In a world that is experiencing profound and rapid change we have to work together more now than ever before, coordinating efforts across silos, organizations, and sectors.
To build multi-stakeholder collaborations that can truly thrive we need to stop structuring them like hierarchical organizations and start seeing them as the dynamic networks they really are.
Converge is a network of strategists and designers committed to social and environmental impact. We build collaborative networks that help individuals and organizations to connect, learn, and work together to tackle complex problems and create systemic change.
What We Do
We have to work together now more than ever before, coordinating efforts across silos, organizations, and sectors. Unfortunately, anyone who has worked in such complex initiatives knows that they so often fall apart and fail to achieve their ambitious objectives. Lifeless committees make little progress, personality conflicts get in the way, and any energy the group once had slowly fades away. Collaborative efforts succumb to these forces because they are organized in entirely the wrong way - with multipoint plans and rigid hierarchies that ignore the way people naturally work together. But to be most effective these efforts should be cultivated like evolving ecosystems, formed with flexibility and adaptability built into the system itself and organized according to the way people naturally connect with each other.
To build multi-stakeholder collaborations that can truly thrive we need to stop structuring them like hierarchical organizations and start seeing them as the dynamic networks they really are. By utilizing a network approach to collaboration, large and diverse groups can become greater than the sum of their parts, increasing connection, learning, and action across the whole system while providing opportunities for leadership to arise from anywhere. And by harnessing the power of networks to scale, self-organize, and proliferate, initiatives that have taken this bottom-up approach are fueling some of the most sophisticated, large-scale solutions to social problems around the world.
As network designers, facilitators, coordinators, and evaluators, we will partner with you to cultivate vibrant networks that bring together individuals and organizations to tackle complex problems and create meaningful change. See below for some of the ways we have worked with our partners to increase their impact, or contact us for a free consultation.
Build a new strategic network to catalyze connection, learning and action across organizations, sectors, and systems.
Transition organizations or foundations to adopt a network approach in order to leverage resources of all types—leadership, money, talent—across organizations and sectors toward a common goal.
Evaluate the health of an existing network through social network analysis and apply targeted support to help the network reach its full potential.
Support an existing network, association, or membership base to increase its connectivity, improve cross-network communication, spark new collaborations, or expand its reach to amplify impact.
See our writings at blog.converge.net and read some of our published articles below for our perspectives on what it takes to make networks work.
Collaborations and networks rarely achieve their ambitious goals. Here’s what it takes to make them actually work. This feature article in Stanford Social Innovation Review was one of the top five most popular articles of 2018.
Network entrepreneurs are ensuring that systems-level, collaborative efforts not only succeed, but thrive. This article introduces a nine-part blog series we curated to highlight the work of networks creating systemic impact in environmental conservation, education, economic development, and beyond.
Examples Of Our Work
Since our launch in 2013 we have supported networks across a wide variety of issue areas and on four continents, taking action on issues as diverse as economic mobility, environmental conservation, human rights, and healthcare reform. Following are just a few examples of networks we have worked with in the recent past.
Cultivating a vibrant region where both human and natural systems thrive for generations to come
From 2014 to 2016 Converge catalyzed the formation of the Santa Cruz Mountains Stewardship Network, a region-wide, cross-sector collaboration of 22 organizations including federal, state, and county agencies, land trusts, nonprofits, research institutes, a Native American tribal band, and timber companies in the Santa Cruz Mountain region south of San Francisco.
The network has achieved significant outcomes since its launch, including an unlikely $11.7 million conservation deal brokered between the region's largest timber company and land trust, and a unique collaborative effort that is reuniting the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band with its land and returning the Quiroste Valley to its pre-colonial landscape. Read this article for additional examples of outcomes resulting from the network, and refer to this case study for more details on how the network was formed.
Advancing economic mobility across New York City
Converge worked with the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation to catalyze Sterling Network NYC, a diverse group of over 45 leaders from the public, private, and non-profit sectors working together to increase economic mobility across the five boroughs, with racial equity as a central guiding value. The network’s efforts address the root causes of economic inequity and build towards systems-level impact by leveraging experiences, resources and relationships.
Protecting migrant rights across borders
Converge has helped transition Justice In Motion to adopt a network approach to its work, including by coordinating the Defender Network, a network of human rights defenders across Mexico and Central America that ensures that migrants can quickly obtain international assistance from defenders who are closest to their home communities. During the recent family separation crisis in the United States, the Defender Network was essential to locating deported parents in remote regions of Central America and coordinating their reunification with their children, which often took place in unfamiliar capital cities.
