Network Weaving Facebook Group Social System Map

Network Weaving Facebook Group Social System Map

I’m one of the Master Mappers working with you to build a map of the Network Weaving Facebook group. We had a great kickoff call and I’m looking forward to digging into what we’ve discovered about what this community wants, need and values.

As we move through this project together, we invite you to join where ever your energy is, so don’t hesitate to join any call that looks interesting to you!

Our next call is from 9-10:30 a.m. CT on April 2nd.

Our goals for the call are
  1. People get to connect/build relationships with each other
  2. Review what we’ve discovered so far;
  3. Generate questions based on the feedback on intentions and what we want to know (based on the information from our first call)
Here’s the registration link and the report back that we’ll be using to discover the community.
Sarah Ann Shanahan, The RE-AMP Network

Report Back #1

Exploratory Meeting (February 13, 2019)

Authored by Jim Best (


This Report Back captures the learnings of an initial Exploratory Meeting on Zoom held by MasterMappers to assess interest and start to understand some of the purposes that are alive in the Network Weaving Facebook community. The draft Report Back has produced generative conversation in the comments (left intact here) that will help us move forward in a subsequent Exploratory Synthesis Meeting in April. Thanks all!
47 registered for the 60 minute Zoom event, 24 attended, and 13 expressed initial interest in some kind of co-production of the social system map with the Master Mappers going forward.

The agenda of the meeting:

  • (05) Welcome
  • (05) 27 Intros captured in chat (simultaneously)
  • (05) Orientation to the mapping project
  • (20) Small group breakouts of 3 to address 3 questions (Google Doc capture)
  • (05) Reflections on the experience
  • (05) Demo of sumApp and Kumu mapping tools
  • (10) Next steps. Poll for interest in co-producing a map
  • (05) Plus/Delta & Closing
There are a set of Exploratory Meeting Notes created by the participants as we broke out into small groups. This level of detail is for hardy souls! It provides a look at the actual conversations in the words of the participants rather than MasterMappers’ summary of them. I’ve tried to provide value at this summary level while still giving a flavor of this vibrant meeting.
The following sections use a “What? So What? Now What?” format to move from observation to meaning to action. See more about the rationale for this framework on the
Human Systems Dynamics website or the Liberating Structure by the same name.


The participants spanned 5 countries and 9 states comprising a variety of backgrounds (intros captured in the chat box).
People come to the NWFB group with a variety of intentions. The recent
Virtual Network Cafe#1 small group discussions surfaced some of these same intentions. That event provided a useful cross-validation and we look forward to more of these kinds of discussions where we begin to form an identity and discover purposes.
We focus on intentions because sufficiently strong purposes and opportunities attract the passion and energy that lead to the necessary relationships and resource-sharing required for action.  What are those intentions?


We asked, “Why did you join the Network Weavers Facebook group and what do you hope to get out of this community?”
Several recurring themes emerged from the small group discussion about intentions for being part of this NWFB Community. Some categorizing and lumping of comments give the following list of intentions (in order of frequency mentioned):
  • Learning community (10)
  • Community of peers (9)
  • Social justice focus (7)
  • Change within our groups (6)
  • Build the field of network action/thinking (3)
  • Giving & getting help (3)
Here are a few of the detailed comments that give more color:
  • Learning community; ask questions, exchange resources (10)
  • Social justice focus (7)
    • Connecting faculty across a university toward greater impact in community engagement
    • Connecting people across London — community organizing, network mapping, story mapping
    • aiming to help make London a more networked city
    • Network forms are more able to spark policy change
    • create conditions for racial diversity in our community and ensure that what and how we are doing this is aligned with various needs & interests
    • how can we use network mapping to advance deep equity?
    • how power and influence overlay
  • Changing our groups or work in groups (6)
    • How to best communicate with groups we work with about value of networks
    • Be an active agent in using the tools
    • creative thinking about ways to use network mapping & weaving
    • Mapping as a way to become more conscious of the purposes contained within an organization
    • used SNA to surface relationships that are hard to see, specifically within teams – change management
    • interested in creativity, innovative resilient networks
  • Community of peers engaged in networked action (5)
  • Like-minded people … My tribe! (4)
  • Build the field of Network Weaving (3)
  • Share challenges and helps (3)
  • Exploring collaboration opportunities (1)

What do we Want to Know About Each Other?

