Network Development Toolkit

Civil Society Network Development ToolThe Tree Network Development Tool is exclusively designed for Innovation for Change Hubs. It recommends a set of flexible, adaptable steps that serve to encourage Hubs and their members to frankly review the current state of network development and inspire them to creatively explore the most effective capacity building solutions to meet self-defined network needs.

Click here to watch the training video (EN) or download the full PDF (EN).
 

Table of Contents

Section 1

Section 2

 

Civil Society Network Development – A Tool for Network Self-Review, Consolidation, and Expansion

Foreword

As citizen voices become amplified, and civil society actors become more effective, there has been a backlash from government in many countries around the globe, resulting in restricted freedoms for CSOs. CSOs seeking to amplify citizens’ voices, defend human rights, advocate for changes to restrictive government laws and policies, as well as those focused on service delivery are finding themselves increasingly marginalized and can face both physical and digital security risks.

 

The Innovation for Change (I4C) Vision

In response to the erosion of civil society in so many countries, I4C was formed with the broad vision to promote, strengthen, and connect a vibrant, pluralistic, and rights-based civil society in open, closing, and closed spaces through the establishment of demand-driven and cutting- edge Innovations for Change Hubs initially situated in 6 regions of the globe.

Innovation for Change Hubs

Each Innovation for Change Hub will share the broad I4C vision while adapting it to its own conditions, resources, and stakeholders. Each Hub will further self-determine its governance structure, management infrastructure, staffing, and revenue generation schemes.

Each Hub will have a framework with the following common elements:

  • The mission and guiding principles
  • The roles each hub plays and its related services
  • The governance, management, and operational structure
  • The business model and funding critical to sustaining operations

Beyond the broad vision, the Hubs will share five guiding principles

  1. Build upon what already exists
  2. Support grassroots and local actors: Adapt and respond to changing conditions
  3. Drive participation, innovation, new practices, and learning
  4. Adapt and respond to changing conditions
  5. Ensure civil society ownership and accountability

Innovation for Change Hubs will fulfill four key roles in line with the guiding principles

  1. Facilitator and convener
  2. Matchmaker and broker
  3. Innovator and sandbox
  4. Advisor and counselor

The Hubs will encourage digital and/or physical peer-to-peer learning, and will serve as support platforms for CSOs to access and develop the latest approaches and tools (including new technologies) to address their most pressing issues, and to support the promotion of civil society space and the amplification of civil society voices around the world. The hubs will also serve as a platform for civil society to connect and form strong relationships with new partners in civil society, academia, and the private sector; to cultivate innovation by supporting CSO efforts to test new or improve old approaches in advocacy, research, or service delivery; to pilot use of new technology; and to share successes and failures more broadly: face2face and byte2byte.

Capacity Development Challenges

Civic networks represent a diversity of organizational structures, services, size, geography, cross- sector partnerships and lifespan. The main challenge is how to capture and channel the value inherent in diversity for greater impact on civil society strengthening.

Based on the premise that strong organizations make strong partners it is essential to ensure that the Hubs become sustainable mechanisms for civil society network development in their own regions, as well as catalysts and facilitators for cross-regional partnerships and knowledge sharing among civil society actors, stakeholders, and service users.

How do we know if we have been successful in network capacity development? How can we assess the organizational development and sustainability of the Hubs, the quality and value of their services to their members, and their ability to consolidate and expand their networks to maximize impacts on civil society strengthening?

The Network Development Tree Model

Network Development Tree model promotes consensus building as well as key network values such as participatory decision making, inclusion, transparency, and mutual respect. It also aims to raise awareness of numerous benefits directly related to partnering, as a response to the alarming trend of shrinking civic space and the worsening environment for civil society work worldwide.

The Tree Network Development model introduces the Network Development Tree Tool that promotes a collaborative and adaptable process for analyzing the institutional strengthening of the Hubs, network partnership facilitation and development, and consolidation and expansion of the Innovation for Change network itself.

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Introduction to the Network Development Tree Tool

The Tree Network Development Tool is exclusively designed for Innovation for Change Hubs. It recommends a set of flexible, adaptable steps that serve to encourage Hubs and their members to frankly review the current state of network development and inspire them to creatively explore the most effective capacity building solutions to meet self-defined network needs.

What is the purpose of this tool?

Designed for periodic self-review and continual development of networked civil society collaboration, the tool is an integral part of Innovation for Change Hubs’ overall strategic support to tailored capacity development of civil society networks worldwide.

It enables deeper understanding of the nature of a network’s capacity building needs while determining whether the network is effective in achieving its mission through partnership and network consolidation and expansion.

