Generating ideas, connections, and action

News Update: Leadership and Networks!

News Brief 03/31/11

This week's newbrief focuses on giving some examples of organizations, programs, and articles that demonstrate the power of leadership and networks.

  • Spark is an organization that seeks to build a community of young, global citizens who are invested in changing patterns of inequality that impact women throughout the world. Its strategy, which focuses on community building, education, advocacy, and grant-making, is to identify and fundraise for outstanding women's organizations around the world. It is now striving to create a global network of philanthropists dedicated to supporting women who are inciting change in their communities.
  • Lawrence Community Networks, based in Lawrence, Massachusettes, is a nonprofit organization working to revitalize the physical, social, and economic landscape of Lawrence. The organization is successful because of its networking strategy; it works to "advance the thinking and the practice of network organizing - a form of network-centric-placed community organizing and community building - both within the LCW network and in the larger world." Some specific functions LCW serves are to hold program-related trainings, to skill building trainings, and to develop and document practice-driven learning.
  • The Barr Foundation, a Boston based organization dedicated to forging relationships and creating change among nonprofit leaders, provides a fellowship for 12 leaders each year. The Fellowship - which is designed to foster collective learning through shared experiences and an expansive network - helps Fellows develop lasting relationships, which the Boston Globe describe as "a web of collaboration, that is rippling through Boston's nonprofit community with increasing effect." These relationships in turn encourage nonprofit leaders to make collaboration a priority since it is through collaboration that resources will be most efficiently utilized and goals will be met.
  • The Story of Stuff Project examines the devastating consequences of American consumerism on our health, the environment, our culture, and our happiness. The project exploded in 2007 when Annie Leonard posted a short film on Youtube. The film (also titled The Story of Stuff) has had over 12 million views and exemplifies the power of communication, collaboration, and a networked approach to inspiring change. It is not just social media that has allowed Leonard to extend her reach as she has - The Story of Stuff's impact is the result of real relationships that Leonard spent 10 years building around the world. The mentality of the project is reflected in the deliverables of the organization (Youtube videos and books for dissemination) and in how the deliverables are made, as evidenced by the use of a creative commons license – allowing other people to use the films, put them on their sites, and do anything they want except sell it. Beth Kanter discusses The Story of Stuff on her blog and shares multiple interviews with Leonard, including one on the Colbert Report.
  • In a post on Network Weaving blog, Jack Ricchiuto writes about the relationship between networks and leadership and, specifically, how leadership is both more redundant and more valuable when it is used in a network. The idea that "asset redundancy at optimal levels is key to network resiliency" marks a shift in our traditional definition of leadership because it focuses on collaboration rather than competition and outcomes rather than power struggles.
  • In a blog post, Harold Jarche discusses our organizational, social, and value addiction to hierarchies, which he compares to smoking cigarattes - "a harmful habit that we need to break." He says we need to move to a different type of leadership that is collaborative and inclusive in order to break the cycle. He dubs this form of leadership "wirearchy."


More information:

Organization Name: Spark
Executive Director: Shannon Farley
Mission: Spark seeks to build a community of young, global citizens who are invested in changing patterns of inequality that impact women throughout the world.

Organization Name: Lawrence Community Network
Executive Director: Bill Trayner
Mission: Lawrence CommunityWorks (LCW) is a nonprofit community development corporation working to transform and revitalize the physical, economic, and social landscape of Lawrence.

Organization: The Barr Foundation
Program: Barr Fellows
Executive Director: Pat Brandes

Title: Forging Community Ties
Author: Erin Ailworth
Date: October 22, 2010
Source: The Boston Glob


Organization: The Story of Stuff Project
Executive Director: Annie Leonard

Title: The Story of Stuff: An Inspiring Example of a Network in Action
Author: Beth Kanter
Date: February 24, 2011
Source: Beth's blog


Title: Seriously Rethinking Leadership in a Networked World
Author: Jack Ricchiuto
Date: February 26, 2011
Source: Network Weaving blog


Title: Leadership for Networks
Author: Harold Jarche
Date: February 8, 2011
Source: Harold Jarche blog