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Community Investments | Spring 2014

Collective impact initiatives that have completed the initial steps of building a steering committee and establishing a common agenda need to then create an infrastructure that can successfully discover and execute strategies. There are several important considerations when determining which working groups to create, when to launch working groups, how to choose members best suited to the tasks at hand, and how working groups can succeed in their first six months.

Top Takeaways

  1. Working groups are at the heart of how high-level visioning and strategic planning turn into specific strategies and projects. A variety of working groups gather around key elements of the steering committee's broader plan and engage in a continuous process of planning and doing, grounded in constant feedback around what is or is not working.
  2. Determining the optimal working group structure is both a science and an art; it involves sensing where the energy in a system is; finding the right leaders who are passionate and able to dedicate sufficient time and energy; and finding the right number and mix of strategy and functional working groups.
  3. The first 6 months following working group formation are crucial for sustaining momentum and commitment later on; it is important that working groups use data for continuous learning, identify high-leverage strategies and quick wins, and intentionally build relationships among those who are new to working together.
Collective impact efforts can build their credibility in the early phases by strengthening relationships, demonstrating quick wins through working group activity, and building the muscle memory to tackle thornier issues down the road.