Five ways to drive large-scale social change by working cooperatively.
Leaders and organizations are acknowledging that even their best individual efforts can't stack up against today's complex and interconnected problems. They are putting aside self-interests and collaborating to build a new civic infrastructure to advance their shared objectives. It's called collective impact and it's a growing trend across the country. (...)
While collaboration is certainly not a foreign concept, what we're seeing around the country is the coming together of non-traditional partners, and a willingness to embrace new ways of working together. And, this movement is yielding promising results.
... five lessons for driving large-scale social change through collaboration:
- Clearly define what you can do together: As Dana O'Donovan of the Monitor Institute has noted, many organizations find collaboration to be messy and time consuming. From the very beginning, you must develop clarity of purpose and articulate, "What can we do together that we could not do alone?" (...)
- Transcend parochialism: Even the most well intended collaboration is often crippled by parochialism. Individual organizations earmark their participation and resources for activities that perfectly align with their own work or they use the collaboration platform as a way to get other participants to fund their own priorities. (...)
- Adapt to data: The complex, multidisciplinary problems that many collaborative projects tackle do not have easy fixes. These challenges require continuous learning and innovation and the use of real-time data to help participants understand what is and isn't working. Adjustments must be made on the fly. (...)
- Feed the field: You have an obligation to share what you learn — both the results and the methods for achieving them. Living Cities has long understood the value that our member institutions get by learning and working together. (...)
- Support the backbone: In our experience, progress is best achieved when a "backbone organization," keeps the group's work moving forward. Staff at these organizations ensure that work is completed between meetings, track data, enable adaptation, disseminate knowledge, and build buy-in and ownership from all participants.(...)
Ben Hecht is President & CEO of Living Cities, an organization that harnesses the collective knowledge of its 22 member foundations and financial institutions to benefit low income people and the cities where they live.