The conference was focused on the Collective Impact concept work around large scale social change based on an article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review in the Winter of 2011 written by John Kania and Mark Kramer. The theme of the conference was predominantly on issues around leading a “Backbone” organization for Collective Impact.
John Kania is from FSG and lead a fascinating workshop at the conference on “Unlocking Shared Value buy Linking Business and Social Results…but more on that later, likely in another post.
Fay Hanleybrown, another Managing Director of FAG from Seattle,lead an informative session on the “tricky business” of getting diverse organizations engaged in collaborations and to agree on an effective Shared Measurement System for any Collective Impact efforts.
There was an impressive contingent from the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, mostly from the Social Prosperity Wood Buffalo initiative funded by the Suncor Foundation. Thanks to them for the great financial and skilled staffing and senior executive engagement and expertise. More on Social Prosperity Wood Buffalo in another post someday soon too.
I got a deeper clearer understanding of the context on why private enterprise ought to engage in large scale socio-economic change issues. I can see how they can help make meaningful changes in communities by collaborating on regional initiative in a cross-sectoral basis. The scale and complexity of the social problems today cannot be solved by isolated interventions of individual organizations. Governments, social profit organizations, business and the public working together around a common agenda designed to create positive progressive sustainable collective impact is a better and more effective model.
This is not about business taking over the responsibility of government. Nor is it philanthropy or Corporate Social Responsibility by another name. It is, as Fay Hanleybrown says “…(collective impact is) a fundamentally different more disciplined, and higher performing approach to achieving large-scale social impact.”
If ever there was a need for achieving large-scale positive social impact, it is in the Athabasca Oil Sands Area, especially in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, and Fort McMurray in particular. The population growth in Fort McMurray has been growing at about 7.5% compounded annually for over a decade. Housing, schools, transportation, health services, retail and social services have chronically lagged behind demand. With growth in the oil sands industry raising demands and the chronic recalcitrant response from the province in providing sufficient and timely social and physical infrastructure the goal of responsible sustainable development of the oil sands is in jeopardy.
The recent CEO level leadership of the oil sands industry has acknowledged a role for industry to engage in changing this reality by working together in these large-scale cross-sectoral socio-economic collaborations. Industry is appropriately cautious not to be put in the place of essentially substituting as a chequebook for the various roles of the three orders of government.
Governments have to do their part and meet their obligations to provide the full range of regional services and infrastructure necessary to meet the needs of the current and growing AOSA populations. If this is not done quickly and the public infastructure deficit of the AOSA is not resolved completely, it is questionable if the oil sands to be developed progressively, positively, responsibly and sustainably in a social and environmental context.
So if it is not competition as usual amongst oil sands developers in the region, nor is it industry being put in the place as a substitute for the duties and responsbilities of governments. So what does this collective impact approach look like?
That is clearly set out in the principles behind the Collective Impact movement. It is a collaborative multi-stakeholder model where all participants share a common vision of the change desired, a common understanding of the problem(s) and a joint approach to solution with mutually agreed actions. It includes a shared data and measurement system so progress can be calculated, seen and participants are held accountable. There is more, but later posts will expand on the other elements of Collective Impact.
Safe to say I saw this Collective Impact as a model and a means to bring structure and discipline top the Oil Sands CEO Council desire for oil sands industry collaboration with direct engagement with other regional stakeholders on community based socio-economic impacts of industry growth in the AOSA.
I am not expert on this process yet but I intend to become one. I will bring you along on my journey to that end through this blog and my continuing co-creative collaborative work in the region. Stay tuned.