I began my collective impact path a month after the 3.0 article was released last summer and it has taken a while to examine and understand the journey of the pre 3.0 era. My learning experience has been dynamic: I found collective impact to be a necessary alternative to the current collaborative processes, but still continued to seek concrete methods and tools for success. This is where the conference was very helpful with walking through and discussing the different tools for measurement and evaluation, and also connecting with others involved in community change. We became an extended community at this conference and though we were at different stages in our work, we were willing and open to share our struggles and highlight the little victories.
I cannot emphasize enough my appreciation for the workshops and tools discussed, because these gave me the opportunity to delve deeper into the different components of my community’s initiative to assess our current and future state. Before the event, I researched many community engagement resources and assumed that the backbone would facilitate every aspect of engagement. The conference emphasized the importance of stepping back to allow the community to take responsibility, which both empowers individuals and ensures we remain authentic in our work. Community members are well-positioned to be champions for social issues as they have expertise and spheres of influence—and it is our responsibility as community changers to enable equitable and inclusive spaces.
I think that collective impact 3.0 asks us to stray (solely) from results and pay attention to the stuff that happens along the journey. So, as we focus on changing the systemic landscape of the complex societal problems, we must continuously reflect and adapt. There are great tools that I picked up at the conference to analyze my collaborative’s process and progress; for example, the CI 5 Phase Self-Assessment Tool, the Empathy Map, Networking Mapping, and many more. I mentioned these three because they enable us to reflect honestly about how we are doing, who we might be missing, and also, to keep at the forefront of our minds the reason why we are involved in community change.
Finally, I came away with a renewed sense of patience and appreciation for the process in my work as well as the importance of refreshing at each stage. Though I sometimes revert to seeking concrete methods of implementing collective impact (breaking habits is a process!), I also find that I have become more open to adopting and customizing ingredients. As community changers, we are in the business of disrupting and change will come from evolving, not sticking to what we have traditionally done.