By Deb Halliday & Melissa Passarelli
The adage, “You can never step in the same river twice,” is a good reminder to collective impact practitioners who strive for systems-level change. Systems change takes persistence, adaptability and grace. How might we intentionally build those qualities into our work?
We explored this challenge in a workshop at the Help Me Grow (HMG) National Forum Week. HMG has a national network of communities implementing the HMG Model, a collective impact approach to early childhood system building. We were joined by Jen Juster of the Collective Impact Forum as we dove into key findings from the Tamarack Institute’s recent paper, A Guide for Building a Sustainable and Resilient Collaboration. In this blog, we share some key insights we gleaned from our discussion on resiliency.
Tamarack defines resiliency as the “ability of collaborative groups to navigate dynamic shifts and changes that occur in organizations and communities.” These shifts can include changes in leadership at partner organizations; changes in state law or funding that open up or shut down opportunities; or environmental changes, like a natural disaster or a pandemic.
Resiliency focuses on the internal conditions related to collaborative health and well-being, and includes our mindset as well as our practices. Tamarack identifies 10 “really good” resiliency practices. During our workshop, we explored four and provided examples from HMG.
- Build from the bottom and top: Foster a coalition that includes participation and perspectives from across the community. As Deb wrote in her blog, The Elephant in the Room, “Inviting in people with different perspectives is central to community building. Left to our own devices, we each create an understanding of how things work, what’s wrong and what will fix a particular challenge… It’s precisely when we pool our perceptions and surface our assumptions that we can begin to build a more complex and accurate understanding.”