Network processes are veritable voyages of discovery, but why are they monitored and evaluated like chocolate factories? There is nothing wrong with such factories (we all love chocolate after all) but manufacturing operations are fundamentally different to network processes.


On October 24th, I had the honour to be one of four speakers in a webinar organised by the SEEP network. This is a global network of over 130 international practitioner organisations, dedicated to combating poverty through the promotion of inclusive markets and financial systems. It is made up of international development organisations and global, regional, and country-level practitioner networks. It is the largest and most diverse network of its kind. SEEP members are active in 170 countries and support nearly 90 million entrepreneurs and their families.


Their reason for inviting me was that organisers wanted a contribution that went further than the call for things to be done differently. The Timeline and Learning History developed in the FAN approach show that things can be and are being done differently. They were also impressed by the real life experience on the FAN approach is based on: the experiment with 120 networks in the Dutch livestock sector from 2004-7. Since then, stimulating innovation through networks has become mainstream in Dutch policy.


The webinar was attended by some thirty participants. There were some appreciative comments, but I missed a real discussion. I found it hard to talk to an invisible audience, although the technical setup was well organised. The organisers intend to use the material at the global SEEP conference in Washington, USA. Who knows the outcome.chocolate factories