People collaborate for a simple reason: We find value from building networks with other individuals and organizations. We can do more together than we can alone. However we often view value one-dimensionally through the context of our needs. For example, if we feel we need more financial resources, it becomes easy to define value narrowly as funding. In reality, the types of value organizations bring to networks are varied and diverse. Understanding this fact and finding ways to take advantage of all these types of value can improve the way you collaborate and the outcomes you’re working towards. Here’s a strategy on how to leverage value in your network!
What exactly is value in a network?
In past VNL research, we decided to ask people in networks a simple question: Why do you spend so much time and resources building networks? Their answer was simple: Networks are valuable, in a variety of ways. Through a series of surveys and interviews, we listened and categorized these different forms of value. Eventually we ended up with three general metrics for value in a network:
- Power & Influence – this value is social in nature, the ability to influence others and make change.
- Level of Involvement – this value is temporal in nature, time and a willingness to give more in the future to reach goals.
- Resources – this value is material in nature, in the form of funding, staff or other materials that can help the network.
PARTNER helps you measure each of these types of value in your network!
If you are collaborating in a network already, you probably can identify most or all of these types of value in your own experience. Yet we rarely consider all these types of value when managing a network. As I said above, we are often so focused on our short-term needs that it can be difficult to recognize other unique value.
PARTNER can make this objectively easier, by providing you hard data on the perceived value in your collaboratives. Our scientifically validated survey asks each partner how they view the value contributed by the partners they work with. This provides a broader view of which organizations are bringing power, time or resources to the work you are doing. Often, this can produce surprising realizations about untapped value, or ways to be more efficient in what we do.
An example of How to Leverage Value in your network more effectively
Here is a common example networks face involving value in their work. When a new network forms, the organizers often look for powerful and influential organizations to take on leadership roles in the network. However these same organizations are often tapped for many networks and projects – we all want powerful and influential leaders! They often lack the time and resources to really do a good job in the role, slowing your work.
Once networks conduct a PARTNER analysis, they realize that there are many types of value beyond power and influence. Instead of asking powerful, but over tapped organizations to fill key roles, network managers can identify other organizations with time or resources to contribute and ask them to fill roles, freeing up the time and energy of larger groups. That’s just one example of how to leverage value in your network more effectively.
Wrapping it Up: Value is Varied – Use it all!
We collaborate because it provides us value, in many ways. However we often focus on just one form of value, instead of recognizing that value exists in many forms. Conducting a PARTNER analysis with your network gives you the data you need to identify the value in your network. This is the first step to improve the way you leverage value in your network!