The first course on "Active Network Management" took place in MDF (Management for Development Foundation) in Ede in June 2011. This is the new version of a course which I have been giving since 2006.


Originally a two day module within a longer course, it grew to three days and became "Networking in Development", which MDF offered twice a year.  In 2010, MDF recognised the difference between network facilitation as opposed to project management, which has always been their core business.  So the course grew to a programme of two weeks, split into four modules:

  1. Concepts and Tools
  2. Facilitation
  3. Leadership
  4. Accountability


This format created the opportunity to integrate the FAN approach (Free Actors in Networks) with other areas of expertise at MDF, such as accountability and ‘Capacity Works’.

Unfortunately, there were not enough participants and we had to cancel the second week with modules 3 and 4. Perhaps the word needs to be spread that MDF also has expertise on network and alliance management. It is possible that networking is not as commonly known a concept as management.


Certainly all course providers are having a hard time in the current economic climate. Training and coaching are often seen as a soft part of the budget and tend to be swiftly cut when organisations get into financial difficulty.

Feedback from the seven professionals who did take part in "Alliance Network Management" was encouraging however. They found it inspiring and practical. Two were MDF staff who had become curious and subsequently became advocates for the network approach as well.


Looking ahead, there are always things to improve, especially after the first run of a new format.


In 2012, it will be offered as two modules of one week each:

  1. Network Tools and Accountability (focusing on concepts and tools)
  2. Facilitation and Leadership (focusing on personal skills)