Create a Shared Vision

Collective community impact brings people together to discover creative, long-term solutions. They begin with establishing a common vision of success.

The purpose of Common Agenda is for “all participants to have a shared vision for change including a common understanding of the problem and a joint approach to solving it through agreed upon actions.

“Developing a shared vision is not about creating solutions at all, but about achieving a common understanding of the problem, agreeing to joint goals to address the problem, and arriving at common indicators to which the collective set of involved actors will hold themselves accountable in making progress.”1

Organizations and individuals involved must focus on and be committed to the shared mission, they must trust each other and recognize the importance of being a node, rather than a hub.2

The how-to of creating a Common Agenda requires open communication and an understanding of the complex nature of the problem. “Under these conditions of complexity, predetermined solutions rarely succeed.”1


Who Participates

Successful Collective Impacts begin with the “establishment of an oversight group, often called a steering committee or executive committee, which consists of cross-sector CEO level individuals from key organizations engaged with the issue, respected community members who “hold sway,” and representatives of the individuals touched by the issue.”3

“All network members must demonstrate their ongoing commitment to the social impact of the network rather than to their own organizational interests.”2

“Not About Us, Without Us.”

Those who are ultimately affected by the decisions must be included in the decision making process.4 “Engaging deeply with community residents… helps collaboratives clearly identify the pivotal issues and generate the needed trust to get people to attempt the change and to develop solutions.”5 Community participation is key.

“This steering committee works to create the common agenda that defines the boundaries of the effort and sets a strategic action framework.” They “meet regularly to oversee the progress of the initiative.”3

Next, working groups are formed around each of the Collective Impact’s strategies. “Vision and oversight are centralized through a steering committee, but also decentralized through multiple working groups that focus on different levers for change.”1 These working groups communicate with each other as well as directly with the steering committee.


Steps to Developing a Common Agenda

  1. Define the challenge to be addressed.
  2. Acknowledge that a collective impact approach is required.
  3. Discuss and resolve differences.
  4. Engage in peer learning.
  5. Use data and existing knowledge to arrive at a common understanding and vision.
  6. Establish clear and shared goals for change.
  7. Include only “root causes” or issues you are able to impact.
  8. Design a Clear Road Map or Strategic Action Framework.
  9. Develop short term and long term Strategies.
  10. Identify principles to guide joint work together.
  11. Create a shared vocabulary.

Two Critical Steps

  1. “Creating the boundaries (issue, root causes, geographic) of the system or issue to be addressed.”6
  2. “Developing a strategic action framework to guide the activities of the initiative.”6


helpful resources

1 Embracing Emergence: How Collective Impact Addresses Complexity

2 The Networked Nonprofit

Channeling Change: Making Collective Impact Work

The Underpinnings of Collective Impact

5 The Next Generation of Community Participation 

Putting Collective Impact into Practice: First Steps

Research has been gleaned from a number of resources, included here is a list of referenced resources on this page.

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