Building a Better Community Network
Trenton Health Team’s (THT) Community Advisory Board (CAB) includes more than 100 organizations from around the region and across sectors. We convene regularly to share information, brainstorm solutions and co-design interventions enhancing health and well-being — but is the CAB as effective as it could be?
To help answer that question, THT recently partnered with Visible Network Labs (VNL), a social enterprise helping organizations use Network Science to increase capacity to make a positive difference.
“Our goal is to visualize our shared network, and to understand and increase the value of the CAB to our partners and community,” said THT Director of Community Engagement Natasha Shabazz.
Network Science examines how we connect with others and how we do our work, allowing us to strategize about how to best manage relationships. A key principle of Network Science is that more is not always better. For example, data shows strengthening “weak” ties can expand access to resources and accomplish more than simply relying on existing “strong” ties with partners and familiar faces.
VNL provides technology, training and data analytics to build better collaborative strategies and improve outcomes. To help develop a network strategy for the CAB, THT is surveying its members to ask:
- What can the network achieve that an individual organization cannot?
- What should be the roles of THT and CAB participants?
- What is the quantity and quality of relationships in the network and what would make these relationships more effective?
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of being a participant in the network?
- How can we build on the advantages and mitigate the disadvantages?
Survey responses will inform the CAB’s work moving forward, enhance the value of participation in the CAB and encourage more productive relationships.
In addition to sharing aggregated survey results, THT also will provide each participant with a personalized profile with data and maps illustrating the agency’s multi-sector collaborative work.