’s important to stay fit and active particularly as you get older. There are other people who are qualified to provide actual advice and so forth. Also, in many instances I am not clear what the group is actually about.
So, when you are involved in a network and want members to engage and share let them know what it’s all about and what they might do to support the network.
Be clear about the Purpose: What is it we are trying to achieve? What do we do to move towards that aim? What is in scope and what is out?
Define some aspects of your internal process and Governance: How shall we share and learn from each other? How shall we interact?
When you know what your purpose is then how will you measure your progress and show that you are having an Impact and adding Value. Are there quantitative measures that you can use? What about the qualitative measures? Are there patient or practitioner stories to share? Do you have an impact story that shows where you started from and the progress being made? (We are going to run a Focal Point webinar in the New Year on this subject!)
You could develop a Network Charter as the building block to developing your use of the Network Diagnostics that will enable the network to set developmental or stretch targets. The Maturity Matrix is particularly useful for this and is an evidence based tool. There are 8 dimensions to it and they cover the aspects mentioned above, namely Purpose, Governance, Impact and Value as well as Leadership, Knowledge Capture and Reuse, Integrity within the network, Learning and Improvement and Sustainability. These will flow from getting the foundations of the network right from the start and spending some time developing a clear Purpose that will define how you will be able to show Impact and Value and what the internal responsibilities and processes of the network and roles of members will be.
Consider the following framework or outline for a Network Charter
- Define the Purpose
Look at your Membership and what are the roles people can play in the network, how members should behave towards each other, e.g responding to posts, requests etc. and what resources are available.
Define your scope and what you will focus on and what will be out of scope; the ways you will work together (virtual, face to face, emails, chats, webinars etc.
How will you measure progress and celebrate and share successes