There’s power in numbers. But some groups are more successful than others, and those effective groups tend to share some qualities and characteristics that help keep them out of the dust bin of history.
If your group is taking aim at bringing about a big change in your community, your country, or even the world, bring these hallmarks of successful networks to the conversation to encourage dialogue and consensus around strategies, tactics and cultural practices to support them.
Successful Networks Clearly Define Their Purpose
An effective network states its purpose, as well as who belongs to that network and how it operates. This assures members of the network that there’s a governance structure and that everyone’s responsibilities are clear. Typically, a network will also use social media and web-based material to extend its information to as wide an audience as possible and to form connections with other networks, both nationally and internationally.
For example, the London Stroke Network helped clinicians come together to give people in London access to clot-busting treatments that can prevent strokes. When they started out, this treatment was not widely available. However, they worked together to bring it to select hospitals and develop a pathway for treatment. As a result, London now has a world-class service for stroke emergencies. One hospital or clinician alone could not have achieved this, as it required some departments to merge with others and required collaboration across teams.
What, exactly, does your group want to achieve? How will they know when they’ve achieved it?
Get The Right People in the Room
Successful networks often start with a few dedicated people working on a shared interest. When a big change needs to happen, the right people need to be in the room to make the decision. HealthWatch is a network of citizens across England who volunteer to make improvements to health services. By working with professionals, they have managed to make improvements in emergency departments, share practices on training deaf people and much more. Crucially, they have links to senior administrators in hospitals who can help them achieve their goals.
Who do you need to get in the room to help your group propel its objectives forward?
Change Is Shared
A good idea can start small. However, if it works, sharing it can turn a small change into a larger movement. Parkrun started with a group of people who wanted somewhere to go for a free weekly run. Their use of social media and online material meant change was shared and spread rapidly. Today, Parkrun is an international phenomenon that operates in many countries. Events are advertised using social media.
Similarly, a project initiated by one network or organization can spark interest in another. The beauty of networks is that change can be shared rapidly. For instance, Future Class network is based in Korea and operates online and on social media. It enables a collaborative of teachers to come together virtually to share ideas, helping to spread good practices among many other networks, too.
How can your group share and encourage each other to share their work and their cause?
Passionate About Collaboration
People working in successful networks are enthusiastic about sharing ideas and working together. Passion is that magic ingredient that can’t be faked, particularly when it comes from ordinary people who care about a specific issue. In Lebanon, for example, the Offre Joie (offer of joy) Network is a group of people who work together to ensure bomb-damaged buildings and mosques are repaired. They bring together young people from very different backgrounds to achieve the positive shared goal of rebuilding damaged buildings. This shared passion this builds trust and empowers that network of people to expand its message on a larger scale.
How can you tap into the passion of each individual in your group and keep it alive?
These hallmarks are just that, characteristics that many if not most successful groups share. Your challenge is to explore the ways most effective for your particular group to nurture these same qualities of success. When you see them flower and the results that follow, it could well be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life as well as the lives of the members of your group.