The Tactics of Trust

Participants in a large, complex collaboration can build a capacity for finding common ground—and it doesn’t have to take years.

Click here for the full article, The Tactics of Trust, as seen in Stanford Social Innovation Review’s Winter 2016 issue.

SSIR_Logo_2013Creating the formal structures that make up an ambitious, multi-sector change initiative is one thing. But forging the intangible interpersonal connections that result in authentic bonds among participating leaders is something quite different. Indeed, it is notoriously difficult. “Developing trust among nonprofits, corporations, and government agencies is a monumental challenge,” John Kania and Mark Kramer wrote in their landmark article “Collective Impact,” which appeared in the winter 2011 issue of Stanford Social Innovation Review. “Participants need several years of regular meetings to build up enough experience with each other to recognize and appreciate the common motivation behind their different efforts.”

But what if it didn’t have to take years? What if it is possible to accelerate the trustbuilding process that is essential to any ambitious collaboration effort? We believe that it is possible to build trust quickly—even across a network that brings together highly diverse groups of stakeholders. tactics_of_trust_imageWe don’t mean trust that’s based on liking or agreement. We mean trust for impact. Trust for impact entails the ability to cross boundaries, to find a slice of common ground, and then to work together despite significant organizational differences and sharp personal disagreements. By cultivating trust for impact, participants in a collaborative project can creatively manage their differences and form relationships that enable them to do critically important work.

We developed an accelerated approach to building trust for impact while working with the James Irvine Foundation to launch the New Leadership Network, a cross-sector network of leaders that aims to revitalize the city of Fresno, California.

Click here for the full article.

Five Steps to Building an Effective Impact Network

How network entrepreneurs can catalyze large-scale social impact through a process that applies to networks across all systems and sectors.

Click here for the full article, Five Steps to Building an Effective Impact Network, as seen in Stanford Social Innovation Review.

Impact NetworksIn The New Network Leader series, seven network entrepreneurs—leaders at the heart of some of today’s most sophisticated, large-scale solutions to the world’s social problems—have shared their accounts of catalyzing networks to create powerful social change. Although these networks take many forms, each has required consistent engagement with four network principles—trust, not control; humility, not brand; node, not hub; and mission, not organization—as well as the following fundamental process:

  • Clarify purpose.
  • Convene the right people.
  • Cultivate trust.
  • Coordinate actions.
  • Collaborate generously.

These steps don’t necessarily happen in order; leaders must reaffirm them throughout a network’s formation and evolution. Consistently engaging with this process helps ensure that the four principles get baked into impact networks as they emerge.

Here is a look at each step, with examples from the network entrepreneurs who contributed to the series.

Click here for the full article.

Network Entrepreneurs: The Most Impactful Leaders You’ve Never Heard Of

Network entrepreneurs are ensuring that systems-level, collaborative efforts not only succeed, but thrive.

Click here for the full article, The Most Impactful Leaders You’ve Never Heard Of, as seen in Stanford Social Innovation Review.

Network_Leader_Series_intro_art_196_196Collaboration has taken the social sector by storm. Collective impact, social media, and other tools play important roles, ensuring that the right structures, resources, and technologies are in place for groups to successfully work together. But while these approaches have advanced collaboration in practice, we believe that on their own, they are insufficient for achieving transformational change. In the rush toward readily available solutions to social problems, we often overlook a powerful missing link.

In our research and experience, the single most important factor behind all successful collaborations is trust-based relationships among participants. Many collaborative efforts ultimately fail to reach their full potential because they lack a strong relational foundation.

The new leaders at the heart of some of today’s most sophisticated, large-scale solutions to the world’s social problems—network entrepreneurs—are undoubtedly some of the most accomplished leaders that you’ve never heard of, and they are ensuring that systems-level, collaborative efforts not only succeed, but thrive.

Click here for the full article.