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May 9, 2016 by Katie Edwards0

Facilitating Energize: High Impact Shared Spaces in Philadelphia was the highlight of the month of April from me. It is rare that we have so many practitioners from all across the country in one room – the energy is amazing!  As we planned the curriculum, we wanted to make sure that there was plenty of time for peer learning.

We started off the day with the “hard skills” of analyzing a business model and bringing it into balance, but the discussion really blossomed when we got into more of the interpersonal skills that it takes to create a shared space. Here are some key takeaways from the day:

  • Culture is an investment: Creating a culture of trust is a foundational step towards getting new groups to work together. It doesn’t happen overnight, and since each tenant partner has its own organizational culture, it’s going to take someone to lead the way. Make sure you are allocating enough time to culture building and maintaining the good will of your partners.
  • Find your “First Followers:” Network mapping is a vital tool for shared spaces, and it can be used in many ways. One of the exercises that we did with the group was to map the stakeholders in your space on a bullseye, with those who are bought in to the mission closest to the center and those that you haven’t talked to at the edges. This visualization can help you see where relationships need to be built and identify the “First Followers” (  who might be able to help you influence others. One participant shared that after doing the exercise it was clear that the leadership was bought in to the mission, but the rest of their employees weren’t as engaged.
  • Be clear on your goal: Whether it’s leading a collaboration or trying to evaluate your impact, make sure to take the time to create a clear goal. This step seems deceptively simple, so many groups head straight into convening groups and making action plans to see what sorts to the top. Knowing what outcome you want to achieve will save time and money, by guiding you directly to your destination.

We are considering hosting Energize: High Impact Shared Spaces again next year. If you want to be the first to know, fill out this short form ( )!

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About Our Blogger:

Katie Edwards

Katie connects NCN members with the resources they need to make their projects a success. She holds an M.P.A. in Nonprofit Management from Indiana University, where she studied nonprofit co-location as part of her coursework. Katie’s research background and her first-hand experience with the Co-location Task Force for the Indianapolis’ Early Intervention and Prevention Initiative give her a unique perspective on shared spaces and nonprofit centers.

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