We talk about the “Constellation” and you may have heard talk of a “Starfish organisation” but what do you think the Constellation actually looks like?  Well, like stars in the sky they are all going about on their own journey through the sky and occasionally when they align great things happen, and the picture becomes clearer.


We have been using Social Network Analysis as a way of producing a picture of the Constellation.  At the moment we are focussing on coaches, board and CST but it should be possible in future to extend it all Constellation members.


 Coaches were asked to indicate who they had connected with in 2009 both face to face and virtually. We put that information into a computer programme called Netminer and produced a series of pictures.   I’ll share them with you one or two at a time over the next few weeks so that we have time to look at them and discuss them. I'll attach them in case you want to print them off or enlarge them.


This first one shows the Face to Face connections between coaches.

 The symbols represent:  Green triangle - CST, Blue diamond - Coaches, Red circle - Board members and grey star – no data provided.  


 The lines between the people show the connections and the darker the colour the greater the frequency of connecting. The lines connecting - grey represents (1) every few months, green (2) every few weeks, light blue (3) weekly and blue (4) daily. People had different perceptions or interpreted the frequency slight differently but this is the result. Where perceptions are different the line changes colour half way.


The software computes where people are positioned according to the number and frequency of connections.  This means unsurprisingly that the CST members are closer to the centre of the picture.  Every single person is important to the Constellation, and more connections to them makes it easier for that person to be involved and inspired by others.  It can give us ideas what we can do individually to connect those who are not well connected (perhaps ourselves.) Some are better connected face to face than they are virtually and others the opposite. 


This second picture shows the virtual connections via Skype, email or Ning.


Some coaches are well connected globally others operate solely within their own country. Some connect with a few people frequently and others connect with lots of people irregularly. All of these are valid ways of working, but what can we learn from it.


 What are the pictures telling us?  It prompted Laurence to ask,  “Who are the 'Connectors' within the Constellation. Once I know this I can better tap into the existing network to share the approach, to stimulate the 'connectors' to spread a message. It is also important for me to know who are disconnected from the others to stimulate them more to share, on Ning for instance.”


And Marlou thought “it would be very interesting to see how people feel connected to the work of the Learn, Share or Transfer function.”


 When you look at these pictures what are they telling you?  What do you see? How does it make you feel?

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Dear Geoff,

Overwhelmed! That was my first reaction to the pictures.

Firstly, the pictures show that virtual connections are stronger and greater in number than face-to-face meetings which is indicative of how cost-effective methods can be used to connect and link people. Secondly, it also illustrates coaches which have not be been used to their full potential. Thirdly, the pictures depict that through these coaches/CST/board members hundreds of communities are inter-connected and how many opportunities and possibilities exist to learn, exchange and transfer.

In one word, I would call it- INTER-CONNECTEDNESS all part of a whole.

Excellent Geoff. Look forward to more:-)

Warm regards,

Rituu
I love the idea of a Constellation so much, and nothing better than these pictures to show it. It also reflects the freedom to intensely connect or just connect; but yet these are at moments of time, there may be other times when some of these may change. Very interesting and makes you think and examine yourself as well. Thanks Geoff for sharing this
Regards
Sanghamitra
The CST provides the connections

Here are some more pictures of the Constellation, this time without the full time CST and Jean –Louis.

One measure of the strength of the community is to see how well connected we are without the CST. There has been comparison with a Starfish in previous blogs. [see http://aidscompetence.ning.com/profiles/blogs/the-constellation-is-a and http://www.starfishandspider.com/index.php?title=About_the_Book ] What’s special about a starfish? Well you can cut off part of a starfish and it acts as if it is a complete entity. One worry about the Constellation is how well connected is the Constellation without the efforts of Marlou, Gaston, Laurence, Lawan, Lek and Jean-Louis? The pictures show plenty of Connections both Face to Face and virtually which shows we are a healthy community.


What else can you see in the pictures?
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