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Liz Weaver's 5 Good Ideas about Collective Impact

Posted on April 27, 2017
By Elayne Greeley

In preparation for Liz Weaver’s visit to St. John’s this month I geeked out all day Saturday by watching her video on the Tamarack site and creating this visual (you can click on it to see it larger)

liz weaver collective impact.jpg

It is really easy for me to jump into conversations about the Collective Impact framework and the community journey to learning and impact. That said,  I sure like the reminder of where our employment community is in the world of community/social change. I live in the partnership/collaboration world and use the CI framework for the networks growth. In the CI world we are 1.6 out of 3.0. It’s important to identify the place you are working from, in order to set your collective aim.IMG_2498

There are many ways to get at community-social change: community development, collective impact, neighbourhood revitalization, collaboration, networks and community economic development.

Big Idea #1: Complexity

Liz reminds us that Collective Impact as a framework is best suited for complex social problems where a lot of perspectives from all parts of the system are needed to make progress.

Big Idea #2: Systems Leadership 

Skillful and diverse conversations are the magical work that needs to be done. Leadership can be shared but individuals have to be thinking about the entire system. These leaders are network thinkers who appreciate that they are both part of the problem and solution. They are comfortable with difficult dialogues and what to create TOGETHER. These special leaders are visionary, nurturing, mobilizing and analytical.

Big Idea #3: Common Agenda

Networks are a great structure for aspirational and inspirational conversations but they may not lead to perspirational action. It’s people with different experiences working towards the health of the whole that they can get at impact.

Big Idea #4: Results

This big idea really got me thinking about the culture of work in my community.  I have a whole lot of theories on why I  have been contented in the past to work without real public measures of my work. I’ve really had to get curious about this. What does it mean for me personally? Is it capacity, skills, mindset, fear… What ever it is I’m over the hump and curiosity got me there.

Big Idea #5: Policy Shifts

If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. If the capital P Policy isn’t part of the aim them then we’ve got to ask ourselves if we are aiming high enough.

When I began the drawing I didn’t mean to make Liz look like a roman soldier but I think it kind of suits her. I think Meg Wheatley’s metaphor of community workers as warriors for social change might have been playing in my mind.

Collective Impact, Elayne Greeley

Elayne Greeley

By Elayne Greeley

Elayne Greeley is a community developer and partnership facilitator through the Community Career and Employment Partnership (

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