Quick!  Think about the last experience you had with solving a significantly impactful problem.  Got that idea in your mind?  Did you work by yourself?  If you did, do you think it would have been easier to accomplish with others?  Maybe you are saying, “I know how it goes when you work with others…”  I know, group work can be a dreaded task.  You might not be sure who is responsible for what or if the people responsible for each part will come through for the team.  What if I told you there is a process to help decrease the stress of group work when addressing complex, large-scale problems and it is being used right here in Wayne County.  Think again!

Forward Wayne County is actively using collective impact to gain commitment from local actors across multiple sectors to align with a common agenda to solve BIG social problems.  It would probably be helpful to highlight what collective impact is, right?  Collective Impact (CI) is a framework for influencing systems change, which has been used internationally to spur positive change in many complex areas such as:

  • improving health on college campuses
  • using donor dollars more wisely
  • helping youth learn life skills 

These complex areas directly align with focus areas many Wayne County residents have for the county.  But what does it all really mean?

When I was first introduced to CI, I craved more information. I understood the concept at surface level, but I needed more substance and details to this explanation. To me, it seemed CI was just a fancy way of saying collaboration. I was not 100% clear on the connection between CI and Forward Wayne County the concept all seemed overly complicated.

Within the CI framework, there are five conditions that, when met, will allow Forward Wayne County to support change in the areas Our People and Our Community.  The following five conditions set simple, collaboration and CI apart. 

As the backbone organization for Wayne County change, Forward Wayne County focuses on many things, including:

  • guiding vision and strategy
  • supporting aligned activities
  • establishing shared measurement practices
  • building public will
  • advancing policy
  • mobilizing funding

These activities change over time. Day-to-day, Forward Wayne County provides support to organizations in many different ways in order to help positive change happen with partners, funders, policymakers, and community members… like you!

At the start of this post, collective impact might have been a new concept for you. At this point in time, it is likely very clear that collective impact aims to have entities coordinate efforts and resources in order to create lasting large-scale changes when addressing social issues. This view is vastly different than the idea of “isolated impact” where orgs, groups, and businesses work alone, in silos, to make changes for the commmunity-at-large. 

What do you think?  How might collective action, shared agreement, and continuous communication be used to make meaningful and sustainable change for Wayne County? Are there any current issues that affect Our People or Our Community that could be best addressed by agencies and funders coming together and taking collective action? Where can Forward Wayne County make the most impact by facilitating change within Wayne County? 

Leave me your thoughts below and be sure to stay connected with Forward Wayne County on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn! Use the hashtag #forwardINwayne when sharing your stories so we can stay updated on how you are moving Wayne County forward!

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