Dear all,
I have put together a set of PowerPoint slides – posted here – that I will draw on during our Friday morning (April 24) module: Framing the Network Leadership Challenge: Cases and Concepts. (There are quite a few slides: Nearly half are appendix slides (22-38) that are included as background references; we will focus selectively among the presentation slides (1-21).) [Links to copies of case-study source documents (and presenter bio) are posted here.]

To prepare for the class, I suggest you consider the questions listed below as they apply to the case you are working on for this course (see "Here are the case clinic questions" under the Class Outline section below); and look through the slides ("Network Leadership...Cases and Concepts") that I will draw on during the first part of the class. We will be looking for one or two class members willing to offer their case to the class to work on together during the session.

If you have questions or suggested references for this class session, please post by going to the "discussion" tab above.

Key questions we will address
  • Why networks?
  • What are key leadership functions?
  • How develop leadership capabilities?
  • What are your organizing challenges?

Class outline
  • Cases and concepts [~30 minutes]: Review cases and concepts related to network leadership; these will draw mainly on my research and experience with multi-stakeholder applications in the civic sector (on issues such as healthcare and economic development).
  • Case clinics [30-45 minutes]: Facilitate one or two “case clinics” presented by members of the class. A class member will present a brief description of a live case and pose several network leadership challenges she or he is facing. Class members (and online participants) will engage with the presenter to flesh out the key issues, frame the problems, and consider ways to solve them. The purpose is not so much to solve the case as it is to learn about the types of questions and analytic frames that help discover solutions.
    • Here are the case clinic questions:
      • What is your network about? What are the desired outcomes you are trying to achieve?
      • Why need an intentional network, versus relying on current structures and relationships?
      • Who do you need to involve?
      • What are activities for engaging, learning, and achieving goals?
      • What are your organizing challenges?

    • Please come to class having thought through these questions as they apply to your case.
      • We will decide on a case or two to work on together before class starts

  • Wrap-up reflections [~15 minutes]: Insights, action implications, and personal leadership challenges

Rationale for using civic-sector cases as context for exploring nature of network leadership
My opening discussion will focus on civic networks and draw mainly on research and experience related to communities of practice, for several reasons:

  • I think it is important for leaders in any sector today to be thinking about how all stakeholders—from public, private, and non-profit sectors—influence their success. (Societal context played an important role in our two previous sessions: Lawrence Community Works and Boston Public Schools.)
  • The complexity of civic challenges and diversity of players involved starkly illustrate the case for intentionally and systematically developing networks and related leadership capabilities.
  • Communities of practice—as a particular type of network—are designed to address the action-learning challenges that are at the heart of today’s challenges for achieving desired outcomes—at individual, organizational, and societal levels.

Look forward to our conversation!

- Bill