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Integrative Leadership ----> Collective Impact

Both CIL's Director Laura Bloomberg and the Public & Nonprofit Leadership Center's Jay Kiedrowski participated in the Twin Cities United Way's United Front 2011 event last Thursday. This year's theme was "The Power of Collective Impact" and Mark Kramer of FSG Social Impact Advisors, one of the co-authors of the recent well-publicized article on the concept, provided the keynote.

United Way video:

Jay Kiedrowski kicked off the event with some data trends and forecasts that were blunt about Minnesota's unsustainable safety net. What we are facing could be considered a perfect storm with public finances all but being erased at a time when our public system is being weighted down by shifting demographics and soaring health and education costs.

If there's any cause for optimism, it is in the fact that collective impact has brought the value of integrative leadership more solidly into our national awareness. It's got us talking about how this work can actually happen. In his May 2011 NY Times editorial, David Bornstein gets right to the heart of what's different about this concept:

Collaboration isn't new by any means, but this kind of directed coordination across many groups, and spanning different sectors, is novel.

While collaboration has been done, it hasn't necessarily been integrated into the DNA of our communities. As the first leadership center of its kind to be jointly affiliated with both a business school and a school of public affairs, we're advocates for expanding the study of and research on the type of leadership needed to achieve collective impact. We're asking questions like: What conditions and actions can accelerate it? What does increased or expanded collective action mean for traditional institutional and geographic boundaries?

This national awareness of "collective impact" makes us even more excited for our Spring 2012 integrative leadership course and the research we are sparking among UMN faculty and students in preparation for our 2012 national integrative leadership research conference focused on creating public value in a shared power world.

Integrative Leaders use and share data!
What Lucy Bernholz over at Philanthropy 2173 points out as particularly new is the ability to share data in revolutionary ways. But just because the technology exists to do this, doesn't mean our capacity to do it effectively has caught up. Shared outcomes have surfaced as one of the hardest of the "five conditions for collective success" to achieve.

I saw a big connection between the interest in shared measurement systems at the United Front event and last week's release event for long-time CIL ally Peter Heegaard's new book "More Bang for Your Buck" highlighting examples of organizations around Minnesota innovatively measuring social impact (available soon here!) While probably not fitting for every social service, the kind of ROI measurements he highlights can be a highly potent tool in producing shared measurements. One of his suggestions we found interesting is that the University of Minnesota partners with a capacity-builder, such as the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, to help develop a standardized ROI measurement tool for organizations to use statewide.

There is still much to be explored and learned about the practice of integrative leadership, but we're happy that events like United Front 2011 and integrative thought leaders such as Peter Heegaard, Mark Kramer and John Kania are raising awareness and dialogue about the topic.

Do you see a connection between integrative leadership and collective action? How can we continue to connect these two concepts in theory and practice?

The United Front 2011 organizers have generously posted a number of great resources and upcoming events around collective impact on their site. You can also follow the Twin Cities United Way on twitter at @UnitedWayTC or follow the twitter conversation using #UnitedFront2011.

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