Making Change Stick

Making collective impact work starts by underscoring the collective part.  Our alliance believes that when communities truly create change together, it is change that withstands funding cycles, election results, leadership and generational shifts.  It is change that sticks.

One of the hardest concepts to embrace when working on social problems is the idea that everyone brings something of real value to the table.  Lip service is easy.  Community input for the sake of inclusion is relatively easy.  The belief that everyone in a community has the understanding to shape smart thinking, and has resources to bring to a solution, is much more difficult.  But, that’s the path to a stronger solution and one that has lasting impact.

Social problems derive, in part, from the deficiency we all experience when we can’t be our best selves and fulfill our full human potential – either due to poverty, oppression, lack of opportunity, isolation or a number of other reasons.  Solutions must welcome, embrace and employ the “best stuff” from everyone involved.  Designing a solution, then, must be rooted in giving everyone touched by the problem a chance to contribute his or her best stuff.

The “best stuff” idea comes from a terrific mentor of mine named Bill Traynor.  For 30 years, Bill has worked as a community builder, running some of the most innovative programs out there including, among others, Lawrence Community Works in Lawrence, MA, and Neighboring America.  [http://risingclass.org/stories/entry/bill-traynor] Among the many things Bill taught me was the idea that the best solutions happen when you conscientiously design opportunities for interaction that:

  •  recognize and value what resources, knowledge, expertise and commitment every person can bring;
  • facilitate genuine exchange of those resources in an environment that feels free of class, position and institutional power;
  • make room for people who spark something together to take action on it together. [Read more…]