By Rich Harwood
Apr. 7, 2014
Irecently led a discussion in Battle Creek, Mich., with community leaders across all sectors; we were there to kick-off a local collective impact effort focused on vulnerable children and families. The leaders repeatedly described the community as "jaded" and "frustrated." The community said that there was too little trust between people to make progress that stuck, that endless turf battles inevitably cripple efforts, and that there weren't enough credible leaders and organizations to move forward. The community, they said, was tired of initiatives starting one day and fading away the next; this undermined people's confidence accomplishing anything significant. They asserted that the prevailing way of doing business was to do things to people rather than with people.
This conversation echoed hundreds of others I have had with community leaders. People everywhere are wrestling with fundamental questions about how to create change, questions that go to the heart of community life—how it functions, how to engage it, how to make progress.