Blog Article Collection

Combining the Collaborative and the Collective

Added on: 5-Feb-14 12:00am

Author: Vivien Twyford

In three-weeks’ time I’ll be speaking at a Sydney conference on Collective Impact.

A relatively new movement in Australia, Collective Impact  focuses on the importance of working together to affect positive social impacts and change. Recognising that change doesn’t come about without a lot of work across different groups, Collective Impact offers principles and practices to support significant large-scale social change. In working with the Australian supporters of Collective Impact, Kerry Graham and Dawn O'Neil, I learned about the issue of homelessness in Kings Cross as an example of the Collective Impact approach. With about 11 different organisations identified as working independently on this problem, better results are being achieved through a collective energising and harnessing of community and professional efforts, which makes good sense.

According to its practitioners, Collective Impact has five conditions of collective success.

1 – Find a common agenda 

Focusing on something a community really wants to change and exploring all the different aspects and perceptions of this issue to achieve a common understanding of the problem and an agreed collective approach.

2 - Shared measurement

Collecting data and sharing solid empirical evidence rather than relying on anecdotes, opinions and impressions is important, as is consistently measuring results to monitor progress and outcomes.

3 - Design mutually reinforcing activities 

Social problems typically have multiple causes. Embedding all initiatives into a bigger plan ensures that they are connected, mutually supportive and maximise benefits.

4 - Ensure continuous communication

Ongoing and open communication over the long-term; building a common vocabulary; connecting with people; building trust; influencing change.

5 – Secure a backbone organisation

Identifying or creating an organisation to provide solid support to your efforts and co-ordinate activities.

As you may have already noticed, these conditions are very much aligned with our preconditions for collaboration, which is why I’m particularly interested in being part of this conference. Another sponsor and co-developer of the event is Social Leadership Australia. Director Geoff Aigner and educator Liz Skelton have recently published "The Australian Leadership Paradox; What it takes to lead in the lucky country", which is a great read with ideas that are closely aligned with ours. How to lead, how to bring people together to solve complex problems and collectively create positive change that impacts on our society is a powerful combination.

The conference, "Collective Impact 2014: Convene: Immerse: Learn",  will be a real opportunity to explore the alignment between Collective Impact, Social Leadership and Collaborative Governance. I'm sure we'll all be richer as a result of 200 people working and learning together over 2 days. Stay tuned. I'm sure I'll have some good news to share next month.

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