During my time at the Tamarack Community Change Institute, I noticed that many peoples’ focus was squarely on bringing techniques, tools and strategies back to their communities that could strengthen not only the work that they were doing, but act as a framework for future opportunities amongst partners, participants and others that have not yet come to the table.
Although, this insistence on an applicable, packaged toolkit may steer us in a direction that helps to bring ideas and actions forward quickly, it also has a downside. There is a way of approaching change, a concentration on philosophy, on values, on process that needs to be melded into the activities that we do in order to see sustainable impact.
There are two quotes throughout the Community Change Institute that helped to clarify in my mind the missing link, “programs do not solve problems, process does” and “all solutions have a half-life”. The first, recalibrates your mindset on the fact that actionable implementation of targeted projects and programs only go so far in being able to address a social issue and that relationship building, strategic thinking and systems assessment are all essential to creating the foundation for long-term change. The second quote, emphasized the importance of innovation, accepting that a tool, technique or strategy that works flawlessly today is not impenetrable to the shifts of context and culture.
As I move forward in my own corner of developing collective impact and collaboration motivated by a desire amongst many partners to shift thinking towards inclusion, self-determination and quality of life, I will be sure to emphasize the piece that is bigger than a funding solution, or a project plan…the need for scaling up.
Establish a message based in evidence, as the focal point for your overarching goal, make meaningful steps ahead by remembering that systems rely on change bigger than serving a few more people. I will aim to a paint a picture that showcases new ways of thinking about a reoccurring issue that broadens our concept of a solution from Band-Aid to a bolder, brighter design for systems disturbance and re-shuffling.
This is the third blog written by Hailey Hechtman, in a series of reflections about the 2017 Community Change Institute. Read others in Hailey's 2017 CCI series: