Impact Networks

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Impact Networks

Create Connection, Spark Collaboration, and Catalyze Systemic Change

David Ehrlichman


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This practical guide shows how to facilitate collaboration among diverse individuals and organizations to navigate complexity and create change in our interconnected world.

The social and environmental challenges we face today are not only complex, they are also systemic and structural and have no obvious solutions. They require diverse combinations of people, organizations, and sectors to coordinate actions and work together even when the way forward is unclear. Even so, collaborative efforts often fail because they attempt to navigate complexity with traditional strategic plans, created by hierarchies that ignore the way people naturally connect.

By embracing a living-systems approach to organizing, impact networks bring people together to build relationships across boundaries; leverage the existing work, skills, and motivations of the group; and make progress amid unpredictable and ever-changing conditions. As a powerful and flexible organizing system that can span regions, organizations, and silos of all kinds, impact networks underlie some of the most impressive and large-scale efforts to create change across the globe. 

David Ehrlichman draws on his experience as a network builder; interviews with dozens of network leaders; and insights from the fields of network science, community building, and systems thinking to provide a clear process for creating and developing impact networks. Given the increasing complexity of our society and the issues we face, our ability to form, grow, and work through networks has never been more essential.


David Ehrlichman:
David Ehrlichman is cofounder and coordinator of Converge, a network of systems strategists, designers, facilitators, educators, and evaluators committed to cocreating positive impact. Converge practitioners have helped develop over fifty impact networks across the United States and the world, taking action on issues as diverse as economic mobility, human rights, access to science, and healthcare reform. Ehrlichman previously worked as a consultant at the Monitor Institute and was a network coordinator for the Fresno New Leadership Network, the Santa Cruz Mountains Stewardship Network, and Sterling Network NYC.