Leading theory to action

Thursday, March 28, 2019

The Learning Wall - attendees placed sticky notes with what they learned from the workshop on a wall togetherParticipants placed sticky notes with what they learned from the workshop on the Tamarack Learning Wall 

The Kindred Credit Union Centre for Peace Advancement acts a bridge in many ways: between academia and practice, the local and the global, theory and action. We act as a backbone, supporting many organizations and individuals who are pursuing innovative and collaborative ways of advancing peace. Each of our participants and affiliates are boldly tackling complex issues, pushing the boundaries to make lasting change. In order to support organizations who are on the cutting-edge, we also need to be on the cutting-edge. This month, Centre for Peace Advancement Coordinator Amy Zavitz, attended the Tamarack Institute-led workshop, Collective Impact: Leading Theory to Action.

Collective Impact is defined by John Kania and Mark Kramer of FSG: Social Impact Consultants as, “a disciplined, cross-sector approach to solving complex social and environmental issues on a large scale.” When the conditions of (1) having a common agenda, (2) using shared measurement, (3) having mutually reinforcing activities, (4) continuous communication and (5) having backbone support are utilized, Collective Impact can have a remarkable effect on addressing a broad range of complex issues. The workshop dug into the evolving theory and principles of success, and how to lead theory into action.

This “Train-the-Trainer” workshop explored practical tools that can used at all stages of Collective Impact initiatives. The following are just a few of the many tools that the Tamarack Institute has developed and/or utilizes.

  • As a team is determining whether to use a Collective Impact approach, they need to consider where their initiative is at. The CI Five Phases Self-Assessment & Planning tool guides leadership in taking stock of where they are, and what they will need to move forward.
  • To have a successful Collective Impact initiative, stakeholders not only need a shared vision, but a shared approach. The Common Agenda Planning Canvas helps the leadership table gain greater clarity on the group’s initial thinking, and where points of contention might arise.
  • To move beyond managing the issue into movement building, we need to better understand the issue from a systems lens. Empathy mapping helps broaden perspectives by learning from people who experience the issue, and understanding the perspective and constraints of decision makers.
  • Sharing data with communities, service providers or other stakeholders, and gaining their insights and expertise on interpretation, is an important steps in continuous learning. Hosting a Data Walk is an effective tool to inform, empower and engage.

Tamarack’s Learning Centre exists to empower community changemakers to achieve greater impact, and Collective Impact is one of five interconnected ideas that leads to community change. Tamarack also provides training, tools and resources for Community Engagement, Collaborative Leadership, Community Innovation and Evaluating Community Impact. With over 15 years of experience in this field, Tamarack is well-positioned to help equip and guide community changemakers.

We are keen to share these resources with our partners and help equip them to turn theory into action!