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4 Common Pitfalls of Implementing Strategy in Networks

Just like families, networks can simultaneously serve as a source of great strength and great challenges. For leaders working to develop and implement strategies within a networked structure, this can be especially true. How do you set goals across a network and build a shared commitment to achieve them? How do you drive performance without undermining innovation? How do you cultivate shared learning?

Networks are tremendously diverse, ranging from local to national, and from chapters under one umbrella organization to an aligned network of independent organizations driving toward the same goal. Despite this diversity of structure, networks often face similar challenges when seeking to implement network-wide strategies.

Our work with networks has uncovered these four common pitfalls:

  1. Trust: Without intentional efforts to build trust and establish shared goals and values, the relationship between network members and a central coordinating body can become overly transactional, diminishing a network’s ability to effectively collaborate on solutions.
  2. Measurement & Accountability: When setting targets for success, organizations might identify metrics that are easiest to measure across the network and build measurement systems focused on tight oversight. This can become burdensome to network members and can incentivize behaviors that undermine their ability to achieve impact.
  3. One-Size-Fits-All: It can be easy for network leaders working within a central coordinating body to approach affiliates or partners as one homogeneous group and expect similar performance among them. Without tailored support, network members can find themselves falling short of common goals.
  4. Hub-and-Spoke: The central coordinating body can become the default and only hub of communications, limiting network members’ ability to learn from and share with each other.

On September 30, 2016, we learned from leaders who successfully navigated these pitfalls first-hand. Representatives from FoodCorps, Communities In Schools, College Possible and Community Wealth Partners share actionable insights based on their lived experiences in the webinar recording below.

Making Network-Based Strategy Work from Community Wealth Partners on Vimeo.


eva-ringstromEva Ringstrom
As Director of Impact, Eva oversees program reporting systems and process evaluations, designs and implements student- and school-level outcome evaluations, manages external evaluation efforts, and advises on program development and design.


gary-chapmanGary Chapman
Communities In Schools, Inc.
As Executive Vice President of Network Impact and Operations, Gary oversees the provision of high quality nonprofit management and student support expertise to local and state Communities In Schools organizations to scale impact for schools and students.


jim-mccorkellJim McCorkell
College Possible
As CEO and Founder, Jim is responsible for leading strategic organizational development, engaging and building relationships with national partners and championing the organization’s commitment to creating more college graduates.


john-kernJohn Kern
Community Wealth Partners
As Vice President, John engages in strategic partnerships with leadership teams, provides client engagement oversight and supports the overall growth and development of the firm.

Lauri Valerio

About Lauri Valerio

As communications manager, Lauri Valerio works to communicate sector trends and learnings from Community Wealth Partners’ work. She creates and edits content including case studies, articles, blog posts, social media posts and proposals. See Lauri’s full bio.

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