Shared Learning for Collective Impact
Collective impact occurs when organizations from different sectors agree to solve a specific social problem using a common agenda, aligning their efforts, and using common measures of success.
Collective impact is a powerful, innovative, and highly structured approach used to confront deeply rooted and complex social problems. It is a framework for collaboration between businesses, non-profit organizations, citizens, government, etc., to realize significant, measurable and lasting social change. Unlike collaboration or partnership, Collective impact initiatives have a centralized infrastructure–known as a backbone organization–with dedicated staff whose role is to help participating organizations shift from acting alone to acting in concert.
John Kania and Mark Kramer of the social impact consulting firm FSG identify five key elements of collective impact:
- All participants have a common agenda for change including a shared understanding of the problem and a joint approach to solving it through agreed upon actions.
- Collecting data and measuring results consistently across all the participants, ensuring shared measurement for alignment and accountability.
- A plan of action that outlines and coordinates mutually reinforcing activities for each participant.
- Open and continuous communication across the many players to build trust, assure mutual objectives and create common motivation.
- A backbone organization(s) with staff and specific sets of skills to serve the entire initiative and coordinate participating organizations and agencies.
“[W]e believe that there is no other way society will achieve large-scale progress against the urgent and complex problems of our time, unless a collective impact approach becomes the accepted way of doing business.”
John Kania and Mark Kramer
Shared learning involves developing collaboration with partners working on problems that require multilevel systems solutions.
It involves delving deeply into interacting causes by bringing together quantitative and qualitative methods, systems science, and transdisciplinary partnerships. It involves trying out possible solutions, then learning rapidly what works and what does not work in different contexts so that new ways forward can be discovered and rapidly refined.