Snapshots from the Summit 2014 – Day 4


Day 4 of the Collective Impact Summit in Toronto this week brings with it more deep learning and engagement. I am happy to share more Summit highlights from October 9, 2014.


Our focus: Breathing Life into Your Plans: Effective Implementation


Jay Connor of The Collaboratory for Community Support presented the keynote address, “We All Need To Work Differently to Achieve Collective Impact.”

Catalytic Leadership: Strategies for an Interconnected World (

  • In traditional organizations, the leaders are responsible for the plan.  In a community collaborative project, the catalytic leader is responsible for the outcomes.
  • Francis Ford Coppola:  “In a good movie everybody is making the same movie

Erie Together ( Working together to make the Erie region a community of opportunity where everyone can learn, work and thrive.

  • Community was galvanized by a newspaper headline in 2008 announcing that Erie County had the highest poverty rate in Pennsylvania.  Mayor, United Way, and church leaders responded, but stepped back to let the community lead organically and focus on outcomes.
  • Inspired by other successful poverty-reduction efforts and were inspired by the work of the Hamilton Roundtable on Poverty Reduction and their Mission: Making Hamilton the best place to raise a child.
  • While focused on poverty reduction, they recognized that ultimately their work was to make the whole community a better place.
  • Erie began defining themselves by stating what they are not.  This changed the whole sense of ownership for the initiative.  Take all of the diverse, patchwork things people were doing, and give them some alignment and coordination towards a common goal.

The Aspiration Process: Learn – More Children become successful adults.

  • To get from the present to the desired state, we have to think differently about structures, processes, and measures.  This can be very difficult to do within existing systems structures, but by bringing the community together around an aspirational goal we build inclusive ownership.
  • The breakthrough came in mobilizing multiple self-organizing action teams to create a transformational change process that is facilitated by a small 2 person backbone.

The Keystone Outcome (

  • Research revealed that 3rd Grade Reading Proficiency directly correlated to a large number of other outcomes.  By focussing on this single measurable outcome Erie Together recognized they could influence multiple outcomes such as economic, health, high school completion, and reductions in teen pregnancy and involvement with the justice system through a cascading series of influences.
  • To do this, they invited people to bring their expertise but not their agendas, banned jargon, and balanced “content” experts with “context” experts from the community.

Emerging Questions:

  • John Kania: “The people aren’t broken, the system is”. But if the system is broken, how do we fix it?
  • How can you identify a Keystone Outcome indicator?


Throughout the Summit, attendees are adding their collective impact questions and thoughts to a growing “learning wall.” Questions posted so far include:

Complexity = Messiness

  • Embrace the messiness of the process
  • This Summit has introduced a disturbance in my thinking.  I like it!
  • Have a belly for the big Issues
  • Deliberate Ambiguity
  • Complexity of relationships

Community Engagement

  • We are all responsible
  • Diversity and Inclusion
  • Need Diverse Perspectives – at least 50% context expertise
  • How can we create conditions of safety?
  • How to handle the power dynamic?
  • What are the competencies of the key leadership?

Define the Bull’s Eye

  • What are the tipping points?
  • What else is going on?  – Scoping is critical
  • Scoping around what you can influence
  • Problem-solving needs to be pragmatic and interdisciplinary

Catalytic Leadership

  • Inter-organizational vs. hierarchical
  • Provides catalyst vs. Taking Charge
  • Right question vs. right answer
  • Coordinated action vs. Follower efforts
  • Ownership vs. Buy-In
  • Responsibility for community outcomes vs. Responsibility for strategy and tasks


Throughout the event, attendees are sharing thoughts, questions, and photos on social meda. To see what’s being shared, follow #CISummit2014 on Twitter.

Leena Sharma ‏@Elation_State
Jay Connor: “The best disinfectant against maliciousness is visibility and conversation.” #embracedifficultconversations Jay Connor: Catalytic community leadership vs. Traditional organizational leadership:  #CISUMMIT2014

Vibrant Communities ‏@VC_Canada
A picture tells a story with Elayne Greeley – creativity in action. #CISummit2014

Trevor Sheppard ‏@trevorcarl
How I see + options I perceive = choices I make. #CISummit2014

Cindy Chatzis ‏@cindychatzis
“We just need to throw a dart at a place we can hit and it will cascade through”-Ken South Dallas #CISummit2014

Strong Roots ‏@StrongRoots_SK
Sorry to miss #cisummit2014 but glad to eavesdrop on the tweets!

leah stephenson ‏@burnerLeah
We want your expertise. We don’t want your agenda. – Jay Connor #CISummit2014

Kerry Graham ‏@kerry_change
@jcrubicon communities know what their aspiration is, CI helps them with the structures, processes & measures to get there #CISummit2014

Mattonz ‏@mattonz
Phoebe: “I have a Masters in Streetology” & “You don’t need to be perfect to do this work, there’s no perfect way to do it” #CISummit2014


If you are participating in the Summit, please share your highlights here on the Forum. We’d love to hear what’s resonating with you throughout the conference.


Snapshots from the Collective Impact Summit – Day 1

Snapshots from the Collective Impact Summit – Day 2

Snapshots from the Collective Impact Summit – Day 3


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