In deference to my wise friends Vera and Tony, who are very VERY skeptical about movements (with just cause, it must be said) I will witter about networks rather than use the “m word.”
So, I am going to leave the nature and “goodness” of movem… networks, and whether they can ever “do” a thing to one side, for discussion at a later point.
I want to talk about what “individuals” and “organisations”* can do to make networks grow, to make them denser and richer.
– be conscious, and conscientious, in connecting people who are doing similar things, or have skills each other needs. Sure, sometimes they will already know each other, or the relationship won’t gel, or whatever. Just because you won’t get 100% success rate is irrelevant.
– have the courage to intervene, and the skills to intervene effectively when an organisation that you are part of is doing things that make the “creation of nodes” less likely/more difficult. That means having difficult discussions with friends who are wedded to dreary and counter-productive formats. Ouch.
– have the skills to “model” the behaviours you are trying to encourage (blah blah “be the change you want to see”), and have concrete and feasible proposals for other individuals, and for organisations to do the same. Explain to them why it matters,and the consequences of not doing it (i.e. more of the frickin’ same failure.)
– understand that sage on the stage/ego-foddering is like trying to drive a car very fast with your foot on the accelerator lightly, and your other foot pressing the brake pedal to the metal.
– innovate honestly (i.e. don’t do experiments designed to fail)
– share your innovations, and what has worked and not worked. Keep reflecting.
Ultimately, we have to “lower the costs” for people to become involved.
If we can get them involved without them having to come to a meeting where they don’t know anyone, and it’s a big chunk of time, then even better
If we can make them feel welcome, and help them understand what is going on, and find out what they already know, already can do, then we might start to get somewhere.
We have to “lower the costs” for people to stay involved once they’ve taken the first step.
Is there work they can take on without having to come back to more meetings, without having to become part of a clique? If there isn’t, expect not to see them again. Simple as.
(I am aware that (most) individuals will behave differently in the presence of big/small/supportive/malodorous networks, and that the behaviour of an organisation can be tweaked by key individuals doing or not doing things. That’s another discussion for another day…)