I'm currently involved in establishing a network of consultants and practitioners working on embedding youth participation (called The Enfusion Network).
For the network to function at its best, we need to encourage practioners and consultants to engage with an open working style that allows the benefits of a network to emerge.
But as Seth Godin's post on bananas suggests… (and as our experience working to encourage organisations to embed young peoples engagement backs up…) 'selling' and encouraging change is tough.
But if we're serious about the need for Enfusion (which we are). And if we're serious about avoiding 'organisation building' and making sure that we have a responsive network that really serves to aid improved practice and impact in youth engagement (which we are), then we need to stick at it.
We've just had a working weekend to explore the next steps for the network, and from that I think our core challenges are:
- To keep our vision focussed on creating connections between practioners and consultants focussed on embedding youth engagement in organisations and communities – and to find ways of clearly keeping that focus while being open to allow interdisciplinary connections to emerge…
- To find creative ways of engaging potential network members in Enfusion – both showing the value of making small changes to working patterns in order to be able to engage through the network, and through creating positive opportunities for connections to be made (developing on from our conference calls and coffee house chats…)
- To find sources of funding and ways of becoming sustainable that don't rely on 'organisation building' and allow the network to remain agile and effective, responding to the needs in the field for critical discussion space, networking space and reflection space.
We're going to be working on meeting these challenges over the coming months, so all pointers and suggestions most welcome…