This practical guide shows how to facilitate collaboration among diverse individuals and organizations to navigate complexity and create change in our interconnected world.

The social and environmental challenges we face today are not only complex, they are also systemic and structural and have no obvious solutions. They require diverse combinations of people, organizations, and sectors to coordinate actions and work together even when the way forward is unclear. Even so, collaborative efforts often fail because they attempt to navigate complexity with traditional strategic plans, created by hierarchies that ignore the way people naturally connect.

By embracing a living-systems approach to organizing, impact networks bring people together to build relationships across boundaries; leverage the existing work, skills, and motivations of the group; and make progress amid unpredictable and ever-changing conditions. As a powerful and flexible organizing system that can span regions, organizations, and silos of all kinds, impact networks underlie some of the most impressive and large-scale efforts to create change across the globe. 

David Ehrlichman draws on his experience as a network builder; interviews with dozens of network leaders; and insights from the fields of network science, community building, and systems thinking to provide a clear process for creating and developing impact networks. Given the increasing complexity of our society and the issues we face, our ability to form, grow, and work through networks has never been more essential.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
  2. Title Page
  3. Copyright Page
  4. Dedication
  5. Contents
  6. Preface
  7. Introduction
  8. Part One: Working through Networks
    1. Chapter 1: The Web of Change
    2. Networks for Impact
    3. Relationships: The Heart of Networks
    4. Chapter 2: The Network Mindset
    5. The Hierarchical Mindset
    6. Networks and Hierarchies, Together
    7. Making the Mindset Shift
    8. Chapter 3: Making Networks Work
    9. Primary Forms of Impact Networks
    10. Core Activities of Impact Networks
    11. Chapter 4: Network Leadership
    12. Network Leadership Roles
    13. Principles of Network Leadership
  9. Part Two: Cultivating Impact Networks
    1. Chapter 5: Clarify Purpose and Principles
    2. Catalyzing a New Network
    3. Finding Common Purpose
    4. Defining Shared Principles
    5. Chapter 6: Convene the People
    6. Inviting Co-creation
    7. Designing Meaningful Gatherings
    8. Facilitating Emergent Outcomes
    9. Chapter 7: Cultivate Trust
    10. Weaving Connections
    11. Deepening Trust
    12. Holding Courageous Conversations
    13. Chapter 8: Coordinate Actions
    14. Accelerating Flows
    15. Practicing Reciprocity
    16. Responding to Crisis
    17. Chapter 9: Collaborate for Systems Change
    18. Making Sense of the System
    19. Creating Transformation
    20. Planting Sequoias
    21. Chapter 10: The Enabling Infrastructure
    22. Organizing into Teams
    23. Bounding Participation
    24. Making Collective Decisions
    25. Embedding Evaluation
    26. Resourcing Networks
  10. Conclusion
  11. Notes
  12. Glossary
  13. Selected Bibliography
  14. Acknowledgments
  15. Index
  16. About the Author
  17. About Converge