There has been plenty of discussion around the idea of the RSA becoming a truly networked organisation, but as a 250 year old entity, it is possibly more hampered than most by legacy technology, processes and cultures. I wonder if 'at large' candidates have read The Networked Nonprofit by Beth Kanter and/ or any other books or papers than promote networked thinking? Do they think these ideas can be applied to the RSA, and, if so, how?
Thanks Jemima - just refreshing the link to my post Collaborating towards a more fully networked RSA, which as you indicate generated some discussion. I there suggested an exploration leading to workshop, and you and others kindly offered assistance in the exploration. I'm in discussion with a major funder who runs a big community of practice on a Ning site, and who want to explore their way forward with others ... so we might get some collaboration.
The issue as I see it is how to develop a network-building strategy (and content strategy) before a technology strategy.
Currently we are missing the first two, so the tech tail will wag the Fellowship dog for ... is it third or fourth time?
I really do hope Candidate will be advocates for a more informed approach.
What do they think?
Great question Jemima :-)
I rather wish someone would write a UK version of 'The Networked Nonprofit' too...!
Interesting and challenging point from David as well, that a network-building strategy (and content strategy) should come before a technology strategy.
Is that the approach that Wenger and others call for in 'Digital Habitats - stewarding technology for communities', I can't remember?
Perhaps one can argue that a very open CRM system, with no lock-in, is an urgently needed minimum, which will be flexible enough for whatever might be required by Fellows later (around networks, communities etc)?
I agree with David about the priorities for networking. 36 years ago I founded the Collaborative Action Research Network (CARN) and it is still going strong as an international network of educational researchers and practitioners who share their substantive and methodological insights.The bonds that have sustained it stemmed from a common interest in developing and testing innovative pedagogies. This provided a strong content focus. There was also a strong vision of the network as an association for sharing information about practical experiments. Different nodes in the network - individuals and groups - had freedom to experiment and communicate with each other about their experiments without having to refer to a centre that controlled the flow of information to the periphery. The task of the central co-ordinating group was to facilitate free information flow and to create spaces for individuals and groups to identify and articulate common insights. The role of the technology strategy was to sustain the focus and the vision.
In the context of the RSA the FC should have an important role in ensuring that the development and use of digital technologies is disciplined by the thematic content that engages Fellows and by a vision of networking that promotes free information flow among them.
> Different nodes in the network - individuals and groups - had freedom to experiment and communicate with each other about their experiments without having to refer to a centre that controlled the flow of information to the periphery. The task of the central co-ordinating group was to facilitate free information flow and to create spaces for individuals and groups to identify and articulate common insights
Thanks so much for sharing this inspiring vision of a very transparent, networked structure. That worked!
Are there any examples of large, historic organisations like the RSA learning to use this kind of approach?
Does any of CARN's approach connect to Chris Argyris' methods for encouraging organisations to shift from Model I (Unilateral control) to Model II (Mutual learning)?
Matthew Kalman Mezey
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Thank you Matthew - that made me refresh my memory about Argyris! A good summary at "theories of action, double loop learning and organisational learning" and much food for thought. Looking at networks and communities of practice,there is a high degree of overlap at times. I was part of the CARN network and the shared purpose did create an effective community of practice.
In my blog post I highlighted a simplistic motivation model (happy to expand) that again highlights purpose.
"R.S.A. Reason Skills Action" This draws on dynamic motivation theories where the aim is to sustain a 'flow' of action' This might be in line with John's thoughts below that purpose (reason) should discipline technology (skills).
Looking at "Networked non profit" (thank you Jemima) the belief is expressed that we should 'keep in mind that tools will come and go but strategy (purpose?) sustains organisations'
In several of the current discussions there is a search for the purpose of the RSA. Several have been identified including the need to use social media to connect those with common interests - as well as to communicate and provide information from the 'centre'. The new council might well look at these purposes if it seeks to be a networked non profit.