We asked, “What do you want to know about other people and what do you think others want to know about you?”
This question elicited a wide range of answers. We were trying to get a sense of the information that people might want about each other on an accessible community map. It is clear that the question evoked other impulses that didn’t strictly fit in that box. Here are the answers in order of frequency:
Of the Give & Get Help type:
  • Learning edge   xxx
  • Mapping skills   xx
  • Willingness to hand-hold newbies   xx
  • Talents/skills/networks   xxxxx
  • Challenges   xxxx
  • Offers   xxx
Personal attributes:
  • Passions   xx
  • Personal history of network thinking   xx
  • Geography   xx
  • Domain   xx
  • Work   xx
  • Methods   xx
  • Tools   xx
  • Values   xx
  • Goals   xx
  • What do we want to be known for   xx
Other areas:
  • How people are holding their roles of network leadership   xx
  • Role of story   x
  • Bridging interests and sharing between disciplines and geographies   x
  • Experiences   x
  • Concerns/worries   x
Other types of entities:
  • “consider including entities other than individuals, such as groups, organizations or tools. We could have views of the maps in which were displayed, e.g., individuals’ connections to tools like, Kumu, SumApp, NodeXL, Polinode… Each of these entities would have their own standardized profiles, appropriate to the type of entity, and individuals’ relationships to those tools could be qualified for display (e.g., by level of familiarity or with textual description of how one relates to the tool)”

What Relationships are Important to Make Visible?

We asked, “So what is most important to you in your connections to other? Frequency, quality, etc?”
This question also elicited a wide variety of expressions but this time lumping seems fruitful. Perhaps three categories emerge:
High-quality Connections (more here):
  • Trust   xxxxxx
  • Safety x
  • Supportive/nurturing   xxx
  • Sense of who we are   x
  • Friendships   xx
Actionable/Learning (see the somewhat related Relational Coordination and maybe also Collective Impact))
  • Genuine conversation   x
  • Problem-solving communication   x
  • Frequency of Communication   xx
  • Giving & getting feedback   x
  • Reciprocal learning   xx
  • Productivity   x
  • Supporting each other’s mission/collaborative   xxx
Boundary Spanning (and Core-Periphery):
  • Span geographies   x
  • Info from the Periphery   x

So What?

In this section we try to understand what this all means. Alternatively, Human Systems Dynamics asks at this point, what is working, what is not?
Something to consider as you read this: Was the exploration adequate? Where do we need to strengthen our understanding
In general, the first question about intentions seems to have revealed some solid clusters of common purpose. The second question seemed less effective but generated many of the usual suspects for entity profiles. The third question about relationships fits nicely into existing sociological theory, Jarche’s framework for meaningful work (thanks, Nenad!), the structure of communities of practice (Wenger), and June Holley’s depiction of Viki Sonntag’s 4 interlocking networks for network weaving in particular. No doubt there are others!


Unless we think that the 27 participants were not very representative of the 1800 Facebook group members (which is completely reasonable to expect!), it’s possible we have a decent sense of where this community is in its evolution. It is just beginning to see the formation of multiple hubs of activity and at the beginning of a deeper process of relationship building. The most frequently-mentioned intents were:
  • Learning community (10)
  • Community of peers (9)
  • Social justice focus (7)
  • Change within our groups (6)
  • Build the field of network action/thinking (3)
  • Giving & getting help (3)
The intentions are very generic and appropriate to a CoP (Community of Practice) — a learning community of peers with differing levels of expertise and focus, that want to give and get help. There is some desire to build the capacity of the field (network action/thinking) itself, a hallmark of self-awareness. Hopefully, mapping will help deepen this self-awareness of the group as a whole. A bonus was the very strong intention around social justice and organizational change. This focus may lend itself to hub creation. Perhaps it already has begun to do that as seen by the Consultants Network cluster.
These intentions give strong guidance to the building of a social system map. Give participants the means for connection with each other on the basis of affinities they have and let the network weaving begin to be unleashed! Self-organized activities may bring people together and more netweavers may step up to enable that.

