Net-Map workshop in DC – May 1-2, 2015

Come summer and it is that time of the year to immerse into mapping your complex networks. The two day Net-Map workshop teaches you basic understanding of the method, with emphasis on learning by drawing your network.

Net-Map is an interview-based mapping tool that helps people understand, visualize, discuss, and improve situations in which many different actors influence outcomes. By creating Influence Network Maps, individuals and groups can clarify their own view of a situation, foster discussion, and develop a strategic approach to their networking activities.

We will also introduce some exciting innovations in the next workshop. Join the growing community of practice and I hope to see you at the workshop. The venue is George Washington University. Please sign up here.

Join us: Largest international Net-Mapper meeting ever!

Wouldn’t it be great if Net-Mappers from all over the world could share their experience, learn from each other, build a common knowledge-base and just hang out and enjoy each other’s company? You might be working with Net-Map in your university, organization, consulting practice and maybe you are the only one excited by the participatory drawing of networks. Or, maybe a lot of your colleagues are excited, but they all have no clue how it really works, so you always have to be (or look like) the expert who knows everything. I am sure you have some great stories, lessons and results to share and together we might find the answers to your questions.

We (that’s Eva Schiffer, Jennifer Hauck, Amit Nag, Paolo Brunello and our Net-Mapping friends) are planning to have the biggest international meeting of Net-Mappers at the next Sunbelt Conference of the International Network for Social Network Analysis in Brighton, UK (June 23rd to 28th, 2015). In addition to hosting one (or two) sessions which will be dedicated to applying network knowledge, we are planning to host a Net-Mapper get-together as informal side-event of the conference so that we can all get to know each other and each other’s work and start working together more closely.

We will discuss whatever questions are at the forefront of our minds. For me there are three things I am really curious about:

  • Learning more about all the great applications of the method to start having an extensive case collection.
  • Strategies for working together to make Net-Map interventions happen and grow the community of practice. This could lead to developing a database of international Net-Map consultants so if any of us wants to implement something that is bigger than one person, we know where to go.
  • Asking and answering questions about how to use and analyze Net-Map, moving the method forward and understanding it better.

To make this happen we need you. And you. And your net-mapping colleague too. If you are interested, please contact me directly. And submit an abstract for the Sunbelt Conference session on applying network knowledge.

Oh, and did I say that this is just the side-event? The main event is also pretty amazing. Sunbelt is the largest Social Network Analysis conference and it’s an great mix of the old gurus, the young geniuses, master’s students getting feedback for their half-done thesis, and everything in-between. Also, they have great hands-on introductory workshops on most of the common SNA software and approaches (including a Net-Map training) during the first two days of the conference. If you have never submitted an abstract to a conference and the task intimidates you, I am happy to talk you through it. And, surey, you can also come just as a participant, without presentation… but we would all be missing out, if you didn’t share your work. Looking forward to seeing you there!

How the poor adapt to climate change in Kenya and Ethiopia

Farmers in Ethiopia (picture credit Stevie Mann, ILRI)

… and what role their formal and informal networks play in this.

Let me share some of the work my former colleagues at IFPRI have been doing with Net-Map. This is the result of their field work in Ethiopia and Kenya, looking at the strategies and networks of stakeholders in their adaptation to climate change. They point to the challenges of taking action and innovating in a highly centralized system, where success and failure lies on the shoulders of a burdened few and there is little communication between other actors. And they highlight the risk of having self-perpetuating discussions in the high offices of powerful local and international elites, with little direct relevance or contact to those men and women who have to deal with the effects of climate change on their farms on a daily basis. Read the full Kenya and Ethiopia reports here. And if you want to share your Net-Map work, whether it is an extensive PhD research or a brief field report, please contact me so that I can share it with the wider Net-Mapping community.

If you want to read more in general about effects of climate change on the people in Kenya and Ethiopia, this article in the Guardian about the ongoing drought in Kenya paints a painful picture of the day-to-day realities on the ground

Can a high school drop-out find a job with Net-Map?

