Connecting great practice and lessons learnt the hard way

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How do collective impact practitioners connect nationally with like minded change makers?

By taking part in a national community of practice which Opportunity Child facilitates for members of our Collective. It’s the first time specialist roles within the Collective’s backbone collaborations have connected across states in a coordinated effort to learn, share, and scale impact.

One member put it this way, “The magic of OC is that the core team does not play the role of ‘teller’ – that would stifle learning. We know we don’t know all the answers, but we use what we do know to give collaborations the leverage into the next step. This is creating authentic open learning.”

We are codifying the lessons and stories from communities across the Pathway to Scale, which is currently being tested and used in communities. Here’s a snapshot of some of the learning being shared by our partner community in WA, Connecting Community for Kids.

Building a culture of accountability

“We employed a graphic recorder to visually capture our community’s aspirations. This visual record is a daily reminder of what we are all making together and the outcomes we are striving for. In a year’s time, we can reflect back on the graphic together and be accountable to one another as we assess how we went in progressing our goals.”

Action teams are in place to align existing work and deliver early wins

“We have a strategy to stagger the delivery of priorities identified by the community to keep building on the energy and momentum. We move quickly on what we can start now, and continue to work on longer term objectives at the same time.

Parent Cafe in a box from ‘Be Strong Families’ in America was a great way to get early wins towards our goal for increased peer support. Through this low cost activity, we’re engaging and supporting the fathers in our community, and keeping the momentum for improved outcomes for kids.”

We build our knowledge of community aspirations and concerns and reflect back what we have heard

“We ran a series of workshops to identify community priorities and aspirations. Eight clear themes emerged from the community conversations. We held a community event to reflect these back to the community, and hosted a vote on which ones were most important. The community spoke, and we agreed on 5 priority areas and approaches to improved outcomes for children; peer support over service support, building connection through neighbourhoods, embrace culture, postnatal peer support, and early intervention into child health.”

Opportunity Child Pathway to scale

Checking in on the Pathway to Scale

The Pathway to Scale is Opportunity Child’s framework for how leaders collaborate to plan, monitor progress, evaluate outcomes, learn, adapt and refine, and communicate towards improved outcomes for the #1in5.

The co-created framework is being tested in partner communities now, and this is some of the feedback we have received from backbone leaders so far:

“The draft tool was very useful when first introduced to Leadership table – prompting good reflection on what has been done and where we need to focus. We have been using it among the backbone team to check where we think we are at and where me might need to focus our strategies.”

“I learned more about how the leadership feels in that [activity] more than I have in a dozen other meetings.”

“It will be a useful tool to review the current work and set targets.”

“…a great tool to assess the backbone. We ran a workshop with our Joint Leadership Team on our P2S asking them to break into groups and assess a stream each to understand where we are at and if there are any gaps or where we are exceeding expectation.”

“Love your work.”

As we continue to test the Pathway to Scale with leadership tables within the Collective, we are capturing and codifying the lessons on what works and what doesn’t in getting to improved outcomes for children.

This two pronged approach will see a new iteration of the Pathway to Scale by mid 2018, and the launch of the Pathway to Scale Interactive, an online platform to bring the lessons to life. In sharing real examples of how communities are using a place-based collective impact approach, we will be co-creating the content to tell a comprehensive story for funders, policy makers, and peer-to-peer learning.

Our Collective’s bold goal is to enable intergenerational, population-level change for vulnerable children, families and communities. We know we can’t get there alone, and the momentum gathering in shared learning is headed in the right direction for accelerating our progress and achieving scale..

The Pathway to Scale framework is creating the opportunities to learn from each other and reflect on patterns as they emerge.

“Maybe stories are just data with a soul” – Brene Brown

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About the author:

Jess Compton is Learning Manager at Opportunity Child

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