Entity Profiles

Since the responses to this question were very scattered, it probably makes sense to revise the question and dig more deeply into the larger group of 1800 to see if there are emergent patterns. Perhaps the context wasn’t set sufficiently. Nevertheless, many of the suggestions of what information to share about each other are common sense (contact info, background, focus of interest, domain of work, offers and asks of help, etc.). Many network maps ask exactly these questions.
Tying the profile information back to service of primary intentions, we might strongly consider attributes that support building peer relationships and establishing a learning community. An abundance of affinity information and queries about skills and interests might enable those, respectively. Special attention could be directed to affinities around social justice and organizational change work. Although “give-and-get help” was not the highest priority intention, requests for asks-and-offers type information came up the most frequently.
On a completely different track, but critically important in terms of goals and design, is the desirability and feasibility of including entities other than people as mentioned in the section on p. 7. Our upcoming Exploratory Synthesis Meeting will be a good place to talk about that.


The responses to what type of connections the community is interested in seem perfectly understandable. Build High Quality Connections (HCQs) that are safe and promote social learning so that action is more easily enabled through collaborations. Measuring the boundary-spanning capacity within the community and encouraging it promotes a diverse and inclusive membership through which novel information/and resources circulates into the mix. Spooky resonance with Harold Jarche’s framework.
It is interesting to me as a newbie network weaver, that June Holley’s (from Viki Sonntag) framework for an action network appears to resonate somewhat with our situation. An intentional network supported by a relational network (and an administrative network) is a prerequisite for a healthy action network. Many of those factors are at play here.

Now What?

Project Approach

We are moving through the Intentions Analysis segment of this project which we hope to augment with a couple of questions addressed to the larger Network Weaving FB community that couldn’t attend the initial Exploratory Meeting. We may find other intentions not represented in that meeting.   We’d like the survey to build on what we learned but most importantly, explore the last two questions we posed. What kind of information, about people and relationships, should the map make visible to help us achieve the intentions that we’ve uncovered thus far?

Next Steps

  1. Final Report (send 3/4/19): Make this final report available to the entire 1800 and invite comment on the 3 questions or some version of them to deepen the response.
  2. Invitation to give your input: If you haven’t had a chance to weigh in on the 3 questions posed in the Exploratory Meeting, please take a moment and contribute your thinking here.
  3. Invitation to an Exploratory Synthesis Meeting (early April): Invite the entire community (1800). Who would like to help synthesize what we’re learning? Who would like to start working more closely with the MasterMappers on the actual design and mapping? When we get a date in early April we’ll post it and make an invitation.
  4. Exploratory Synthesis Meeting (April): Convene a gathering in early April to review the total set of responses and begin to sort them out as a NW-FB group community.
  5. sumApp Community: Christine Capra has created a Knowledge Base and Community where we can store a library of project documentation and have community conversation about this Network Weaving Facebook Group map.  It offers a knowledge base for technical mapping using these tools, envisioning and sensemaking aspects of the Social System Mapping process in general, and a community conversation area that includes a forum about the Network Weaving Facebook project in particular. It was designed to create a community of Social System Mappers who are using sumApp and Kumu, with the purpose of spreading the practice of and increasing capacity around Social System Mapping.
    It is not necessary to sign up for the community to view general documents and community conversations. However, in order to access the Facebook project documents or participate in community conversations, it is necessary to sign up to be a member of the site.  If you have trouble getting access, contact
  6. Collaboration with Virtual Cafe:  Explore how the efforts to map the Facebook group synergizes with what the monthly Virtual Cafe has already started. The Cafe currently goes in the direction of providing space for peer-assists, common learning and exploring questions that matter to us as a community. This aligns with explorations of purpose in the mapping project and invites further collaboration to explore how these efforts relate to each other. The Cafe may be the best venue for doing that.