Over the past few months, I’ve been working with two separate collective impact efforts to think through a critical question: what human capital is needed to lead backbone structures to drive collective impact forward?
Creating and managing collective impact requires a separate organization with staff and a specific set of skills to serve as the backbone for the entire initiative and coordinate participating organizations and agencies (for more thinking on backbone structures, see: Searching for the Right Backbone Structure
, Funders & Backbones: A messy, yet powerful relationship
, and Collective Impact 2.0
In the education space, these human capital conversations are nothing new—we’re used to talking about attracting and retaining pipelines of talent for teachers, leaders, and superintendents. But in the collective impact arena, this conversation is less common, and a number of efforts are grappling with how to find that right dynamic leader and how to structure their role appropriately. Based on some recent client work, I’d point to three key success factors for backbone leaders: