Turning Outward for Community-Wide Change
Thursday, October 30, 2014
A visiting US Collective Impact guru tells Pro Bono Australia News why he is urging Not for Profits to de-prioritise internal benchmarks - calling for them to instead take the bold step of turning outwards to their communities.
Rich Harwood is a US Public Innovator and founder of The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation - a nonpartisan, independent Not for Profit that teaches and coaches people and organisations to tackle social problems and change how communities work together.
Supported by United Way Australia, Harwood and his team are visiting Australia to share his knowledge on Collective Impact, civic culture and community building.
In addition to meeting with community leaders in Melbourne and Adelaide, in Sydney this week Harwood has been part of a public innovators lab with 100 others. The main purpose for Harwood’s visit is the launch of a three year program with the Local Community Services Association in NSW.
Pro Bono Australia News spoke with Harwood about building civic culture, the universality of his principles for community building and the role of leadership in moving Collective Impact projects forward.
The crux of Harwood’s theory is that actors in Collective Impact or community projects should turn outward, focusing on the communities at hand rather than the benchmarks of success set within their organisations.
“The [Harwood] Institute’s put millions of dollars into research about how civic-minded organisations operate and what their frame of reference is in decisions they make,” he says.
“What we’ve consistently found in research and on the ground working in communities is that so many of us have turned inward and the point of reference is in our own programs, our own initiatives, our own organisational survival - even when we’re saying we need to engage our communities and mobilising the resources of our communities.
“I hear that consistently - that inward aspect knows no geographic boundaries.
“It was echoed here in Australia and the groups I’ve met with. We immediately turned to talk about our programs and initiatives as opposed to talking about our communities, and the type of communities we want to create for the people who live in those communities and make those communities what they are.”