CASE STUDY: The Santa Cruz Mountains Stewardship Network – A Regionwide, Cross-Sector Approach to Conservation

The Santa Cruz Mountains Stewardship Network is a collaboration of nineteen federal, state, and county agencies, land trusts, nonprofits, research institutes, a Native American tribal band, and a timber company, formed in 2014 to improve land stewardship in the Santa Cruz Mountains region south of San Francisco.

Rather than forming the network around a clearly-defined purpose and a set of measurable objectives, the network formation process has allowed outcomes to emerge from a process that emphasized cultivating strong trust-based relationships between participants, facilitating the right conversations, and implementing necessary leadership, organizational structures, and decision-making processes as the network evolves.

The result after two years is a cohesive group of committed participants who have overcome historical tensions in the region, are working together more closely to implement shared stewardship projects, and are formulating strategies for improving stewardship throughout the region in ways that no one organization could accomplish alone.

What follows is the story of the network’s first two years— the obstacles that were encountered and overcome, the lessons learned, and the challenges ahead. The study also explains and illustrates the conceptual frameworks that were used to guide the network’s formation.

Read the full case study for the Santa Cruz Mountains Stewardship Network here. 

View the executive summary of the case study here.

The case study includes the following contents, organized by its Narrative as well as the Frameworks and Tools used throughout the network formation process. Continue reading

What Collaboration Software Should We Use?

Choosing the right software stack will do wonders for your ability to collaborate effectively, whether it’s within a small team or across a large multi-stakeholder network.

However, with so many options available it can be difficult to know which applications are the best fit for you and your team. And because switching costs are so high, landing on the right tech platform from the start is a huge decision.

To help you make this important decision, we took the time to review each of the top collaborative tools out there – so that you don’t have to. Click here to view a summary table, and read on for our full recommendations.

We tried out the top recommended applications for each of seven primary collaborative use cases — including messaging, audio & video conferencing, document creation, file sharing, project management, scheduling, and network mapping — and scored them against a set of criteria — including overall effectiveness, ease of use, group size flexibility, cost, mobile integration, and email integration — to determine our recommended collaborative software stack.

Here’s what we found.

Converge’s Recommended Collaborative Software Tools 

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Generate Leads & Influence Your Target Audience with Network Analysis

Applying social network analysis to strengthen and grow the global B Corp network.

Social Network Analysis (SNA) allows us to visualize and measure the connections between individuals, information, and organizations. Applying SNA can reveal how various stakeholder groups within a network are connected, and how information and resources flow through that network. From this, SNA can identify individuals or organizations who are key influencers exhibiting high degrees of “social capital” within a given community or around a given topic. While not a silver bullet, SNA is an important tool for network and community-building efforts.

When paired with emerging real-time and public data sources such as Twitter, SNA can expand your ability to quickly identify promising leads, distribute key messages through the most influential sources to reach your target audience and track online conversations in real-time. Continue reading

5 Ways to Spark New Ideas, from Marty Neumeier

This post is a part of our Think Piece series, in which we synthesize and share the most insightful concepts from our favorite books, articles & thought leaders. The following has been adapted from the writings of Marty Neumeier, The Skill of the Century: Dreaming, Rotman Magazine, Fall 2014. 

“Innovation is evolution by design.”

spark ideasIn periods of great change like the one we’re living through right now, one of the most important skills to possess is imagination.

It turns out that when people talk about ‘dreaming up’ an idea, they’re not far from the truth: imagination has been closely linked to dream states. Once we learn the ‘trick’ of dreaming – of disassociating our thoughts from the linear and the logical – we can become wellsprings of originality.

To innovate, you need to move from the known to the unknown. You also need to hold on to you beliefs lightly so that what you believe doesn’t block the view of what you might find out. The number-one hazard for innovators is getting stuck in “the tar pits of knowledge”. While knowledge can free us to imagine new-to-the-world ideas, it can also trap us into believing opportunities are smaller than they are.

Five strategies that can help trigger new ideas:

  1. Think in Metaphors – Thinking about problems metaphorically moves your thinking from the literal to the abstract, so you can more freely on a different plane.

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