Providing summer learning opportunities for all children and youth in California
Converge helped to amplify the reach and impact of the California Summer Matters Network, a program of the Partnership for Children & Youth (PCY). The California Summer Matters Network connects regional leaders and hundreds of school districts to increase and improve the summer learning opportunities for all children and youth across the state.
Advancing the development of multipurpose prevention technologies for women worldwide
Converge supported leaders at CAMI Health to amplify the impact of its growing network, the Initiative for Multipurpose Prevention Technologies (IMPT). The IMPT is a global network to advance multipurpose prevention technologies (MPTs) – health prevention products that allow women to simultaneously protect against more than one sexual and reproductive health risk, including HIV, other sexually transmitted infections, and unintended pregnancy. Refer to this article for more information on the powerful learning network structure of the IMPT.
Some of the networks, foundations, and organizations we have partnered with to create social and environmental impact include:
"Thank you for being the most thoughtful, empathetic active listeners, shepherds, and network-formation guides we could have wished for. Very excited, grateful, and proud for how far the group went together with your guidance in just 1.5 days!!" – Cristin Dorgelo, LISTEN (Leaders in Science & Technology Engagement Networks)
“I keep getting accolades for choosing you, Converge, as consultants. Everyone was so impressed and appreciative of the design meeting and what we ended with! Thank you!” – Nazaneen Khalilnaji-Otto, California Summer Matters Network
"This was no common facilitation experience. You bring extraordinary preparation and awareness of the landscape, great wisdom, and an uncanny method for calling forth our better angels. I am confident our momentum will result in fruitful actions." – Kathryn Jean Keller, Financial Advantage Network
“This effort has been really different. It has been really engaging, and I think we nailed it. What we’ve come up with is as close as I can possibly imagine to the optimal vision and direction this organization wants to take, and to the role we can feasibly play in the systems transformation that has to occur, to get to the point that we all know is possible.” – Thomas Locke, Arcora Foundation
“The Santa Cruz Mountains Stewardship Network has tremendous potential to create resource synergies and raise political awareness which could lead to future stewardship funding that will benefit people and our landscape. Without the continuity and accountability managed by Converge it is unlikely this Network would have advanced beyond the concept stage.” – Terry Corwin, Santa Cruz Mountains Stewardship Network
“The ease and rapidity with which we were able to identify potential projects for collaboration was startling and encouraging. The convening was extremely effective at facilitating trust and promoting a sense of community.” – Philippe Cohen, Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve
"We have been showered with compliments and excitement. For many, including me, it was one of the most rewarding professional experiences ever. Honestly, this is how I feel about the experience. Thank you for being on this journey with us." – Cathleen Caron, Justice in Motion
"Thank you so much for your leadership and expert facilitation today and for all the legwork and thought you put into this process. We hit a home run today - and that's quite an outcome for our first time at bat. Today was just superb!" – Steve Pantilat, UCSF Health Coordination of Care Network
“Converge provided experience, ideas and outstanding facilitation for us as we launched our first ever all-network gathering of 140+ social sector leaders in Santa Barbara County. As we try to live into what it means to embody network leadership, it’s been very helpful to work with Converge.” – Ken Saxon, Leading From Within
“It was even better than I had hoped – we achieved so much more than I expected. Thanks again for such an amazing experience. I honestly think this workshop will lead to some really impactful partnerships.” – Maryrose Franko, Health Research Alliance
"You cannot achieve what you did yesterday without proven techniques and well planned processes. But I personally wanted to thank you for your generosity of spirit, authentic engagement, and a belief in what is possible." – Debbie Wege, BECU Foundation
“I cannot think of facilitators who have come close to the exemplar you demonstrated, and will certainly recommend you to anyone I know looking for the highest caliber of facilitators.” – Darcy Gentleman, DJG Communications
Elsa Henderson is a facilitator, coach and educator. Her expertise lies in conflict facilitation and training development. She is a diplomate of Process Oriented Psychology and loves the predictable and unpredictable ways of people. Passionate about meeting the challenges of our current times, Elsa focuses on uncovering the emerging dynamics in individuals and groups, mapping complexity and deepening collaboration. firstname.lastname@example.org