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(Picture copyright Lydia on flickr)

Karen is an 18 year old high school drop-out with a criminal record for shop-lifting, some limited work experience at McDonald’s, a boyfriend she rarely talks to and no idea how she can start earning enough money to move out of her mother’s place and start a more independent life. Will drawing a Net-Map help her understand who can help her make the next step, who she needs to avoid, what issues she has to tackle next and where some unexplored opportunities lie?

It seems like the answer is yes. Well, kind-of… Because Karen is the role one of our Net-Map training participants played, she isn’t a real teenager, but rather the aggregate of a number of girls our colleague has worked with. To figure out if this method could possibly work in untangling the web of family, friends, parole officers, minimum wage employers etc. that may influence the next step forward for a girl like Karen. As the role play went on it became more and more involved and somehow felt real. The most powerful part of it came at the end, when “Karen” started considering how to change the influence of different actors in the network. What it would feel like if some of the influence was taken away from her boyfriend and transferred to her. What would it take? Could you make it happen? What is stopping you?

I am excited to see that we, as a community of practice, are expanding what Net-Map can do, working with it as a tool for personal counselling and working with younger audiences. As some regular readers might know, my youngest Net-Mapper was my daughter, at age three, when we mapped out “Who loves who in the family.” And I am convinced that understanding the power of your networks, both positive and negative, can be a game changer for teenagers at the cross-roads. So, if you do have a teenager at hand who is willing to try it out, it would be wonderful if you could Net-Map their future with them. Not the whole wide expanse of all of their future. But a challenging and concrete next step that they need to master. And please, share your experience.

 

Guiding your network weaving: Net-Map training in DC (June 27-28)

ImageAt our trainings you dive into using Net-Map in your own context pretty quickly. Last fall one of our participants actually took a break from the map he was drawing because it made him realize that he had to make a few phone calls to some key influencers that he had not been quite aware of. And he had to do that RIGHT NOW. So while he continued learning more about Net-Map through the training he had already kicked off powerful network weaving in his home county to save jobs and keep major local employers from moving out of the county. Experiences like this give me goosebumps. How mapping out formal and informal networks, seeing them in front of you, can give you new insights about problems that you have obsessed about for ages…

If you want to spend two days with us in DC, learning how to map actors, connections, goals and influence levels and how Net-Map can inspire transformational changes in a question you are passionate about, secure one of the remaining spots in our June training.

 

 

First Net-Map training in Nairobi, Kenya (May 21-23)

 

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The Fairview Hotel in Nairobi, where the training will be held

It started with a simple request many months ago: Kentice Tikolo of the Kenya based strategy communications firm Impact Africa asked me: What do I need to do to learn Net-Map? Many conversations and a lot of planning sessions later the question has become a much bigger one and so has the answer. So, the question now is: How can I bring Net-Map to Kenya and create an opportuntity for myself and others in the region to learn it? And the answer is our first Net-Map training in Nairobi. My colleague Amit Nag will travel to Kenya to teach this three day course (May 21-23) that includes the methodological background, hands-on pen-and-paper facilitation practice and an introduction in how to computerize the maps and get started with more quantitative analysis.

The training is open to anyone who is interested and a few open spots are still remaining. The cost is 875 US$ per person. And for sign up or request more information, please contact Kentice directly at kentice.tikolo@impactafrica.co.ke.

Become an expert Net-Map facilitator: Next training in DC June 27-28

influence towers from sideWe are are planning 2 Net-Map workshops in Washington DC this year. There are some more workshops planned in other parts of the world (e.g. Kenya in May)– so stay tuned. And, if you are interested in a workshop catered to your organization and at your location, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

The next workshop in DC is scheduled for June 27-28. So please mark the dates. This is a two day workshop in which you learn the basics of how to use Net-Map to improve your ability to understand and navigate personal and professional networks. The workshop will have a strong focus on learning-by-doing and you will be able to bring your own questions and map them out.

The location is George Washington University. Please sign up here