Three Tree Tool Stages

Use of the tool enables users to start considering their networks as a dynamic, tree structure that originates from the Hub, The Root, which evolves to cooperative partnership agreements, The Trunk, and results in the consolidation and expansion of a vibrant, inclusive civil society network, The Branch.

There is no one right way to approach network development. What individual and collective capacity gets assessed, prioritized and developed, should be driven by the questions the Network Hub or its members want to know?

Why self-review instead of external review?

Self-review is one of the best ways to gain buy-in and ownership of the organizational development process.

It engages Hub staff at all levels, network members, and external stakeholders in a learning process that is strength-based – identifying what works and can be built upon, and then identifying the best ways to move forward.

The self-review process also encourages and commends adaptive learning for addressing the financial and programmatic sustainability of Hubs, the effectiveness of partnership agreements, and the successful consolidation and expansion of the entire network.

What are the benefits of the Tool to the Network Regional Hubs?

Periodic use of the Tree Network Development tool will enable regional hubs to track the levels of dynamic engagement of their networks. This user- friendly mechanism will help networked civil society understand the way contributions and benefits are mutually reinforcing. Network leaders will be able to examine the mechanisms in place to foster trust- based relationships among members and to ensure that current and new members are in alignment with the network’s core values, vision and mission.

What are the benefits of the Tool to Network Members?

Based on the premise that strong organizations make strong partners, the Hubs should encourage their members to adapt the tool to assess their individual strengths and areas for improvement.

In addition to these common benefits, there are likely to be a range of further rewards that are specific to individual network members. Ideally these too would be acknowledged and shared at an early stage of the partnership to enable mutual appreciation of each other’s specific priorities and to ensure that all members understand completely the expectations each partner has from the network.

Adaptation of the tool by Hub members includes the following benefits:

  • improved governance and strategic management
  • professional development of key personnel
  • improved operational efficiency
  • more appropriate and effective products and services
  • enhanced learning and innovation
  • enhanced credibility
  • enhanced financial management systems
  • financial and programmatic sustainability
Use of the tool for risk analysis and prevention

It is beneficial for both the Hubs and individual members to analyze the risks and rewards that may arise from being involved in a network partnership. The tool will enable each network member to understand the potential risks and rewards associated with network membership.

If Hub members are to commit themselves to genuine collaboration and the principle of mutual investment for mutual benefit, it is of crucial importance from the earliest stage of network development, to be aware of and understand key motives, needs and expectations of all the parties involved (See Appendix 2).

While it is common for each network member to believe the risks to their organization are greater than to any other, the Tree Network self-review findings will prove that most categories of risk apply to all partners.

Risks may include:

  • Reputational impact – all hub members value their reputation and will rightly be concerned about whether that reputation can be damaged either by the fact of the network itself or by any fall-out in the future should the fail to achieve its mission
  • Loss of autonomy – working in a network inevitably means submerging the institutional ego for the good of the whole
  • Conflicts of interest – whether at strategic or operational level, network commitments can give rise to split loyalties and / or to settling for uncomfortable compromise
  • Drain on resources – networks typically require a heavy ‘front end’ investment (especially of time), in advance of any appropriate level of ‘return’
  • Implementation challenges – changes in the external environment in one or more member countries, such as closing civic space, could require modifications to in-country or cross- border joint initiatives and a reassessment of the respective roles of participating members.

 

The Network Development Tree Tool Process

Remember

The Tree tool is a valuable feedback mechanism for determining overall network success:

  • The Hub’s organizational capacity and evolution towards sustainability
  • Partnership agreements that reflect shared vision, mission, investment, and benefit
  • Network consolidation and expansion

Target audiences
The Innovation for Change Network Development Tool is designed for the following targeted audiences: regional Hub staff, others who coordinate and participate in networks, innovation practitioners and regional resource persons who are willing to share their practical skills and expertise.

The Tree tool implementation is based on participatory methods. When planning collective learning and self-review events, it is important that the participant selection represents a cross-section of the network’s members, such as board members, volunteers and civic activists. The ideal group has up to 15 members.

Introducing the tool

Participants in the Tree Tool process will be briefed by the Hub facilitator on the following:

  1. Motives: Why the network capacity self-review is being conducted.
  2. Timeline: The Tree model aims to measure the current state of network development.
  3. Self-review Process: Explaining the practicalities, introducing the three phases of self- review, the scorecards, and the scoring system.
  4. Follow up: What will happen after self- assessment; explaining the process of Acceleration Plan development and capacity building interventions.
  5. Rules: There is a need for participants to be realistic, bearing in mind that the process provides an opportunity to build on strengths and identify areas for improvement.
What is the practical setup for the Tree Tool process?

