Evaluating network health involves assessing the degree to which the network is cohering around shared goals and developing a positive culture of collaboration. The factors listed below are especially critical to the long-term success of impact networks and their ability to keep participants engaged.
1. Purpose & Principles
- Network participants have identified and are aligned around a relevant high-level purpose.
- Network participants have identified and are aligned around a set of shared values and/or principles.
- Network activities are effective at advancing the network’s purpose.
- Network activities are designed and implemented in alignment with the network’s principles.
2. Participation & Engagement
- Network participants include a broad cross-section of people and organizations that are well suited to address its purpose.
- Network participants have the authority, autonomy, resources, and experiences necessary to contribute effectively to the network.
- Network participants are engaged with and contributing to the network.
- The network engages with important external stakeholders.
3. Relationships & Trust
- Network participants seek to develop strong, meaningful relationships with one another.
- Network participants share information with one another in a manner that is open and timely.
- Network participants are able to acknowledge and address important conversations about the network and its future.
- Network participants are able to engage in and resolve conflicts with one another.
4. Structures & Agreements
- The network has defined a governance structure that meets network needs.
- The network has defined agreements clarifying how participants can engage in the network.
- Network participants make decisions through a process that is inclusive and transparent.
- Resources and power within the network are shared equitably.
5. Coordination & Communication
- Network coordinators serve the network as stewards, letting the network lead, nurturing its growth, and constantly anticipating its needs and challenges.
- The network has the necessary communications systems in place to share information, capture learnings, and track conversation topics.
- Information about network activities is timely, effective, and easily accessible by all network participants.
- Network participants are equipped with and use the network’s communications tools effectively.
6. Adaptability & Resources
- The network is responsive to changing internal developments (e.g., changes in membership, desires of participants).
- The network is responsive to changes in the external environment.
- Resources are adequate to sustain network activities.
- Funders let the network lead; they do not seek to control the path of the network.
7. Value & Impacts
- The network is making progress in alignment with its purpose.
- Network participants are benefitting personally and professionally from their engagement in the network.
- Network participants’ organizations are benefitting from engaging in the network.
- The network is creating value for constituents served by participants’ organizations.