37: Collective Impact as a framework and method for sustainable and impact-driven collaboration
How to move forward
Collective Impact session
What was this session about?
The framework of Collective Impact is discussed regarding its application to the Wikimedia movement and Wikimedia organizations engaging in strategic partnerships.
What are the next steps to be taken?
This is largely to be determined. Nikki Zeuner published a blog post in the Wikimedia movement blog on the subject. Based on interest and engagement, Wikimedia organisations could also begin a conversations on their application of the concept in the partnerships and coalitions they participate in.
This session documentation was approved by the speaker.
Collective Impact has made a lot of waves in recent years as an applied research framework for understanding what makes multi-sector collaborative initiatives work or fail. We will provide a short presentation of the basics and together review the useful applications for Wikimedia organizations that want to build impact-oriented collaborations with private and public partners.
Basic understanding of the Collective Impact Framework, sharing of further resources and tools.
Wikimedia affiliates with an interest in better understanding what makes partnerships successful, and in a conversation about how the Collective Impact framework might apply to the Wikiverse.
Nikki Zeuner, Partnerships and Resources Director at WMDE, presented the concept of Collective Impact (CI) to the audience (see the presentation). As Wikimedia organisations are constantly evolving, it remains a significant challenge to have an impact on society. In order to do so, Nikki suggested that it will be crucial for the different organisations to work with partners and engage in possibly complex partnerships with multiple organizations.
CI is a theoretical framework which has been practically used by diverse communities and organizations to successfully navigate challenging partnerships, collaborate effectively and achieve lasting, systemic results. On the most basic level, the evidence base identifies five characteristics, which are crucial for the success of a collaboration:
Common Agenda: having a common understanding and a shared Vision.
Shared Measurement: collectively agreeing upon ways of measuring success, performance management, and shared accountability.
Mutually Reinforcing Activities: developing differentiated approaches and coordinating activities
Continuous Communication: communicating in an open and consistent manner in addition to building trust
Backbone Support: creating an organizational structure that allows for support by dedicated staff members and provides resources and skills to convene/coordinate participating organisations
At the end of the presentation, Nikki posed the question whether the concept of CI could be useful for the Wikimedia movement. She showed how the CI conditions can be applied to the six tough questions that resulted from the Chapters Dialogue project.
During the Q&A, one person remarked that the concept seemed to be missing aspects of leadership, as this seems necessary if you want to get things done. Nikki pointed out that the CI concept actually recognizes leadership as crucial to the five characteristics, despite not being explicitly mentioned in this overview.
Another question was posed about there being a common learning space among organisations to execute this kind of concept and how the movement could make it more efficient. To this, Nikki responded that CI has become a virtual community of practice with a blog on the FSG website, a Collective Impact Forum and many other materials, tools and experiences that are shared online. She added that the Wikimedia movement is quite new to it, but could contribute to this knowledge base from a movement perspective.
Nikki pointed out that the whole process is definitely not an easy one: it is challenging and takes time. However, the concept is important as it takes into account impact with a more long-term view. According to Nikki, this concept can be extremely useful and WMDE has begun applying some of the findings when partnering with external organisations (e.g. GLAM, or educational institutions). WMDE gets around two to three requests for cooperation per week and the CI concept is a good filter for the chapter to see if a partnership could work or not.
Lastly, a question was posed regarding the backbone structure and the role chapters would have in it. Additional questions were asked about chapters being partners and backbones at the same time and if there are distinct backbone roles defined. Nikki remarked that this is actually one of the most significant questions. It would be necessary to see if the theory also applies to the micro-level partnerships that some of the chapters that many Wikimedians are working in.
Nikki concluded by saying that small groups should take the advice from this session that they don't have to do everything on their own, but instead work together towards common goals with partners.