On average, each stage of the Tree Network self- assessment process can take between four and five hours to finish: the bigger the group, the slower the process. Each assessment session is followed by three to four hours of brainstorming and Acceleration Plan development.

How to form a Tree Group
It is critical that selection of participants for the Tree Group represents a cross-section of the network’s membership. The Hub should be represented by Board members, volunteers and/or staff at various levels. The Tree Group should also include representation from organizational and network development experts, innovation practitioners, and other regional resource persons willing to share their relevant practical expertise and experience.

How to administer the Tree tool
We recommend that one staff person of the Hub and one-member representative or professional facilitator take responsibility for administering the tool and for collecting, collating, and reporting on the findings to all members of the Review Team. If Review Teams are unable to dialogue in a round-table setting, e-mail can be alternatively used to circulate questions from scorecards.

Network Development Acceleration Plan

A comprehensive Network Development Acceleration Plan is the end-product of the tool’s three-stage self-review process. The plan captures the organizational, partnership agreement, and network consolidation and expansion strengths and areas for improvement. The plan also serves as a roadmap for network capacity- building activities, and as a baseline for monitoring progress towards meeting success benchmarks.

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The Tree Tool Stages

Tree Tool Stages
Stage One: The Root
A tool for co-creating and reviewing Organizational Development

Organizational capacity is complex and context-specific. Traditional strengthening of organizational capacity takes time and needs a long-term strategy.

The Root stage of the tool is intended to help Innovation for Change Hubs have an in-depth understanding of the organizational development process. The Hubs in turn will have the capacity to use the tool with their network members.

The Roots stage reflects the different functional areas of a mature Hub that combine to ensure that it has sufficient capacity to achieve its vision and mission in service to its members. It also measures the fiscal and programmatic sustainability of the Hubs, and tracks progress towards these goals.

The Root self-review tool is to be applied in a way that is participatory, transparent, inclusive of all levels of staff, and with input by network members. Data collection will be key to ensuring the clearest picture of the Hub’s capacity status at baseline and over time.

 
The Root Main Categories

The Root categories to be examined for organizational capacity are:

  • Leadership and Governance
  • Management & Programming
  • Resources
  • Adaptability & Sustainability

Remember

Root categories represent important organizational functions:

  • Leadership and Governance – the ability of leaders, Executive Board and
    governance structures to inspire, prioritize, make decisions, provide direction, and innovate
  • Management and Programming – the ability of organization to plan, administer and establish priorities, ensuring the effective and efficient working performance
  • Resources – the ability of organization to maintain diversity while managing and developing human and material resources, and revenue from multiple sources
  • Adaptability and Sustainability – the ability of organization to sustain itself both financially and programmatically, the ability to identify and respond to internal and external changes in a timely way

Organizational capacity building represents a continuous cycle of learning and adaptation. There is no one size fits all approach. Therefore, the Tree Tool is designed to be adaptable to the unique circumstances of each regional Network Hub.

Leadership and Governance
Board Involvement & Support Board Roles Mission, Goals & Vision Values Stakeholders Leadership Effectiveness Analytical & Strategic Thinking
Resources
Human Resources Development Human Resources Management Team Work Diversity Physical Infrastructure IT Infrastructure Budgeting Diversification of Revenues
Adaptivity and Sustainability
Sectoral Expertise Member & Stakeholder Commitment Marketing, Media & Awareness Building Inter-CSO Collaboration Government Collaboration Funder Collaboration Project Replicability & Scalability Organizational Sustainability Financial Sustainability
Management and Programming
Structure & Culture Planning Personnel Program Development Administrative Procedures Risk Management Information Systems Knowledge Management Program Reporting Financial Reporting

 

Interpreting the Root Score:

The Root score is not intended to be a precise measure, but rather an indicator of future Network Hub strengthening needs.

To assist in interpreting the score, we suggest a ‘traffic light’ system which offers a rough initial guide to what a mature, less mature and least mature network might look like.

Total score GREEN

This category refers to role-model Hubs that possess strong, sustainable organizational capacity that needs maintaining only.

Total score YELLOW

This range indicates that the Hub governance and administrative infrastructure is in place, while some aspects of practical performance are not yet adequately developed. Partial progress in moving forward is evident, while some areas are more advanced than others. It may be that the overall organizational capacity is currently unbalanced towards one particular functional category at the expense of others. Although, capacity development is not the matter of urgency, tailor- made interventions should take place within the next twelve months. Knowledge exchange and/or study visits may inspire regional hubs on how to maximize use of existing resources as well increase their visibility, credibility and adaptability.

Total score RED

At this stage of development, initial steps to put policies and administrative systems are in place, but need improvements. Capacity gaps in many other categories still exist, and capacity building interventions need to prioritized and addressed within the next quarter to meet service needs of members, and institutional viability and sustainability of the Hub over the longer term.
 

