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Articles on Collective Impact (and developmental evaluation)

From the AoH emaillist, early Spring 2014:

A friend just showed me this article on approaches to cross-sector coordination -- which reminds me (at first blush) of the teach on core teams that Tuesday and Tim just gave at the Beyond the Basics in Columbus.

"The social sector is filled with examples of partnerships, networks, and other types of joint efforts. But collective impact initiatives are distinctly different. Unlike most collaborations, collective impact initiatives involve a centralized infrastructure, a dedicated staff, and a structured process that leads to a common agenda, shared measurement, continuous communication, and mutually reinforcing activities among all participants."

There are companion pieces on "Backbone Organizations" that sound a bit like core teams, and "Embracing Emergence - How Collective Impact Addresses Complexity."

Have you seen this? Has it been talked about on the AoH list? Curious about any AoH practitioners takes on this model and approach. I meet with her tomorrow and would appreciate any pointing to previous conversations!
Jeff Aitken
San Francisco
Hello, Jeff. Thanks for bringing this possible connection between Collective Impact and the teachings at Beyond the Basics in Columbus. I was very fortunate to be able to attend that gathering, and thank Chris, Tim, Tuesday and Caitlin for their top-notch hosting! It was a very nourishing three days.

Back to Collective Impact. I have studied it and tried to use it, a bit. My overall impression is that, as with so many other things, it is easier to describe in a magazine article than it is to implement in real life! I don't think there have been many examples where all the necessary elements have been in place to fully test it as an approach. But it certainly deals with complexity and breadth, two of the themes we dealt with in Beyond the Basics.
Here is a more recent article that might interest you. It is by the same authors and attempts to address some of the questions that have arisen since the original article was first published. Embracing Emergence: How Collective Impact Addresses Complexity. 
Laurie Norris
Baltimore, MD
Thanks.  Now reading "Channeling Change: making collective impact work" a pdf online. A short accessible piece. Don't have the url now tho.
Developmental evaluation is big in this model. But so is having 2-3 years of funding from an anchor funder, and a champion who can gather CEO level cross-sector leaders, as preconditions for starting. The third precondition is urgency for change.
It's less grassroots in orientation than a Transition initiative for sure...

The link that Jess was referring to.






I've used this model with various communities across Minnesota and know others working across the US using the model successfully as well. In my work, I've used AoH methodologies when engaging staff in government agencies to build a new way of working together. Similarly we've used AoH teachings when engaging community members to shape the services they want from their government agencies. 
In my experience I've had more success using the collective impact model when talking with leaders (both elected and appointed), about the structure of change and the change process. I then incorporate all the strategies of engagement and "being with one another" I learned through AoH.
Happy to talk more if its helpful.
Laura LaCroix-Dalluhn
St. Paul/Minneapolis
Hi all,
I am consulting with several non-profits in my area around implementing Collective Impact.  There is a ground swell of attention going to Collective Impact in the non-profit sectors.  There is clear resonance in the non-profit circles that our current ways of creating impact in complex problems is not achieving the impact that is needed.  CI proposes a framework on creating a multi-sector collaboration.
As a AOH practitioner, I am integrating the AOH practices into the DNA of the CI projects I am working with.  The space where I feel that the work of AOH can have the greatest impact in Collective Impact and other collaboration models is in bringing the practice and tools of how we come together.  
An analogy around baking a loaf of bread may be helpful here.
CI creates a well thought out structure of how to build a structure for collaboration.  Akin to a recipe for collaboration. While there have been many recipes that have been created over time, CI is the one that is on the forefront of social change theory at this time.
To me, AoH is the yeast the creates the proper rising of co-creation principles, participatory practices and ways of being together that open up trust and relationships.
As we know with out yeast, even with the greatest recipe, all you will get is flat, bad bread.  
The reality is that Collective Impact needs a strong foundation of trust and relationships to move into deeper levels and spirals of collaboration.  Without this foundation many CI initiatives will lose steam, fracture or revert back to coordination level work.
I am excited to see the how the AoH and Collective Impact work can be aligned.
Kevin Hiebert

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