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Podcast    H4'ed 4/9/15

Connecting to Change the World; harnessing the power of networks

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Broadcast 4/9/2015 at 01:24:31 (12 Listens, 18 Downloads, 2155 Itunes)
The Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show Podcast

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Peter Plastrik and Madeleine Taylor are co-authors of Connecting to Change the World; harnessing the power of networks for Social impact.

Peter Plastrik is a cofounder of the Innovation Network for Communities

Madeleine Taylor is the CEO and a cofounder with Peter Plastrik of Network Impact, which provides social-change agents with strategies, tools, research, and consulting expertise to design and use networks for increased impact. Madeleine received her Ph.D. In Anthropology and spent her early professional career working in southern Africa.

Rob: What's the elevator pitch version of what this book is about

Rob: Madeline, where does anthropology fit in, working with networks?

use of social network analysis, study of social process and change?

Rob: What do you mean by a network-- social impact network, generative network

wrote a piece called "net gains"

there were differences in the way people do collective action organizing

Most people weren't clear about the differences

Most people were really interested in-- how do you build relationships between indivs and between orgs-- that last a long time and get things done

Need to have a set of relationships that can create many different kinds of products, innovations and relationships

endurance, adaptation, innovation.


Rob: you say we've shifted from the organization to the network era.

people began preaching a bottom-up decentralized way of organizing-- rather than top-down, centralized.

Increasingly there are things that organizations can't do.

Now there are networks of organizations.

Rob: so, when you're talking about networks, you're talking about organizations represented by individuals who come together in networks?

People build relationships, not organizations. l

Two big trends for making networks happen-- internet-- and emergence of millennial generation-- largest generation in American history-- really interested in a communal, collaborative ways of working. The internet amplifies that.

Rob: You say that a generative networks is a human operating system for spawning activities.

Rob: you write about studying complexity theory which turned out to be useful for studying networks.

Rob: Madeleine, can you talk about social network analysis? What is that and how does that apply to what you guys work on?

network nodes, network maps,

Rob: You have an appendix on collaborative software. is there software that you don't have to be an anthropologist to use that helps you to look at nodes and maps.

spaces like ning and sharepoint.

Urban sustainability directors network-- started with 40-50 people at first network meeting, and most didn't know each other. Map didn't show many connections.

really highly decentralized, bottom-up system. " This creates an enormous amount of reach.

Rob: what do you mean by reach?

It's important to build a denser network

Rob: what makes a denser network?

Rob: you write "most people have networking in their blood" They know instinctively how to connect with each other, make friends, engage with colleagues, break the ice with strangers and stay in touch-- You refer to Malcolm Gladwell's idea of "connectors-- people with a special gift for bringing the world together. They are the kinds of people who know everyone."

Is this something that is build into our genes, that we evolved to have?

yes. we are social animals.

Some of our work is to make the implicit explicit.

Rob: it seems to me that a top down culture tends to discourage some of the most valuable aspects of networks.


The amount of energy that's in the room when these networks get together, even meeting on the phone, the give and take, the willingness to listen to each other, understand each other--- there's a whole, sometimes we call it the net-centric way" it's very different from being inside an organization. Bottom-up is a good way to describe it, relationship based and very much trust based.

Role of trust--

Rob: why do people love it?

collegiality, deep connections, really strong ties with other people drive that. When you develop strong ties with peers who understand your situation, who want to be helpful to you and to whom you can be helpful, that's a really rewarding situation for network members.

also the opportunity

What are the differences between coalitions, social media, associations and social movements vs networks?

coalitions and alliances tend to be very short term and very focused.

association is a staff driven entity-- really about providing services to members. it's not really peer to peer relationship based.

Generative are more peer to peer, relationship based and decentralized-- also smaller and more focused than a large scale movement like the environmental or gay rights movement.

Rob: Can an organization or association, or one of these other kinds of group convert to a network?

examples of coalition morphing into network and networks morphing into other kinds of network. Some networks could morph into an association model.

Rob: You talk about three different kinds of network:


alignment, think together, construct shared point of view, align around ideas and strategies and ways of thinking.

productivity network-- want to produce something-- service, product, knowledge--

There's a developmental sequence

Rob: and this is what you talk about later in the book, about the evolution of a network

Rob: You talk about how there are eight design issues--

network building is a practice-- part of the practice is having frameworks so you can be highly intentional about it.


