Stories & Values - The Network Glue

This past week we shared a very special episode. Angie has been working away on her thesis project for her Master’s in Leadership at Royal Roads University, and she finally shared some details of her action research and report with our dear friend and former co-host Stacy Hale. This enlightening conversation leads down a path of discovery, as they realize the many parallels between design thinking and action research.

Stacy and Angie also talk about emergence and self-organization within human networks. They use Foster Care Alumni of America (FCAA), which is the sponsoring organization for Angie’s thesis project, as a dynamic example of these types of networks. FCAA is a nonprofit organization designed to connect and empower adults who were once in foster care. It’s an amazing organization, because it not only provides a sense of belonging and support for people who have gone without family, our most core human network; it also inspires action and reform within the system of child welfare.  Their tagline is “Connecting Today, Transforming Tomorrow”, which speaks directly to their mission to support a community of people with similar life stories and to inspire hope and drive change within the entire foster care system.

The power and strength of human networks becomes very apparent when you take a closer look at FCAA, as a case study, for despite experiencing financial set-backs and having a very limited organizational structure; their network grows larger and stronger each year.

In the episode, “Exploring Complex Human Networks”, Stacy describes FCAA as an “emergent social network powered by shared narratives and shared values”. And, we believe it is the collection of member's stories, along with their shared values, which has propelled FCAA network growth.

Relatable human stories have the ability to bind a network together, especially when there is no formal structure within the network. It is important to note that the most powerful stories, meaning the ones that glue a network together, always focus on people, not the ideas or the sizzle. They are relatable and human. And, these stories ultimately allow networks to quickly create order out of chaos, because of the superior level of trust between agents. They shape how we perceive our history and influence what we believe for our future. So, when people share common stories, they share a mindset. They create a sense of "us", which is the key to effective self-organization. 

People who tell and believe the same stories hold the same values. They share a worldview. In fact, a worldview is just a collection of stories about how things have come to be the way they are and what we should do about them. A good story is therefore the fundamental ingredient in allowing humans to create a sense of us. Shared stories, shared values, shared worldview - us.
— Jonah Sachs

You can listen to the HumanCurrent podcast here and don't forget to subscribe in iTunes. In our new episode, Angie shares the details of her action research for her thesis. She also introduces the topic of human networks with guest Mary Anne Herrick, who is thePresident of Foster Care Alumni of America and Communications Officer at World Vision Water Project. -- Let's work happy!