Mar 2, 2022


Chris Brandt
Juan D'Brot
Lori Vandeborne
Ann Weber
Shot of a diverse group of businesspeople having a meeting in an office. They are sitting in a circle around a table in a room with lots of windows.

The Region 5 Comprehensive Center offers the second of two blog posts on the development of an effective Networked Improvement Community, focused on the strengths of diversity in building a team.

Region 5 Comprehensive Center along with state leaders in Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia has been working to develop and implement Networked Improvement Communities (NIC) to inform improvement initiatives with an organized approach. This blog is the second of a two-part series that provides an overview of Step 2 in the 8-step NIC process, initiating the NIC team. Please read part one, Establishing Teams for Networked Improvement Communities and you may also access ready-made facilitator resources on the NIC website.

Assembling a leadership team with diverse perspectives regarding the topic at hand is an important first step towards establishing and accomplishing the goals and vision for any Networked Improvement Community (NIC). The leadership team members are leveraged to recruit organizational partners for the NIC and provide ongoing direction and support for implementation. In recruiting and considering candidates for their roles in the NIC, it is critical to ensure that the NIC includes a range of representation from stakeholder groups and reflects professional diversity in terms of:

  • Perspectives – to allow NIC members to approach the problem from different angles (e.g., local schools of education, after-school organizations, and schools from geographically diverse areas).
  • Responsibilities – where NIC membership includes different offices within and across agencies (e.g., school finance, instruction, assessment, and human resources).
  • Community members– so that NIC members represent the demographics and composition of the community (e.g., racial/ethnic and socioeconomic groups, English language learners, students with disabilities, homeless and foster students, and students of military families).

Why is a diverse group of members so important to accomplishing NIC objectives?

Organizations, including SEAs, are complex and often siloed. Additionally, SEA roles tend to be specialized, which makes it difficult for one person to understand a complex problem from multiple vantage points. At the same time, each person has access to information or resources that may be critical to an intervention’s success. They also may be able to open doors and broker important connections that maintain buy-in and garner political will needed to sustain progress.

The NIC champion and leadership team should regularly review the team representation to assess whether it reflects a diversity of perspectives and, if there are groups not represented, how to ensure these voices are heard, particularly for traditionally marginalized groups. The NIC champion will also strive to achieve buy-in from all members and that the leadership team supports the effort through the alignment of professional goals, actions, and responsibilities.

Who are the key people within your organization to be involved in your NIC?

To determine NIC membership, you may use the information above to identify the project champion(s), along with key content, context, and research/data experts that will be critical to the project’s success. Be sure to consider people from other agencies (e.g., Department of Health; Social Services) who would need to be involved to ensure success. There are also ready-made resources for the development of a NIC team that can be found on the Region 5 NIC Website and may be modified and adjusted to meet your organizational needs.

For more information and support, contact the Region 5 Comprehensive Center.


Engelbart, D. C. (1992, August). Toward High-Performance Organizations: A Strategic Role for Groupware.

Engelbart, D.C. (1994). Boosting Collective IQ: A Design for Dramatic Improvements in Productivity, Effectiveness, and Competitiveness. Booklet downloaded at

Russell, J.L., Bryk, A.S., Dolle, J.R., Gomez, L.M., Lemahieu, P.G., and Grunow, A. (2017). A framework for the Initiation of Networked Improvement Communities. Teachers College Record, 119 (5), 1-36.

Bryk, A.S., Gomez, L.M., Grunow, A., and LeMahieu, P.G. (2015). Learning to Improve: How America’s Schools Can Get Better at Getting Better. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.