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The thread is about "Beyond sharing: how can we encourage collaboration among network members?"
And here's the latest answer as an example - from Nadia Von Holzen (SDC):
Hi Ramya, Lucie and Nancy,
Interesting what you write about networks. Thanks also to Nancy for sharing the Re-Amp report, really some great lessons. I can say yes indeed!
In my experience - at SDC where we support a network structure for sharing and learning - time and trust are key factors. I can only join in what Lucie outlined. It takes time to make the networks functional and thriving. (Several) face-to-face meetings are needed to build the community feeling and the natural and spontaneous sharing.
The win-win is crucial. Our networks operate somehow in the triangle between the networks - the management at HQ - and the field offices where the learning ultimately finds its way into programmes. The networks as a horizontal structure reach across departments, geographical distances and institutional boundaries; they are nevertheless embedded in vertical hierarchy and in the line thinking. It's challenging, to work with a non-hierarchical body within a hierarchy - I don't know if this is all the case for your initiative. The Re-Amp report lessons Nancy shared is crucial here: "Design for a networked not a organisation." I would add: or another organisational unit. As well as the lesson of shared and distributed leadership is crucial in my eyes: "cultivate leadership at many levels". Great! And it really matters for the networks to become vibrant to have and promote multiple leadership; for example for the agenda setting.
I think it is crucial that the agenda setting, or the matchmaking as Lucie mentioned it nicely, is done in a way that win-win is possible for all the stakeholders involved (directly and indirectly). Because in the end the networks have to legitimize their activities and their outcomes not only towards their members, but also towards the management (at least at SDC this is the case). The famous indicators come to play their role.
And absolutely go for cooperation above collaboration because cooperation and co-creation have the biggest learning effect. We promote learning projects (instead of working groups, belonging anyway more to the vertical thinking). Learning projects designed as learning journeys with truly challenging questions nobody can answer, make great sense for a networked approach. Check GIZ and Learn4dev promoting the concept of learning journeys. We will post this week a contribution on the sdclan blog on joint learning journeys.
Really all the 6 lessons from the Re-Amp report make from my perspective a lot of sense and I can only say: yes indeed!
For the monitoring, the challenge is not the network development but to make the transfer of learning visible. That's where we are busy with. And here I am keen to hear from other organisations working with networks about their experiences.
Ramya, hope these reflections are useful.