Stage Two: The Trunk
A tool for co-creating and reviewing Partnership Agreements

Partnerships are little more than dialogues until those involved have made a tangible commitment to collaboration. Such a commitment is typically recorded in some form of Partnering Agreement or Memorandum of Understanding.

Purpose:

In the past years, networks have become an essential mechanism in the process of tackling complex problems of social and economic development, globally. The recognition that no single sector can independently address complex issues such as climate change or job creation has given rise to a multitude of partnerships.

 
Partnership Agreements

An effective partnership agreement is one designed to capture an agreed collaboration that has been co-created rather than imposed by one or the other member. Often, such an agreement can be split into an over- arching Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which defines the spirit and nature of the partnership, potentially followed by a contract for the delivery of specific activities, services or resource transfers.

Ideally, the agreement represents an expression of the vision, mission, and goals of the network both collectively and from each member’s perspective. It should be an embodiment of the members’ commitment and a guide to action rather than, as in the case of a conventional contract, a means of regulation and control.

The Trunk Stage tool addresses a key factor in the creation of successful networks: the purpose and content of partnership agreements. Time invested in designing and negotiating a detailed agreement between network members will not only create a more effective framework within which the network can work, but will lay a foundation of sustained co-operation through enhanced mutual understanding. Good partnership agreements can make a significant contribution to shaping sustainable network and its efficiency.

 
Partnership Agreement Guiding Principles

  • Commitment to a common vision
  • Agreement to share responsibilities and rewards
  • Recognition of each partner’s cultural differences
  • Striving for mutual respect, trust, investment, accountability, and benefit
  • Promoting Transparency
  • Commitment to Flexibility and adaptability to change

Remember

The most frequent forms of network agreements are:

  • A Memorandum of Understanding – a written agreement between parties to clearly establish vision, goals, respective roles and responsibilities, and expected outcomes
  • Letter of Association – a written document defining the terms of a partnership or collaboration
  • Terms of Reference – a statement of the rationale, goal, and specific activities to be undertaken in a network project or initiative
  • Contract – an agreement by two or more parties, usually enforceable by law which clearly defines the project goal, objectives, staffing pattern, partner respective roles and responsibilities, concrete deliverables and a timeline

The difference between an agreement and a contract is that an agreement is usually:

  • not legally binding
  • developed and agreed upon between the parties as equals
  • readily re-negotiable
  • open-ended (though sometimes a series of short-term agreements is more appropriate than an open-ended one)
  • voluntary
Partnership assumes that the whole is greater than the individual parts…It also means creating a network culture of mutual support

The Trunk Stage tool is flexible and designed to inspire creative discussion among members about the nature and purpose of the partnership within the context of the network structure.

Addressing agreement questions in a systematic manner seriously increases the chances of a network’s success – by ensuring that all members are on the same page.

 
Partnership Agreement Purposes

Safeguard: Network partnership agreements serve to safeguard investments, intellectual property and credibility by indicating rights of individual network members.

Risk mitigation: Agreements help partners adapt to these situations by specifying guidelines for addressing such risks.

Coordination: An agreement’s coordination function becomes evident as it clarifies expectations, defines roles and responsibilities, outlines reporting procedures, specifies network’s internal interactions and communication, and foresees network schedules and milestones.

 
The Trunk Tool Categories

The Trunk tool provides a template for reviewing seven main categories of partnership agreements:

  • Participation
  • Purpose
  • Operations
  • Monitoring and Evaluation
  • Governance
  • Communication

See Appendix 8 for a further breakdown of categories into 28 illustrative benchmark measures.

Participation
Network Members Members Representatives
Purpose
Mission, Vision & Goals
Operations
Objectives, Activities & Workplan Resources Roles & Responsibilities Risk Management
Monitoring & Evaluation
M & E Guidelines Sustainability
Governance
Relationship Management Power Decision Making Finance Management Capacity Development Planning & Reporting
Communication
International Communication Branding Intellectual Property & Confidentiality External Communication
Risks
Dispute Resolution Contingency Planning Partnership Termination

 

Interpreting the Trunk Score:

The Trunk Scorecard is best used to review, and/or strengthen the process of creating strong network agreements agreeable to all members. The score is not intended to be a precise measure.

A simple way of interpreting the score is to think of it as indicating the extent to which the agreement is comprehensive and meets the partners’ needs.

To assist this interpretation, we suggest a ‘traffic light’ scoring system intended as a detailed resource to support and guide discussion and decision-making between current or potential network members.

