Albania, Argentina, Bulgaria, Colombia, El Salvador, Georgia, Hungary, Iraq, Jordan, Kosovo, Lebanon, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru, Poland, Senegal, Serbia, Slovakia, United States, Yemen
A close-knit network made up of 22 local, autonomous organizations working for peaceful and democratic change, the Partners Network has been jointly investing in local leaders, local organizations, and local solutions since 1989. Partners Network Centers are some of the most well-respected and established civil society organizations in their countries.
After 30+ years, the Network determined that its structure and governance systems were no longer meeting its needs. Following a global search process, Common Ground was chosen by the PeaceNexus Foundation to provide organizational development assistance to the Network.
Our long term role has been to help them imagine and engineer a new vision for their work—one with a supportive structure, appropriate and forward-leaning systems, and management and governance processes that fully engage the breadth of knowledge and experience of their independent member organizations.
By transforming the way leaders think about conflict, sharing values-driven processes, and working together, the Partners Network is achieving peacebuilding impacts on a massive scale, bending the curve of conflict-sensitive development toward a more engaged, accountable, and sustainable future.
Historically, the Partners Network has been among the world’s leading organizations working to win the future of peacebuilding, conflict transformation, and democratic change. And yet, several years of inaction—often driven by a lack of trust—prompted the Network to engage us to help clarify its purpose, activities, structures, and governance.
Over the course of several months, Common Ground conducted a comprehensive review of existing data and the results of several prior network assessment processes. Our review found the need for a novel approach that would directly engage all of the Network’s members in candid and difficult conversations and included several key steps:
- A careful mapping of what members consider the Network’s core functions, as well as what members see as the added value of the Network;
- A review of the various forms of organizing relevant to the Network’s functions, with a focus on innovative models and on-line collaboration;
- The facilitation of a series of surveys and calls focused on specific issues uncovered through our analysis, as well as a separate series of regionally-focused calls; and
- A working retreat in which existential decisions about the Network’s future would be made.
Prior to the decision-making retreat (which we designed and facilitated), we provided members with a comprehensive analysis detailing the myriad issues facing the Network, including its need to redefine its purpose, implement our recommended structural and governance changes, and develop new systems and ways of achieving impact.
By the end of the retreat, the Network 1) Adopted new vision and purpose statements; 2) Designed and adopted a new structure fully defining the key functions and decision-making authority of the coordinator, a new “Liaison Group,” and the network as a whole 3) Established a clear mandate for a newly-selected network coordinator; and 4) Made several other important decisions related to financial stability, decision-making processes, and more.
The PeaceNexus Foundation was so happy with the results of the engagement that they committed to follow-on support to help the Network implement its decisions.
A network allows a broad range of people and organizations to identify their shared interests, to deepen their understanding of the systems they are seeking to change, and to find a shared framework from which to act. Members of a network are unlikely to agree on each and every philosophical point, but they can use their relationships and sense of shared purpose to coordinate actions capable of producing social change.