As I mentioned earlier this week, I have the pleasure of working with Curtis Ogden on the Garfield Foundation’s Collaborative Networks initiative. We’ve been working with a fantastic new network on some very hairy challenges, and we’ve been talking a lot about how to setup a network for success.

I had the chance to capture some of Curtis’s thoughts on video Skype the other day, which you can watch above. I love his advice to “bring it,” and I loved how he articulated the different tensions that participants need to hold. It’s well worth ten minutes of your time to get a taste of Curtis’s wisdom and energy.

Update: February 5, 2014

Curtis blogged and expanded his thoughts on initial conditions for network success.


  1. Thanks for posting this, Eugene. As hard as it is to watch myself, I’m pleased to say my off-the-cuff ramblings capture what I do believe to be true from experience.

    Something else that I would like to add is the importance of inviting people to bring some awareness of power and privilege to the table. First of all, there is tremendous privilege in being able to take this kind of approach and being supported to do so. There are others who are out there working on the front lines, tirelessly, recognized and unrecognized, and it is important to bring that awareness and humility to the work. And also to remember that power and privilege are always at work in this work, are not an ancillary concern, but core to system change and (as you so well expressed it in a previous post) to taking a network approach.

    Looking forward to continuing to learn with and from you, Eugene, and to swapping roles (me the interviewer, you the interviewee) some time soon!


    1. Thanks for agreeing to let me put you on the spot! I’m glad you’re pleased with how it turned out. I loved what you shared, and I loved your addendum. Maybe in a followup conversation, we can share some stories about what it looks like to bring and build that awareness and humility around privilege and power. We all like to think we’re empathetic in practice, and yet I personally am constantly humbled by how my language and presence reveals unintentional, but very real narrowness. It can be very powerful to work through these issues in a group. I suspect we’ll have some great stories about this to share from the Collaborative Networks initiative alone!

  2. Thanks for sharing this Curtis and Eugene! Curtis I love how you naturally framed the pre-conditions as tensions. I agree with all of them; extremely helpful reminders. I also appreciate you pointing out the value of reflecting back to the group that the process tends to be uncomfortable, challenging; the value of using your position as an “expert” (or at least as someone more experienced) to share that those challenging feelings are not a sign of failure. That has also proved to be a critical success factor in my work. It’s one of the reasons I am so appreciative of Eugene’s effort to blog and share his and others’ experience through Faster Than 20. I regularly share his blog posts (and I’m sharing this video, thanks gentleman!) with networks and groups to help them be with the difficulties of the process.

    1. Thanks, Rapetzel, for your reply and for sharing the video. I have learned not only from experience but from so many mentors and other seasoned facilitators along the way. This work only engender humility and an appetite for learning! Otherwise you’re toast!:) And yes, grateful to Eugene for creating this space!

  3. Incredibly helpful and insightful. Curtis, thank you for being willing to be skyped and Eugene, thank you for making it happen, look forward to meeting you and working with you and to bringing it.

    1. Charlotte, I am so looking forward to being with you and the rest of the team next week, and to finally meeting you in person! I am especially looking forward to tapping into the wisdom of the whole group and learning from all of your experiences! Be forewarned: I carry my camera around with me often, and I like to use it. πŸ˜‰

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