By Tanwin Tanoto
Book reviewed: David Ehrlichman. Impact Networks: Create Connection, Spark Collaboration and Catalyse Systemic Change. (Berrett-Koehler Publishers: Oakland, California). January 2022.
We can’t do it alone. But yet, it is hard to work together.
Even in churches and ministry, we face those two dilemmas. We know we can’t reach our city and community alone. Yet working with other churches and para-church organisations seems to be more trouble than it’s worth. But if we take this ministry thing and spreading-the-good-news-of-Jesus thing seriously, then we have to work together!
In Impact Networks, Ehrlichman explains a type of collaboration that “can be cultivated to accelerate learning, spark collaboration, and catalyse systematic change.”
“Impact Networks”, according to Ehrlichman, are a special type of network that brings individuals and organisations together for learning and coordinated action, based on a shared purpose.
Ehrlichman divides this book into two parts:
First, working through networks.
In this part, the foundation of Impact Networks is outlined. Ehrlichman explains the mindset shift that we need to have to form Impact Networks – from a purely hierarchical mindset to an organic combination of networks and hierarchies, together.
This first section also explains how to make networks work, the difference between the network’s primary forms to its core activities, and the different leadership roles and their principles.
I found this first section is a big help in shaping and laying the foundation of what it is and how it differs from other kinds of networks.
The second part is about cultivating impact networks.
This is about making the networks work. This is where purpose and principles are clearly defined and gathering the people around that common purpose.
Ehrlichman makes an interesting claim that one of the ingredients to make this work is trust. How can we cultivate trust among the gathered people and organisations? How can we weave through the many complex connections within a network? Finally, how can we deepen that trust that leads to actions?
If you have tried to make connections (and failed, as I have) before, then I find this section to be very encouraging.
Overall, I found this book to be practical and easy to read. Drawn from many experts and years of experience in building and making networks work, this is an encouraging book for those who are tired and exhausted from doing it alone.
Read more of Tanwin’s Book Reviews HERE