Network of Networks to Prevent Child Abuse

Across the US, many groups work to end child abuse and neglect. Each group has its own funding source, theory of change, and history of relationships, successes, and failures.

A federal client of ours wanted to unify the diverse approaches to lend more power to the national movement to end child maltreatment. Recognizing that previous efforts at shared governance and top-down organizations had been costly and ineffective, she called the HSD Institute to ask for help.

In a series of interviews, it became clear that none of the conditions for coherent collaboration were in place. Many said, We need a vision that will hold us all together, but that will never be possible. Others focused on how different and siloed the various traditions were, ignoring the potential value those differences could offer. A third pattern emerged to show that interactions for the movement were at the national or regional levels, but seldom were local players connected for shared action toward co-creation.


Using these insights, HSD staff helped set conditions to create a coherent Network of Networks to End Child Abuse and Neglect. In a two-day meeting, 300 participants contributed to one video vision statement of their shared work that

was embraced by all. Groups submitted their favorite and varied projects to invite support from others across the nation. Finally, local groups were convened to see, understand, and influence local patterns of collaborative action.

These three, relatively simple steps were not easy to do. They required courage and creative energy, but they set conditions for many emergent collaborations to integrate the many communities who protect children from harm

Related Resources

All human systems are self-organizing, and teams are a great example. Individual agents come together from different places with different skills and expectations. They interact in meetings and over email. Over time, patterns form of high performance or wasted effort.
September 26, 2013 In this presentation, Glenda Eoyang talks about collaboration and how HSD can support effective, generative collaboration. She explores ways to set conditions for collaboration that work wherever the team is.
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