Value propositions-- why are members in the network and what keeps them staying in the network? There may be many different value propositions in the network.

Rob: You say that the network is a gift economy.

It's not just about what you can get from a network, it's about what you can give. A network that's build only of people who want to get will not work. There's generosity.

The term in anthropology is generalized reciprocity.

Rob: Generalized reciprocity-- is that another aspect of being human that's pretty deeply embedded?

Rob: it sounds like there are people who do not fit into a network

there are people who join the network and then disappear after a while. " they could be somebody who's introverted and shy. Could be somebody who is there to get something and is not comfortable with the giving side, the reciprocity that drives the network" IT's difficult for people with large ego needs to be satisfied. You have to be able to submerge your ego and let the network's needs drive your behavior and your own needs all the time. There's the issue of high ego people who are not good citizens.

Rob: are there sometimes people who cause problems who you have to say, "you gotta go?"

Rob: Let's talk about connectivity-- you dedicate a whole chapter to connectivity

if people aren't connected to each other, don't build relationships, then the rest can't happen. The base of any network. It's important to think about it at every stage of a network's development.

Rob: you talk about the network core and about network weaving:

core-- people who are highly connected at the center of the network and on the periphery.

core: people who are network organizers who step forward because they care about building and strengthening the network.

Weaving, is about helping people make connections to each other and build relationships. one of the first critical skills in building a network. Two categories-- mass weaving-- annual meeting o f a network, so people build relationships with each other-- How do you make a meeting like that happen. Customized weaving-- network coordinator-- identifies a really good connector, and people new to the network, not really connected to anybody--

Rob: I have a website and I've seen how your approaches could be used to create a community with more network like community. Have you done anything.

First question is what value will the network generate for the core?

The business of building online communities i s booming but there are challenges ahead

Rob: what are the challenges?

Rob: You put a high premium on Face-to-Face F2F

People have to spend time together F2F is the label on people spending real time together. It's so critical for building trust. Digitally, don't get full bandwidth of signals.

Rob: you talk about evaluating networks. How do you evaluate networks?

most members, if they are in the social change business, are about doing the work, building trust, but they need to be reflective, so they can adapt" They have to be self aware, see the opportunities, see what strategies they take, see how the strategies work. Need to be monitoring their practice. We've developed a scorecard to rate their network health. Evaluation is important to make the case for funding from funding sources-- important to create a record of what the network is achieving.

Rob: What are some of the cues that a person would see that would suggest that a network is something where they should go.

problem that you care about and you don't believe that any single org is the way to take care of that problem-- you have a strategic conclusion that collaboration or maybe a network is the way to go.

Second is simply this instinct that I want to connect with a lot of other people.

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Rob Kall is an award winning journalist, inventor, software architect, connector and visionary. His work and his writing have been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, ABC, the HuffingtonPost, Success, Discover and other media. 

Check out his platform at

He is the author of The Bottom-up Revolution; Mastering the Emerging World of Connectivity  

He's given talks and workshops to Fortune 500 execs and national medical and psychological organizations, and pioneered first-of-their-kind conferences in Positive Psychology, Brain Science and Story. He hosts some of the world's smartest, most interesting and powerful people on his Bottom Up Radio Show, and founded and publishes one of the top Google- ranked progressive news and opinion sites,

more detailed bio: 

Rob Kall has spent his adult life as an awakener and empowerer-- first in the field of biofeedback, inventing products, developing software and a music recording label, MuPsych, within the company he founded in 1978-- Futurehealth, and founding, organizing and running 3 conferences: Winter Brain, on Neurofeedback and consciousness, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology (a pioneer in the field of Positive Psychology, first presenting workshops on it in 1985) and Storycon Summit Meeting on the Art Science and Application of Story-- each the first of their kind.  Then, when he found the process of raising people's consciousness and empowering them to take more control of their lives  one person at a time was too slow, he founded which has been the top search result on Google for the terms liberal news and progressive opinion for several years. Rob began his Bottom-up Radio show, broadcast on WNJC 1360 AM to Metro Philly, also available on iTunes, covering the transition of our culture, business and world from predominantly Top-down (hierarchical, centralized, authoritarian, patriarchal, big)  to bottom-up (egalitarian, local, interdependent, grassroots, archetypal feminine and small.) Recent long-term projects include a book, Bottom-up-- The Connection Revolution, debillionairizing the planet and the Psychopathy Defense and Optimization (more...)

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