The Scorecard encourages users to assign a numerical score to each of elements. The intention is to provide levels of partnership development easily understood by members.

A proposed interpretation of the scoring system is given below but could be adjusted by regional hubs to suit their needs.

Total score GREEN

The network agreement is comprehensive enough to account for both transactional and relational aspects inherent in cross-sector collaborations. Members can assume that the agreement they have co-created may fulfill its function to coordinate network activities and partner responsibilities, safeguard partner preferences and investments, and represent a basis for easy adaptation in view of potential risks and unexpected situations.

Total score YELLOW

It may be that the network partnership agreement is currently unbalanced towards one particular agreement model, making it either too transactional, such as a contract, or too vague regarding resource commitments, roles and responsibilities, and/or expectations.

Total score RED

Several categories within the scoring matrix may be inadequately addressed. In its current state, the network partnership agreement might fail to serve its purpose as a coordinating and safeguarding mechanism for successful collaboration and project implementation.
 

Stage Three: The Branch
A tool for co-creating and reviewing Network Consolidation and Expansion

Networks are a means for harnessing partner resources for the common good. Capacity building is the means for ensuring the sustainability of networks.

The Branch is the final stage of Tree tool self- review. It aims at periodic monitoring of the networks services, adherence to partnership guiding principles, partnership agreements, shared roles and responsibilities of network members, sector diversity within the network, and equitable contributions of time and resources by members for mutual benefit to them and the network as a whole.

While the first two stages of this tool keep the network focused on: a) the institutional strengthening of the Hubs and its value to members and other civil society stakeholders in the region, and b) the terms and conditions of network partnership agreements, the Branch stage focuses on how best harness the partnerships into a viable and sustainable network. The Branch stage also seeks to protect the network from potential “road blocks” to effectiveness and sustainability.

 
Guiding Principles for Network Consolidation and Expansion

  • Equity leads to respect: for the added value each party brings
  • Transparency leads to trust: with partners more willing to innovate and take risks
  • Mutual Benefit leads to engagement: more likely to sustain and build relationships over time

The Branch scorecard serves as a guidepost for frank discussion on how your network is addressing important values, such as Equity, Transparency and Mutual Benefit.

These principles should be worked out as part of the partnership-building process and agreed by all network members. If they provide the foundation upon which the network is built, then as things progress they continue to provide the ‘cement’ that holds the network together over time.

 
The Branch Tool Categories

The Branch Tool is composed of categories to review the value and benefits associated with network consolidation and the inherent value partnership plays in successful network consolidation and expansion.

 
Branch Tool Categories and Sub-Categories:

Skills
Roles & Services Characteristics of Members
Guiding Principles
Building Participation Building Relationship Facilitative Leadership
Resources
Expertise Contributions
Trust
Meetings & Communication Membership & Commitment Consensus & Autonomy
Values
Success Diversity & Democracy

 
Interpreting the Branch Score:

Total score GREEN

The Green category also refers to exemplary role-model networks with full capacity in all categories: the Hub has governance and administrative systems in place, is effectively serving its members, and has a financial sustainability strategy in place, and revenue streams identified; and lastly, the network membership is expanding and its work is having a positive impact on civil society strengthening in its region.

Total score YELLOW

The network’s membership system is in place, yet aspects of performance in a number of score categories are not yet fully developed. Partial progress in moving forward is evident, while some areas are more advanced than others. Partnership may be unbalanced towards one sector, as an example. Tailored interventions should take place within the next 12 months. Knowledge exchange and/or study tours may inspire the regional hub on how to maximize utilization of existing resources, and how best to mobilize the membership to fulfill the network’s mission.

Total score RED

The Regional Hub should be supported to improve their membership capacity. At this stage, initial steps have been taken by the regional hub for activating partnership agreements, but no concrete network activities have taken place. Many Acceleration Plan targets are not being met. There is an urgent need to meeting priority targets in the next quarter.

Remember

  • It is impossible for networks to accurately and exhaustively foresee all situations that may translate into risks related to network relationships, performance, or external circumstances.
  • Following a set of network guiding principles will help to create a network culture of mutual accountability for mutual benefit.
  • Adaptability to a changing external environment will be a critical factor in
    a network’s credibility and impact on civil society strengthening in its region.

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Acceleration Plan Development: A Blueprint for Action

The creation of an Acceleration Plan follows each of the stages of the Tree tool: Root, Trunk, and Branch. It provides a framework for achieving consensus on prioritizing the findings of the self-review process to maximize strengthening the Hubs, partnership development and network consolidation and expansion.

To create a useful, realistic action plan, Innovation for Change Hub facilitators must work closely with the network members’ decision-makers and designated planning participants.

