How to use the diagnostics tools
This set of tools is valuable for networks that are seeking to deepen their understandings of their development needs and improve their impact against their agreed and stated purpose. The diagnostics provide feedback to the whole network stimulating agreement on any changes the network members and leaders choose to make. The diagnostics are designed to be repeated so that the network can adapt, comparing scores over time.
There are three diagnostic tools for networks to use. Please note that Network Maturity Model and Network Health Scorecard tools are designed for use by existing and established networks that wish to reflect upon and review how they are working. They are not especially suitable for newly formed networks. The dimensions within each tool can be a guide for new networks as they design their form and function.
The diagnostic tools are designed to be discussed with a representative group of members in a workshop where you agree what the diagnostics together say about where you should focus your developmental efforts this year.
It is important to note that the real value of using all these tools comes from the dialogue and discussion they stimulate, rather than absolute statements or “scores” that they generate.
Before using the tools you will need to consider:
- How the results will be shared amongst those who participate
- How best to facilitate the dialogue amongst network members
- What resources might be needed to the support the actions that will emerge
Undertaking the diagnostics
So to get started you firstly need to look through the diagnostics and design your own project timetable using these steps below (note the minimum time for all steps is usually 6 months)
The network leader reviews the timeline for completing the diagnostics and schedules the diagnostics in this order:
- The Network Leader completes the core questionnaire (you can do this right now).
- Convene a meeting of a small group of network members and complete the Network Maturity Matrix (we suggest month 1).
- Decide the Network Health Scorecard Survey distribution and completion dates (suggest 2 weeks from distribution to completion) (we suggest month 1-2).
- Pull off your final diagnostics report and share with your network.
- Schedule and invite members to a half-day Network Workshop to review the results (we suggest month 4) and agree action.
The Core Questionnaire
Familiarise yourself with the key features and functions of effective networks below as a reference when completing the Core Questionnaire that follows.
Key Features of Effective Networks
- Shared purpose and identity: members of effective networks display strong network awareness. They feel ownership and they know why the network exists. They have a shared purpose. Members also share a common language and collective narrative.
- Address big issues/ have a compelling purpose: effective work-based networks that sustain themselves normally address big/ compelling issues that are a high priority for key ‘sponsors’ or stakeholders/ members. They are focused on issues that keep network leaders awake at night and therefore - are likely to receive support.
- Meet member needs: while effective networks generally address big issues, they also have to be of day-to-day benefit to members in the network. Ultimately, they either have to help members to do their job or help them to create a change they are passionate about.
- Adapted leadership: leadership of networks is different to other forms of leadership. Power does not come from organisational hierarchy. Effective networks benefit from leaders who have well-developed skills and the time to perform their role.
- Strong relationships and ties: effective networks are characterised by strong personal relationships, high levels of trust and awareness between members. Leaders can play a key role in developing trust and a culture of sharing, using face-to-face to maintain relationships and ties.
- Generate helpful outputs: as well as ‘connecting people’, effective networks tend to generate outputs that are helpful to other network members. Outputs are often developed or co-created based on experience ‘on the ground’.
Completion of the Core Questionnaire should be carried out by the Network Leader with members of their network. If you are looking to register and diagnose a network:
Network Maturity Matrix
This Matrix is used with members in face to face group dialogue.
The value from using the Matrix comes from the discussion it stimulates, rather than the absolutes or “scores”.
The Network Maturity Matrix is designed to stimulate, inform and structure face to face discussions of network members around 8 key dimensions of effective networks.
This is the best way to use the Matrix:
- Schedule a meeting with a representative sample from your network. Between four and eight members is ideal. Larger numbers can be accommodated if you work in smaller groups of 4-8.
- Send the following link Download the Maturity Model Matrix and ask members to read and familiarise themselves with it in advance of the meeting.
- The meeting should be face-to-face if at all possible, and is likely to take between 90 and 120 minutes. The objectives of your meeting will be to explore the model together, assess your network against each area, discuss differences of perspective and identify priorities for improvement.
Running The Meeting
At the start of the meeting, provide participants with a paper copy of the maturity model giving them time to read it through and refresh their memories fully. Download the Maturity Model Matrix here. With larger groups (15+) this can be done in smaller groups of 4 to 8 using the “table top” sized Matrix sheets. Otherwise use a “wall chart” sized Matrix and work with everyone standing around it at the wall, or work with the online tool projected on a screen, filling it in as you go along.
Considering each of the practices (column headings) in turn, and starting at level 1, the group should discuss and agree on the level of capability which best describes their current experience. Differences of view in the group are to be expected and are a valuable source of learning. Record the lower of any scores on the online chart and note if there is a range or responses.
Explore any difference of view together and capture notes about the discussion. In all discussion apply the best principles of group facilitation. Specifically consider the following:
- Ensure that “talk and air-time” is well distributed amongst members. This basically means that everyone should been able to comment and speak uninterrupted. In groups where the power gradient is an issue, use a method that means that people take turns in order.
- Allow differences of view to co-exist. This exercise is not about gaining consensus it is about exploring views.
- Resist any temptation to summarise on behalf of others. Ask additional questions if necessary.
Having completed the self-assessment, note the current levels (directly online is best) and ask the group to select a small number of priorities for improvement (two to three practices is ideal). Resist the temptation to set targets for everything! Ask members to agree upon a target score for where they want to see the network a given point in the future (we recommend 12 months to allow proper time for development actions). Exactly how this target is reached should be the subject of later discussion. Don’t get held back by practical obstacles at this stage. The target is at this point, aspiration. You can ask other networks for ideas and resources on the Source 4 Networks Community page of the website.
Your outputs from the meeting will be:
- Eight current and two-to-three target scores.
- Notes of any key discussion points or questions against each practice, and any general actions or next steps.
Completion of the Maturity Model diagnostic should be carried out by the Network Leader with members of their network. If you are looking to register and diagnose a network:
Network Health Scorecard Survey
The Network Health Scorecard is a validated on-line survey for your members, which explores key dimensions of network purpose, function and form. It gives the whole network feedback on members experience and perception of the network. You can preview the survey here. This tool is a virtual device and therefore can be particularly valuable for networks that are geographically distributed and/or where face-to-face contact may be limited. It can provide a high level “snapshot” or baseline for how the network is operating. It can be repeated at regular intervals to support comparative discussions.
An invite can be sent to each member of your network. This is normally done by the Network Leader.In the message body field, write a message to your members to explain:
- The developmental purpose of the survey
- How and when the results will be shared
- What will be done with the results
The system will automatically add a link to the survey and request their input. It is useful to specify an “end date” for the survey to encourage rapid completion.
Your network's leader has not yet initiated a Health Scorecard Survey.
Under normal circumstances, people complete e-surveys almost immediately or not at all.
It is worth remembering that a 20%-25% response rate is considered to be good for e-surveys.