I was in Washington, DC on Tuesday and Wednesday for a two-day workshop is designed for Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights and Justice Leaders, who lead and manage networks or accomplish much of their work through networks. The workshop was hosted by the Packard Foundation and Monitor Institute. You can find the workshop materials here.
The workshop will be an opportunity for social change leaders to step back from their day-to-day responsibilities and develop strategic insight about their networks. Specifically, the workshop will be focused on:
- Introducing and applying network tools, frameworks, and case studies that can help network leaders assess their effectiveness and increase their impact
- Facilitating peer-learning and exchange
- Exploring what it means to work with a network mindset
My participation included:
- An interactive presentation on best practices for using social media for external communications
- Peer discussion on use of online tools for collaboration for bounded networks, exploring some of the concepts in Digital Habits (each participant got a copy)
- Half-Day Session: Social Media Strategy Game which included small group work for participants to come up with a strategy for both external communications and an internal learning network to share best practices.
Some reflections on the game:
- Many the networks in the room had a track record of working together and a number had deep social media expertise. This made for a rich session for me because participants were sharing their wisdom. The strategy presentations were some of the most detailed and creative I have heard to date - and after doing this workshop many times. I got a glimpse of what doing this workshop with a room full of social media rock stars would be like.
- For the small group work to be an optimal learning exerpeince, it requires having at least one person with hands-on experience at each table. I incorporated a human spectragram using very comfortable with social media and not very comfortable. This gave me a visual of who had experience and asked them not to all sit at the same table.
- Since there was a strong sense of community and connection in the room, the spectragram discussion was really rich. I asked the "very comfortable" people the following question:
What was your ah ha moment with social media, when you understood its power and benefit to your movement/network?
Participants offered anecdotes from personal use.
"I was able to organize my high school reunion in a half hour because I was friends with everyone on Facebook."
"My personal blog was getting more hits than our organization's web site."
"We also heard a couple of examples of organizational use that described mobilizing activists quickly on Facebook."
Then I asked the people who were standing at the other side of the room, what was it about social media that made them uncomfortable. I also pointed out that they were showing network leadership because they were comfortable with their discomfort. One person shared that social media made them uncomfortable because they were an introverted and being 'out there' did not feel natural.
Then, I asked the people on the comfortable side of the room if they ever felt this way when they first started to use social media. Many did and shared their transition.
I asked the comfortable group if everyone in their organization was a comfortable as them or more like the other side of the room. This prompted some great insights into adoption strategies.
- This was the first time I was able to weave the external communications piece with the internal bounded networks piece. It worked well. Aside from the brainstorm about tools, we heard some wonderful techniques that some participants were already using "blogging behind the firewall." This points to how the social media strategist also functions as a network weaver or technology steward internally.
- This group was one that was comfortable learning in public and modeled it. I decided to model it and take advantage to learn in public from talented co-facilitators to keep the energy up during the small group activity. I learned some nuances in the share pair technique as well as a quick energizer when the level dropped during the small group.
- I revised the cards for the first time in a while to reflect some of the new content. I also got a great idea: a set of cards for the facilitators of each group.
- Stephanie McAuliffe inspired to start keeping trainer's notes that focused on the process and now am adding these to the reflections.