By Suzii Paynter March
Katherine Millligan, a leading expert in Collective Impact innovation research recently wrote, “… complex, adaptive problems defy tidy logic models and reductive technical solutions. It is time to invest our collective energy in more relational and emergent approaches to transforming systems.”
Remarking on the relational nature of effective systems-change strategies, she and her fellow authors note, “People who work with collective impact efforts are all actors in the systems they are trying to change, and that change must begin from within.”
“Powerful inner change is a relational and iterative process: The individual shifts the collective, the collective shifts the individual, and on and on it goes. That interplay is what allows us to generate insight, create opportunities, and see the potential for transformation.”
As much as we try to describe clear steps to implement collective impact, it remains a messy and fragile process. Many attempts will no doubt fail, although the many examples we have studied demonstrate that it can also succeed with terrific impact. Yet even the attempt itself brings one important intangible benefit that is in short supply nowadays: hope.
Hope! So many moments of recognition, support, and gratitude deliver HOPE. So many times respectful conversation, listening, and applied creativity deliver HOPE! So many times affirmation, not analysis, delivers HOPE!
Rev. Marlon Jones was looking to remember Waco’s first African American public health nurse practitioner – he asked for help. “Thank you Prosper Waco, it was HOPE delivered!”
Recognizing the contributions with “atta-girl” to Emilie Cunningham, Becky Scott, Coleen Folleen, Delissa Smith, Chris Houston, Iliana Neuman, Laura Danforth, and Sherry Williams is HOPE delivered.
“I came by for a meeting, I left with new ideas and a renewed spirit. Thank you Prosper Waco,” it was HOPE delivered.
“We needed a flexible solution and the freedom to try something we were unsure of – thank you, Prosper Waco.” HOPE delivered!
“We were looking to research cross sector efforts that use data well. Texas Health Institute says thank you, Prosper Waco, for sharing in focus groups.” HOPE delivered.
“I graduated from UpSkill and got a new medical job in two days. This is for me and my kids! Thank you, Prosper Waco and MCC.“ HOPE delivered.
“I know I am an insurance provider, but I need to be a part of this working group. I can do better to share more about benefits and access to healthcare.” Thank you, Prosper Waco. HOPE delivered.
“I am laughing because I have said these words before: I want to be able to do MORE THAN THE TALK! Thank you for the website. HOPE delivered.
“Is this the tangle title place? Can my house be fixed?“ Thank you, Prosper Waco. HOPE delivered.
“I have a passion to help families. I found this coalition. Now I can lead the work.” Thank you, Prosper Waco . HOPE delivered.
“We can’t know a solution without dissecting the data. We need numbers by race, by age, by neighborhood. This is a picture of our city and region down to the street.” Thank you, Prosper Waco. HOPE delivered.
Milligan’s insight bears repeating with these comments in mind: Powerful inner change is a relational and iterative process: The individual shifts the collective, the collective shifts the individual, and on and on it goes. That interplay is what allows us to generate insight, create opportunities, and see the potential for transformation.
Change happens in this iterative cycle. HOPE delivered.
Suzii Paynter March is CEO of Prosper Waco, our community’s collective impact initiative to address education, health, and financial security.