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Stanford Social Innovation Review | January 2013

As described in “Collective Impact,” complex social problems cannot be solved by a single organization. The rules of interaction in a collective impact process put participants on a journey of embracing collective vigilance, learning, and action. Through this journey, exciting new solutions to complex problems emerge. This article appeared on

Top Takeaways

  1. Since the process and results of collective impact are emergent rather than predetermined, unforeseen opportunities present new solutions. This happens in three ways. 
    1. A previously unnoticed practice, movement, or resource from outside the community is identified and applied locally.
    2. Local individuals or organizations begin to work together differently than before, and they find and adopt new solutions.
    3. A successful strategy that is already working locally is identified and spread more widely.
  2. Developmental evaluation provides on-going feedback for decision making by uncovering newly changing relationships and conditions that affect potential solutions.
Leaders of successful collective impact initiatives have embraced a new way of seeing, learning, and doing that marries emergent solutions with intentional outcomes.

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