Embracing Emergence: Collective Impact Addresses Complexity

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Summary: Complex social problems cannot be solved by a single organization or by a simple recipe. This article from FSG, originally published by Stanford Social Innovation Review, explores how the rules of interaction defined in a collective impact process put participants on a journey embracing collective vigilance, learning, and action. Through this collective journey, exciting new solutions to complex problems emerge.

Collective Impact efforts are upending conventional wisdom about the manner in which we achieve social progress.

By John Kania and Mark Kramer

Organizations around the world have begun seeing collective impact as a new and more effective process for social change. They have grasped the difference our past articles emphasized between the isolated impact of working for change through a single organization versus a highly structured cross-sector coalition. Yet, even as practitioners work toward the five conditions of collective impact we described earlier, many participants are becoming frustrated in their efforts to move the needle on their chosen issues.

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