Network Terms

Networks: Webs of relationships connecting people or things.

Nodes: Individual parts of a network. Also known as elements or actors.

Links: Connections between the parts of a network. Also known as edges or ties.

Clusters: Groups of people or nodes that are much more connected with each other than they are with others.

Bridges: Connections between two clusters, networks, or parts of a system that would otherwise be disconnected. Wide bridges feature multiple connections, while narrow bridges feature a single connection. Those who create bridges are known as bridgers, brokers, or boundary spanners.

Hubs: Highly connected nodes in a network.

Core: The most densely connected part of a network, often appearing at the center.

Periphery: The less-connected part of a network surrounding the core.

Network Forms

Impact network: A network that brings individuals and organizations together for learning and collaborative action for a shared purpose.

Learning network: A form of impact network that primarily facilitates the flow of information or knowledge.

Action network: A form of impact network that facilitates connection and learning in service of coordinated action.

Movement network: A form of impact network that connects many other impact networks together, creating a network-of-networks.

Network Leadership

Network mindset: A worldview that embraces the reality that everything is connected. Those who adopt a network mindset see themselves as a part of a larger web of activity (not always as the central hub) and seek to develop stronger connections to create impact through collaboration.

Catalyzing: A network leadership role that brings people together to explore and launch a new impact network, and that fosters opportunities to expand the network’s impact.

Coordination: A network leadership role that provides operational support to sustain network activities and develop the network’s ability to share information, capture learnings, and coordinate actions.

Facilitation: A network leadership role that guides participants through group processes to find common ground and advance collaborative action.

Weaving: A network leadership role that nurtures connection to foster new relationships.

Network Teams

Core team: A group of participants who volunteer or are elected to help guide the work and activities of an impact network.

Design team: A group of diverse representatives from across a system who work to collectively clarify why an impact network is needed, who needs to be involved initially, and how to best organize network convenings.

Learning circles: Groups of participants who gather together to hold conversations, share knowledge, and collect information on a specific topic.

Project teams: Groups of participants who collaborate to advance a specific body of work related to the network’s purpose.

Creating Change

Convenings: Gatherings that bring all network members together simultaneously, whether in person or online.

Emergence: The process of something new arising from learning or interaction.

Leverage points: Places where targeted intervention can produce outsized impacts throughout a system.

Resilience: The ability to withstand disruption and adapt as conditions change.

System: A group of interacting or interdependent parts that together form a larger whole.

Systems change: The process of reforming or transforming the structures, relationships, policies, power dynamics, narratives, and norms in a given system to create positive social or environmental effects.

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