 
Prioritizing network strengthening targets
With help of the Tree tool it is relatively easy to spot areas that should be prioritized when planning capacity-building activities. Use the data and feed-back collected during all three stages to select appropriate interventions for network strengthening targets.

Following is the list of questions that an Acceleration Plan should address:

  • How best to strengthen the Hubs’ ability to provide quality and effective services to members and other stakeholders?
  • How best to ensure the financial sustainability of the Hubs?
  • What concrete steps are required to promote and support strong leadership and efficient management systems and procedures governing the network?
  • What types of capacity development interventions will increase the network’s adaptive potential to the external environment (political, economic, and social)?
  • What types of capacity building is required to make the network stable and effective in achieving its mission and goals?
  • Who are the responsible persons for coordination and oversight of the network capacity development process?
  • How best to prioritize action planning to build on strengths and address weaknesses related to Hub sustainability, network partnership development, and network consolidation and expansion?

 
Benefits of Acceleration Plan Development:

  • Building consensus on priority actions
  • Clarifying roles and responsibilities for implementation of the plan in accordance with individual expertise and experience
  • Achieving consensus on how and in what timeframe plans will be executed
  • Establishing consensus on procedures for monitoring progress toward achievement of plans

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Network Capacity Building

Planning network capacity building interventions
Designers of the Tree Network Development tool respect the global Innovation for Change network’s diversity, creating room for each regional network to take responsibility for its own development and modify the application of the tool accordingly.

  • Demonstrating the value that diverse approaches to problem solving
  • Providing evidence of the value of a network ‘learning’ culture
  • Persuading stakeholders that more participatory approaches can work efficiently

The role of the Hub facilitator is to help the network correctly identify what combination of systems, structure, style or environmental factors are strengthening or limiting the network’s performance, and further help select the right combination of strategies, methods, and tools to bring about the required changes.

The role of Tree facilitator is to help networks to more effectively achieve their own mission and vision, not the vision of the facilitators. Ownership, commitment, energy and creative action- this is a good definition of participatory learning, at least in the network context.

Network capacity building results in network strengthening in the areas of:

 
Organizational Culture Change:

  • Demonstrating that the diversity within the network enhances effectiveness
  • Providing evidence of the value of a network “learning culture”
  • Promoting a values-driven approach to development
  • Persuading stakeholders that building consensus can work efficiently

Human Resource Development:

  • Demonstrating the value of cross-sector collaboration for improving professional performance
  • Engaging member’s staff in the networking initiatives to reinforce learning-by-doing
  • Persuading managers of the benefits of cross-sector collaboration

Network Dynamics Acceleration:

  • Demonstrating the value of networked relationships, and their reach and influence
  • Illustrating the potential for networked relationships for enhancing civil society thought leadership

Better Communications:

  • Giving credibility to network members by publicizing achievements
  • Using internal communications systems to keep people engaged and informed
  • Creating special events for other people to illustrate the benefits of the network
  • Maximizing the use of Information technologies to maximize the impact of public awareness and advocacy campaigns

Opportunities for Getting ‘Out of the Box’:

  • Providing opportunities for experiential learning through peer exchanges, internships and cross- border study tours
  • Convening dialogue sessions among dissimilar stakeholders
  • Creating new ‘experiential learning’ opportunities (e.g., job swaps, sharing and daring, internships, partnering workshops)

Networked Capacity Building: A Ripple Effect

  • Increased Access
  • Reduced Isolation
  • Increased Efficiency
  • Increased Credibility
  • Risk Mitigation
  • Increased Efficiency
  • Increased Visibility

 

We are always happy to hear from you as innovation practitioners – both to learn from your experiences and support your important work.
Good Luck!

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Appendix #1: Network Partnership Tip Sheet

Who are the network partners/members?

It is important to clarify who the members of the network are, who will act as a representative and what each member commits to the collective. A network’s strength lies in its ability to bring together all relevant members (public, private and non-profit) that can collectively address an issue. Agreements should therefore include a definition of the partner organizations and their missions as it raises internal and external awareness of the expectation on each network member. Identifying representatives and their position within the network clarifies roles and responsibilities, thereby supporting coordination.

What is the nature of the problem and why do we network?

Network members may have diverse perspectives and objectives on how to address the common defined problem or opportunity. Network agreements which record the objectives from individual members (as well as those in common) facilitate the acknowledgement that next to the joint objective, members may have divergent reasons for participating in the network. Incorporating clarity of vision, shared objectives and divergent expectations in the network agreement facilitates the creation of unity in diversity.

What does the partnership want to accomplish?

Network agreements should also include an outline of the proposed project and activities, delineating what will be done, by whom and with what resources.

