May 24, 2017

Recommended Reads for Transformative Scale: May 2017

I'm always on the lookout for new resources that provide insight on how to achieve impact at transformative scale. Below are a few sparks that hopefully fire new possibilities.

1. "Solving the World's Biggest Problems: Better Philanthropy through Systems Change" by Jeffrey Walker (@Walkerjc) and "Systems Change in a Polarized Country" by Mark Kramer. Systems change is an idea with great currency right now, as reported by Kramer in his conversations with foundation leaders and illuminated by Walker in his article on system leadership, both published by Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR). These ideas offer a nuanced lens for determining how to affect change at scale: shift systems. One element of systems change still needing deeper exploration is the role organizations play in systems change efforts. Organizations may play different roles in the change process—roles that we don't fully understand, yet need to. We see glimmers of these new roles in the concepts of backbone organizations, market facilitators, intermediaries, and others—but more work is needed.

2. "Three Questions that Transformed a Movement": Patrick Guerriero of Civitas (@CivitasFirm) draws from his experience in advocating for marriage equality to offer insights on how to influence the "system" of policies and social norms that reinforce and preserve the status quo. These policies and norms need to be shifted to achieve a widespread change, or the "new norm" described by Sally Osberg and Roger Martin in their book, Getting Beyond Better. Guerriero outlines three important questions that leaders of advocacy campaigns need to ask themselves in order to effectively embrace political action, galvanize targeted funding, and craft compelling messages.

3. "Making Network-based Strategy Work: A Field Guide": This Community Wealth Partners (@WeDreamForward) field guide for practitioners delves into the role organizations can play in systems change by focusing on network building. The authors note that building a network can be key to pursuing impact at scale because networks can facilitate the rapid testing, proving, and spreading of new interventions across different actors in a field. The authors highlight five actions leaders can take to build effective networks as well as four pitfalls to avoid.

4. "Using people power to promote public health": In this Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health news feature (@HarvardChanSPH), Karen Feldscher captures key takeaways from a recent lecture given by Marshall Ganz (@LeadingChangeNt), the extraordinary thought leader and community organizer with experience in the civil rights movement, California farm workers' labor movement, and numerous political campaigns, including that of President Barack Obama. In his lecture, Ganz offers five strategies for effective organizing. By building relationships, a shared purpose, and a compelling "public narrative," leaders can bring together individuals to galvanize shifts in thinking and inspire action that can enable widespread change.

5. "Repairing the Breech": This transcript captures a recent dialogue hosted by On Being's (@OnBeing) Krista Tippett (@kristatippett) between Matt Kibbe (@mkibbe), a Libertarian who helped activate the Tea Party and Heather McGhee (@hmcghee), a millennial progressive leader. Throughout their conversation, Kibbe and McGhee model how to ask questions that enhance our understanding of the good in the "other's" perspective while revealing troubling assumptions baked into our own. Given today's polarized context, there is much to learn from their explorations, through which they don't diminish their own beliefs but rather deepen their understanding and unleash new possibilities for paths forward.

You can find posts about transformative scale, including past installments of Recommended Reads, on our blog. Also be sure to check out new contributions to our SSIR X Bridgespan: Achieving Transformative Scale blog series on the SSIR website, featuring speakers from our most recent Summit on Transformative Impact cohosted by Harvard Business School. I also Tweet regularly about impact at transformative scale: @JeffBradach.

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