August 28, 2014
We had an energy-filled meeting on August 28, 2014. Twenty-four people, including representatives from various sectors (government, education, business, non-profit, faith-based, health) and concerned parents, grandparents, and youth mentors gathered to begin dialogue about the complex issue of raising children in a tech-saturated world. The meeting began with a welcome from one of our community partners, who had offered their Community Learning Center for this meeting. There was also a brief overview of our purpose and meeting agenda.
Participants each received a handout that gave a brief overview about how collective impact is different from typical ways of doing cross-organizational work. Even when collaborating, organizations usually start with their entity’s goals, programs, and initiatives and seek to find others who can help make them more successful. As part of this explanation, participants were encouraged to actively seek to build relationships with each other before and after our meetings to help them do their work, and they were also invited to be deliberate and focused during our meetings toward building a shared sense of purpose and vision. (See p. 6 of Building Capacity for Collective Impact Toolkit: Partner Mapping for the source image for this handout.)Participants were also able to get a broad sense for the long-term collective impact process. Often in more typical business and non-profit settings, efforts begin with solutions in mind and work toward implementing and improving them. The collective community impact process is about creating space and time for more dialogue. This deliberate-yet-dynamic approach allows for multiple cross-sector players (sometimes including those who might be otherwise competing with each other) to come together with a clear and committed sense of shared purpose. This collaborative process facilitates a synergy for addressing complex community issues and, over time, driving sustainable cultural change. (Table below is adapted from articles such as this how-to guide and this Stanford Social Innovation Review article.)
The bulk of the meeting time was spent facilitating dialogue about the issue at hand. Participants were each invited to write down their thoughts on opportunities/positives/hopes and obstacles/pitfalls/concerns around the issue of raising children in a tech-saturated world. Each person was then able to briefly share what they wrote and why that particular opportunity or challenge was on their minds. In under an hour, the group was able to create the beginnings of a shared issue map. This activity allowed everyone in the room to start to sense the patterns in their collective thoughts, consider nuances that added to their insights, get the perspectives of people from different sectors, and feel the energy of so many concerned people focused together on beginning the process of creating common understanding about the complexity of this issue.
(See this post for more input gathered from people in Utah County and from a student council of 6th-8th graders after the August meeting.)
In the last few minutes of the meeting, people shared some of the thoughts they had as they engaged in this issue mapping activity.
After the meeting, participants were given electronic replications of the issue map that allow them to move each virtual sticky note around so that they can begin clustering ideas. People will then be able to come to the next meeting prepared to discuss more about the issue. Next steps will also include sharing the outputs of the meeting with others who were not able to attend and meeting with youth and engaging them in a similar issue mapping conversation.
If you were present at the meeting, what were your thoughts about the issue mapping activity? What did you like about it? What do you think could have made the meeting more effective? What questions do you have?
If you weren’t present, what would you have added to both sides of the issue map? Why? What insights and impressions do you have as you look at the various ideas that were shared?