10 visuals that describe all you need to know about collective impact

A couple months ago, I was fortunate to be able to attend the Collective Impact Summit cohosted by The Civic Canopy and Tamarack Institute. A wide range of topics related to working collaboratively were discussed, which left me feeling both inspired and eager to learn more.

Naturally, the whole time I had my eyes peeled for ways that relevant knowledge is not only being captured but is being transferred. Since then, I've run across a few extra examples of how folks are using visuals in particular to share insights about collaboration.

Below are ten visuals I recreated to synthesize my learning. I believe they describe just about everything there is to know about Collective Impact to date.

1. Why is Collective Impact a critical approach to today's problems? This model described by organizational theorist Ralph Stacey shows that complexity is at the intersection of uncertainty and disagreement. This is certainly widespread today, and it is what Collective Impact models hope to address. Thankfully these factors are also a breeding ground for experimentation and creativity. That is what I believe Collective Impact opens the door to. 

2. How is collaboration different from other ways we work together? This distilled version of Tamarack's collaboration spectrum shows that collaboration requires us to work more closely together and thus to build trust with one another.

3. What does community engagement mean? Engagement is a key component of Collective Impact or really any successful collaborative effort in the social sector. The International Association for Public Participation's Spectrum of Public Participation shows how goals and styles of engagement can vary based upon the commitments and subsequently the impact made.

4. How does collaboration affect results? The research and insights of social physicist Sandy Pentland reveal that the greatest return on investment happens when individuals are both sharing information with one another and engaged in active exploration. Collaborative efforts that entail both of these will have the greatest impact.

 5. What are best practices for group formationResearch by Darrin Hicks shows there are two models for success:

  • Thoughtful inclusion, in which new members first build rapport with a smaller group before participating with the larger group
  • Deliberative planning, in which time is spent reaching a consensus before bringing new members into the group

6. What are best practices for individuals? Organizational psychologist Adam Grant's studies of workplace personalities shows that a balance of self-interest and interest in others leads individuals to the most favorable outcomes. Note that those with a high interest in others can also have the lowest performance, if their selflessness is not kept in check. In other words: self care is key for these folks. 

7. What are best practices for groups? More research by Darrin Hicks explains that paying attention to group process is key to success. Balancing this with attention to outcomes is what will lead to optimal group function.

8. How can groups work toward consensus? This ORID framework is a facilitation method used by Technology of Participation. Participants first discuss facts, then emotions, then solutions, and finally decisions. 

10. How should groups evolve over time? Stanford Innovation Review outlines these phases of Collective Impact, but Collaboration for Impact notes that collaborative work isn't linear, it's cyclical. As researcher Bruce Tuckman put it: groups will form, storm, norm, and perform, and then transform or adjourn and mourn.

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Want to learn more about collaboration? Download my ebook here.

Do you know of other research, models, experts, or insights? Please leave a comment below!