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Network Building – Like Herding Dinosaurs

Network Building – Like Herding Dinosaurs

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Published by Daniel F. Bassill
This article shares ideas for connecting networks of many organizations in an urban area or geographic region who focus on a common purpose such as reducing high school drop out rates or improving graduation rates and preparation for jobs and careers.
This article shares ideas for connecting networks of many organizations in an urban area or geographic region who focus on a common purpose such as reducing high school drop out rates or improving graduation rates and preparation for jobs and careers.

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Published by: Daniel F. Bassill on Apr 28, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Ideas from Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLCwww.tutormentorexchange.netPage 1 4/28/2012 Contact: tutormentor2@earthlink.net
Network Building – Like Herding Dinosaurs
Article posted onhttp://tutormentor.blogspot.comon April 28, 2012 byDaniel F. Bassill, Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC founder.Dinosaurs: they’re big. They can trample you. They can eat you. They have their ownideas on what they want to do, and who they want to hang out with. Hard to get them allin one room, or to keep them there for a long time. Maybe they went extinct becausethey could not work together. Maybe they survived and evolved for 200 million yearsbecause they knew some things that we’ve yet to learn.In mid April I wrote an article that talked of the difficulties big cities face in bringingpeople and organizations together for collective purposes such as helping more kidsmove thorough school and into college and jobs.http://tutormentor.blogspot.com/2012/04/connecting-networks-opening-silos.html I pointed to report by
The Bridgespan Group
that listed challenges such as obtaininglong-term funding, connecting across silos, defining realistic, shared goals, etc. Theseincluded
 * Funding that is largely short term* Leaders who are overstretched, with gaps in organizational capacity* Uneven commitment to resident engagement (community involvement?)* Unrealistic expectations about how much can be accomplished how soon* Limited access to what works - or shows promise of working* Silo-ed thinking
We need to overcome these and many other obstacles
if we’re to solve some of thecomplex problems facing this country and the world. In my own work, I focus oncollecting and sharing information that can be used in many places to help kids who areborn or are living in high poverty move through school and into jobs and careers. I usegraphics such as I’m including in this article to illustrate my ideas.
Ideas from Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLCwww.tutormentorexchange.netPage 2 4/28/2012 Contact: tutormentor2@earthlink.net
We all want more kids to stay inschool, be safe in non-schoolhours, graduate, and move on tojobs and careers and adultresponsibilities.
One of the challenges we face isthat in order to build relationshipsand networks of purpose, someonehas to have a database containingmost of the organizations that needto be involved in the relationship-building process. I use the databaseI’ve been building to a) point peopleto information; b) increase the number of people looking at this information, c) increaseunderstanding of the information, and actions people can take; and d) to inspire peopleto be volunteers, donors, partners, leaders, etc. at one or more youth-raisingorganizations in high poverty areas of Chicago and other cities.
The goal of all of this strategy is to create a better distribution of places helpingkids to careers,
with more leaders who will adopt the commitment and strategy shownin this map athttp://tinyurl.com/tmc-strategy-map, in their own leadership.
Since so many organizations focus on helping kids, with their own networks,funding streams and strategies, the challenge for big cities like Chicago is tofocus everyone on common goals and strategies.
While many aim to unite everyoneunder one umbrella and one set of standards and outcome measures, I’m not sure thatis realistic, or possible.
Ideas from Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLCwww.tutormentorexchange.netPage 3 4/28/2012 Contact: tutormentor2@earthlink.net
I’ve pointed to a wide range of ideas about collaboration, innovation, knowledgemanagement, etc. in the Tutor/Mentor Library athttp://tinyurl.com/TMI-ProcessImp-Collaborationand I think some of these ideas might enable us to find ways to workcollectively, yet operate independently.
I’ve also been creating maps to help groups in the same geographic areas worktogether, or to help groups with common goals connect with each other.This week
I created a new map just to illustrate how many different groups in Chicagoare acting in intermediary roles to connect people they know to each other, and toinfluence actions of the group that affect the well-being of kids.
See this map athttp://tinyurl.com/ChicagoYouthNetworks 
While this map represents a few of the organizations working to help kids, I’m sure it isonly a fraction of the organizations in the Chicago region or the nation who need to beconnected in what I call a “network of purpose”. Each of the nodes in the graphic belowrepresents a network of potentially many organizations and many resources. Unlesssomeone creates a map showing members of the network, and web sites, they are notconnecting their members to each other, or helping leaders and members of othernetworks connect with to them.This graphic is from an essay titled“Building a Network of Purpose” foundathttp://tinyurl.com/TMI-Network-of-purpose 
I’ve been hosting a conference inChicago every six months since May1994
and on June 14, 2012 I’ll behosting a one-day event, invitingmembers of this network to gather,share ideas, build relationships and playways to help more programs obtainvolunteers and financial support as theschool year starts again in August. See

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