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Change Agent Leadership for #socialgood

Posted on December 16, 2014
By Jo Cavanagh

At Family Life our purpose is transforming lives for stronger communities. Whilst we have in mind the characteristics of the stronger community we are aiming for, we do not necessarily know the detail.

We can think of transformation as metamorphosis. Just as “the caterpillar holds no description of the butterfly” we can explore together the research and create the new future we want – the better outcomes for everyone.

This means we need to work with emergence and be comfortable with uncertainty.  Some of us find that exciting, others feel frustrated and yet others may be quite anxious.

This leads me to think about Change Agent Leadership. I recently presented my thoughts at the Creating the Future We Want forum in Melbourne. Together with colleagues committed to promoting outcomes focussed collective effort, I shared these thoughts. Encouraged by the response from participants, I am keen to hear what readers and fellow bloggers in the Collective Impact world might think. #collectiveimpact #collabforimpact


John Kania has recently written about The Dawn of Systems Leadership, beautifully integrating with Peter Senge’s work on systems thinking. I am thinking that Change Agent Leadership is  aligned in that the mindset we need requires us to embrace the tensions in complexity and the controversy ignited by challenging the status quo – by asserting the way we do things now is not good enough, and that we must work together to change the factors and structures which create and generate enduring social problems.

Drawing on reading and learning from many, my synthesis of what is needed for Change Agent Leadership is the following:

  1. Understanding process and relationship
  2. Credibility for caring about the other and protecting what we share – “the commons” (as per Elinor Ostrom *)
  3. Experience in working with limited resources which keeps us nimble and creative.
  4. A mindset which keeps seeing the possibilities for empowering action (rather than sinking into reform or change fatigue and inertia).
  5. Systems thinking constantly in play as the basis for design thinking
  6. Ability to mentally “bungy jump” back into the evidence to think forward for applying into emergence for improving outcomes.

So I return to the caterpillar and the butterfly; metamorphosis and transformation.

Working towards a changed community where everyone thrives and is cared for is possible.

We can imagine how this utopia would be.

What we need are the change agents and change agent leadership to grow ideas into action for collectively designing and learning together to map and implement the journey to get there.

Your feedback and thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Can we develop this further???

Collective Impact

Jo Cavanagh

By Jo Cavanagh

Jo Cavanagh is a social entrepreneur and community sector leader focused on empowering change In partnership with citizens and local communities to promote well being for all. Believer in our common human need for belonging and love as the opportunity to work from a positive view of others and the potential for achieving #socialgood and collaborating for wellbeing and peace.

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