Provisions on resource commitments and roles and responsibilities provide clear and complementary boundaries yet enable flexibility. Moreover, provisions on risk management may help network members foresee potential challenges to a project’s implementation. Specific project activities and exchange of resources may be governed by separate conventional contracts.

How will the partnership be implemented?

Network members must decide on the mechanisms to be used for project implementation, describing the way they will work and develop governance mechanisms and procedures, which clarify, for example, how decisions are made. Agreements should also include provisions on quantitative and qualitative results- measurement for monitoring and evaluating progress.

Complementary guidelines on review procedures and periodic health checks help identify network limitations, build trust and strengthen partnering capacity.

How will the network communicate?

Communication between network members and with external stakeholders is essential. Networking agreements should reflect the communication needs of the members, thus it should define the communication strategy, systems and styles. Particularly in terms of external communication, agreements clarify what can and should be published, by whom and through which channels. Similarly, agreements should incorporate rules on intellectual property and confidentiality. By doing so, agreements safeguard members’ rights and at the same time facilitate trust building through communication.

What if something does not go as planned?

Although the question of ‘what if my network partners do not do what is agreed?’ may not align with the good-will spirit with which networks are formed, unexpected conflicts can put strain on the relationship. Therefore, agreements should define response measures for breaches by any member. Similarly, networks can be faced with other types of pressures for change or termination, and agreements need to reflect the policies in place to address or adapt to those pressures. This means describing what is needed to review and make changes, and the process through which a network members can change its role or the conditions under which a member can (or even should) leave the network.

When will the network do what?

Networks should design a formal timetable and define milestones that encompass both the implementation and the management level. This helps deal with expectations of who is responsible for what and when, as well as coordinating activities between members. In addition, timeframes and milestones also have a safeguarding function, because they account for delivering services and/or outputs within a certain defined end-point.

 

Appendix #2: Potential Network Obstacles

Types
Confused and Conflicting Priorities
  • Overemphasis on money
  • Different priorities among members
  • Hidden and conflicting agendas
  • Absence of a shared mission cross-sectoral intolerance
People Limitation
  • Competitiveness between strong personalities
  • Dependence on “traditional suspects”
  • Lack of appropriate leadership
  • Lack of endorsement for the champions
  • Inadequately skilled staff
  • Lack of confidence in members or staff
Process Frustrations
  • Difficulties breaking away from existing hierarchical structures
  • Over- lengthy consultation process
  • Loss of focus
  • Failure of members to carry out agreed actions
  • General low commitment level of parties involved

 

Appendix #3: Rating Scale

Rating Level Assigned Score Assigned Traffic Light Color
Not applicable, does not exist or sufficient information is not available to assess element 0
Needs improvement within 3-6 months
 
1
Needs complete improvement of both system and implementation 2
Needs improvement on a wider scale within 12 months 3
Needs improvement in limited aspects (system exists, but implementation could be better) 4
Acceptable, room for minimum improvement within the period 1-2 years 5
Acceptable, room for minimum improvement within the period 1-2 years 5
Acceptable, needs maintaining, only
 
6

 

Appendix #4: Scoresheet Sample

Network Development Scoresheet Sample

Network Development Scoresheet Sample

 

Appendix #5: Scoring Interpretation

Network Development Stoplight Regional hubs from this category should be supported and encouraged to improve their partnership strategy. At this stage of development, they made the initial steps in developing the system, or are establishing partnerships.
Network successfully put partnership system in place. However, there is uneven progress made in components of the scoring card.
The Green category refers to exemplary, role-model hubs with partnership development protocols in place, and agreements signed and being actualized.

 

Appendix #6: Acceleration Plan Sample

Step Task Who? Target Date Date Complete Outcomes Linked to Trunk Scoring Tool
1 Assess the system: Identify and agree upon network capacity priorities using existing data, walk through, case studies, or members feedback
2 Identify the challenges: Narrow options to each priority to address why it is important to network development
3 Pinpoint the target objective: For selected priority, identify what exactly needs improvement, develop clear, specific, measurable target objectives. What is it that you want to improve? Client satisfaction with services? Level of efficiency? Type of service?
4 Develop a measurement tool to track your progress, simple mechanism that measures the target objective that you’ve identified above. The tool should directly reflect the objective that you’ve identified above, however it could also include other information that would be useful to track subsequent change efforts.
5 Inform members about the plan for development of the objective that has been chosen, and describe its purpose. Don’t make the members feel like they are in trouble, help them to understand the change process and how it fits in with the network sustainability.
6 Establish a change team: Decide who you want to have on the team. Remember that if your change involves network facilitation roles, you should consider recruiting key facilitators within the network to be on the change team.
7 Provide clear instructions to the change team: Notify the change team members of their selection and provide them with a clear problem statement, measurable objective, and a promise of support and commitment from network’s management team.
8 Have the change team schedule their first change team meeting. From this point forward, the change team will be charged with identifying improvements and capacity development.

 

Appendix #7: The Roots Scoresheet

Score Sheet
1.1 Board Involvement & Support Average Grade:
1.2 Board Roles Average Grade:
1.3 Vision, Mission & Goals Average Grade:
1.4 Values Average Grade:
1.5 Stakeholders Average Grade:
1.6 Leadership Average Grade:
1.7 Leadership Effectiveness Average Grade:
1.8 Analytical & Strategic Thinking Average Grade:
1. Governance & Leadership Average Grade:
2.1 Structure and Culture Average Grade:
2.2 Planning Average Grade:
2.3 Personnel Average Grade:
2.4 Project Development Average Grade:
2.5 Administrative Procedures Average Grade:
2.6 Risk Management Average Grade:
2.7 Information Systems Average Grade:
2.8 Knowledge Management Average Grade:
2.9 Project Reporting Average Grade:
2.10 Financial Reporting Average Grade:
2. Management & Programming Average Grade:
3.1 Human Resources Development Average Grade:
3.2 Human Resources Management Average Grade:
3.3 Team Work Average Grade:
3.4 Diversity Average Grade:
3.5 Physical Infrastructure Average Grade:
3.6 IT Infrastructure Average Grade:
3.7 Budgeting Average Grade:
3.8 Diversification of Revenues Average Grade:
3. Resources Average Grade:

 

Appendix #8: The Trunk Scorecard

1. Participation

1.1 Network Members 0 1 2 3 4 5 6
a The network members represent public, private and civil society sectors __

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b Network members are committed to creating civic space through partnership and information sharing with peers and other civil society actors __

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c Network members have demonstrated expertise and experience in sectors relevant to the vision, mission and goals of the network __

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d Network membership is competitive and selection criteria promote diversity of sector experience and capacities, geography and constituency __

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e Network members are committed to investing time and human resources to ensure the success of the network __

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1.2 Member Representatives 0 1 2 3 4 5 6
a Network agreement defines who is eligible to act as a representative __

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b Members of the network are represented by individual persons who possess the requisite skills and knowledge for fulfilling their role __

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c Representatives of members are strongly supported by their senior managers and supervisors for their network-related work __

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d All network member representatives participate in negotiations, planning and implementation of network activities and services __

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e Member representatives receive equal opportunities for professional development __

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2. Purpose

2.1 Mission, Vision & Goals 0 1 2 3 4 5 6
a The network partnership agreement reflects a co-created and clearly defined vision, mission and goals for achieving common cause __

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b Network agreement creates the foundation for mutual respect, trust, investment, accountability and benefit __

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c Network agreement takes into account both the collective and individual member perspectives __

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d Network agreement defines shared responsibilities and rewards __

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e Network agreement recognizes each partner’s cultural differences __

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f Network agreement promotes transparent and participatory decision making. __

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Appendix #9: The Branch Scorecard

The Branch Scorecard

Instructions for Completing the Scorecard

Step One: Rate Your Partnership Development in the Scorecard

  • Your scanning should best reflect how your network performs currently with respect to each capacity component.
  • Assign a score to each element, rating the level of urgency and completeness of its improvement in the scorecard.
  • Mark the box that is closest to describing the current state of development.
  • If you discover that proposed capacity element does not apply to your network or is not relevant please designate the row “N/A”.
  • When you fill the scorecard completely, please calculate the average for each component: add the rating score of all elements under each component, divide by the number of elements that have been rated – average is worked out to the nearest single decimal place.

Step Two: Select Priority

  • The Tree scanning tool considers several development categories and matching components.
  • The last column in the scoresheet, is “priority” column.
  • Use it to indicate up to five agreement development categories your network is most interested in strengthening in the next six months.

General Information

Regional Hub  
Number of Hub Members  
Website Address (leave blank if not applicable)  
Name of Person Submitting Scanning Ratings  
Name of Organization  
Position of Person Submitting Scanning Ratings  
Date of Scanning  

Scoring Scale

Rating Level Assigned Score Assigned Traffic Light Color
Not applicable, does not exist or sufficient information is not available to assess element 0
Needs improvement within 3-6 months
 
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Needs complete improvement of both system and implementation 2
Needs improvement on a wider scale within 12 months 3
Needs improvement in limited aspects (system exists, but implementation could be better) 4
Acceptable, room for minimum improvement within the period 1-2 years 5
Acceptable, room for minimum improvement within the period 1-2 years 5
Acceptable, needs maintaining, only
 
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