Setting Strategy Via a Participatory Approach

While listening to the stories of friends working in a range of institutions, such as public schools, corporations, and non-profits, I hear increasing frustration with how strategy gets determined by a small group “at the top” and rolled down. The people who implement a strategy or new program often do not have a voice to… Read more

Building a Shared Understanding of How Systems Work

I’ve just returned from the kick-off gathering of a collective impact initiative with the United Way of Greater New Bedford. A series of three community gatherings for input (as described in this blog) and other meetings with stakeholders led us to focus of how can we help families thrive, with a focus in one neighborhood. We… Read more

Open Sourcing Social Change

Most philanthropic work for social change is focused on investing grants in organizations as the unit of getting work done. The challenge is that for many issues and places, multiple foundations and/or government are investing in organizations pursuing disconnected initiatives, leading to silos that don’t talk to each other and competing organizations working in the… Read more

Roles in the Transition from Old to New

We are pleased to share this guest blog post by Peggy Holman, which originally appeared as a guest blog on Jesse Lyn Stoner’s blog.  Like a great wave, cultural stories carry us along, creating a coherent view of our world. For example, the phrase the “American Dream” evokes a story that has inspired generations to… Read more

Networks for Systems Change – Five Stories

The scale of complex systems we are working to change is much larger than one organization. Collaborative networks are emerging as a new way to organize work at a larger scale and create collective impact. We have found the best way to learn about these approaches is to explore stories of leading examples, as they… Read more

Collaborating from the Place of Common Ground

While the news is full of partisan politics, an alternative model is emerging for how to make progress in addressing large scale challenges: collaborative networks. Through network initiatives, parts of a system can come together, find common ground, and pursue solutions and collective action from those points of agreement. The Energy Action Network (EAN) in… Read more

What it Takes to Create Collective Impact – 20 Questions

I recently worked with the Garfield Foundation to design and facilitate a gathering of people who specialize in collaborative networks and systemic approaches to social change. This meeting convened about a dozen experienced practitioners for two days of rich, inspiring, expansive conversations about what it takes to do this work effectively. These insights will inform… Read more