2015 and Lessons Learned in Collective Impact: The National Scene

​One good way to take stock of 2015 is to recall the “lessons learned” at the national level, via the StriveTogether Network.  

Bob Wimpelberg and Ann McCoy attended the 2015 Convening of the Network in mid-October, hosted by Minneapolis and its StriveTogether alliance – Generation Next.

More than 60 communities sent participants to the Convening, and StriveTogether Managing Director, Jeff Edmondson, announced that membership in the Network has reached 65 communities, accounting for over 8 million students and 9600 partnering organizations.

What struck us as emergent ideas this year and what are the deeper pockets of discovery across this venture?

- The work of collective impact appears to progress more rapidly when individual partners assume greater areas of responsibility.  

o The corollary here is that in more mature organizations, progress moves more slowly when there’s an overreliance on staff.

- The tendency to replicate the world we know (the world of “programs”) is as strong as ever.  Instead, we need to start with the “outcomes” we want and adapt/align/reconfigure programs against those outcomes.

o At the convening, one participant characterized our normal mode of addressing change in the social sector as “random acts of programming.”

- Continuous improvement was, is, and will be a key ingredient in collective impact.

​o The School District of Menomonee Falls (Wisconsin) makes improvement from student performance to clean hallways to budget efficiencies by teaching every employee  -- from student to custodian to superintendent (and everybody in between) – how to use continuous improvement processes.

​​o The healthcare industry is bringing together teams of specialists from hospitals across the country to apply continuous improvement protocols to improve local outcomes. An active participant is Children’s Hospital, Cincinnati, which has adopted the tagline: “The Best at Getting Better.”