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Networks and collective action : hard-truths and top tips

Isabelle Pelly, Independent Humanitarian Consultant

As a new year starts, I along with many others find myself in reflection mode. This year, I have the luxury of riding that bandwagon a little longer than usual, as I ponder my next steps and the learning from my last role at the Cash Learning Partnership, the global network of actors working to increase the scale and quality of cash and voucher assistance in humanitarian aid. In this first independent blog, I’m inspired to focus specifically on the role of networks in driving collective action. Some of the most transformational innovation is taking place within such networks. As the complexity of global challenges and the magnitude of change increases, we must be engaged network participants to better face the future. I hope this piece will resonate with anyone committed to improving and leveraging the power of networksThink of it as a ‘what I wish I’d known when I first started working for a global network’ or ‘top tips on getting the most out of networks’.

Harnessing the power

Collaboration is hard. But it is worth it. The evidence is finally being documented to prove that it saves money and makes services more effective, and that the most impactful collaboration takes place through networks in which members are actively incentivised to contribute. Networks, and the access economy on which they thrive, are blossoming within and across professional sectorsIn the humanitarian sector in particular, networks (at global level, such as NEARSTART, and excitingly at local level) have burgeoned. These bring together the strengths of diverse actors to catalyse change and provide alternatives to the stagnancy of formal systems. When I joined CaLP in late 2015 we were transitioning to a network model, from an original steering committee of 5 organisations. Fast-forward to early 2019, and CaLP is now comprised of more than 80 members. This has provided an exponential increase in the potential to achieve our common goal, by galvanising progress in technical standards, capacity, coordination and policy. Much of the learning I’ve acquired at CaLP is eloquently presented in Steve Waddell’s work on Global Action Networks which I enthusiastically recommend.


This is an extract from the full article which originally appeared on Medium. Read it here: https://medium.com/@isabelle.pelly/networks-and-collective-action-hard-truths-and-top-tips-600cc74bf9b8



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