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Rapid City Collective Impact: A City-Wide Effort to Create Quality of Life for All Its Citizens



In Rapid City, South Dakota, community, business, nonprofit, and faith communities leaders, along with a number of citizens across all demographics, are collaborating in a unique plan to create quality of life for all its citizens. Named Rapid City Collective Impact (RCCI), this initiative began with the vision of several local philanthropists and has expanded quickly throughout the community. Cultural anthropologist Albert Linderman along with expertise from community based systems dynamics experts Don Greer, Megan Odenthal, and Christine Capra have formed a facilitative “backbone” organization for RCCI. Based on the model for “Collective Impact” made popular by an article by a Stanford Innovation Review article by authors John Kania and Mark Kramer, organizations and programs serving Rapid City citizens are committed to significantly increasing the amount of collaboration occurring within the social service sector, while business and other community leaders work to leverage newly understood leverage points within the intersecting systems of the city which often limits ability to address entrenched social issues.
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Rapid City Collective Impact: A City-Wide Eort
to Create Quality of Life for All Its Citizens
Albert Linderman
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Albert Linderman, PhD
In Rapid City, South Dakota, community, business, nonprofit, and faith communities leaders, along with
a number of citizens across all demographics, are collaborating in a unique plan to create quality of life
for all its citizens. Named Rapid City Collective Impact (RCCI), this initiative began with the vision of
several local philanthropists and has expanded quickly throughout the community. Cultural
anthropologist Albert Linderman along with expertise from community based systems dynamics experts
Don Greer, Megan Odenthal, and Christine Capra have formed a facilitative “backbone” organization
for RCCI. Based on the model for “Collective Impact” made popular by an article by a Stanford
Innovation Review article by authors John Kania and Mark Kramer, organizations and programs serving
Rapid City citizens are committed to significantly increasing the amount of collaboration occurring
within the social service sector, while business and other community leaders work to leverage newly
understood leverage points within the intersecting systems of the city which often limits ability to
address entrenched social issues.
Collective Impact, def.: a highly structured collaborative effort designed to achieve
substantial impact on a large-scale social problem
Keywords: Collective Impact, systems dynamics, sense-making, collaboration
Copyright: ©2016 Linderman. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms
of the Creative Commons Noncommercial Attribution license (CC BY-NC 4.0), which allows for
unrestricted noncommercial use, distribution, and adaptation, provided that the original author and
source are credited.
During the summer of 2015 a group of philanthropists met and determined that they
desired to improve life and living in Rapid City for all citizens. They set out on a path
to pursue this desire. Brent Phillips, CEO of Regional Health, the largest employer in
Rapid City, contacted me to visit the city and meet with the group. Over the course
of the summer we met twice in Rapid City, communicated remotely, and co-created a
Collective Impact approach encapsulated in the following statement:
Linderman: Rapid City Collective Impact
Produced by University of Minnesota Libraries Publishing, 2016
With its arts, history, cultural activities, and great natural beauty, Rapid City
is a dynamic city. However, significant issues plague the city. Large-scale
social change comes from better cross-sector coordination rather than from
the isolated intervention of individual organizations. Collective Impact will
catalyze and harness the talent, skill, and perspective of grass roots citizens,
businesses, nonprofits, government, and faith communities creating
collaborative ways to make Rapid City a model 21st century city.
Once the group chose me to lead the effort, I relocated. Rapid City, situated in the
Black Hills of Western South Dakota, with a population of 73,000, is an employment
and cultural center for the six surrounding counties. There is much to tell about the
fascinating first year of this comprehensive initiative, including the formation of an
Emerging Leaders group with 50 Fellows; creation of a dynamic network map of all
service provider programs, viewable from more than a dozen perspectives; creation of
systems maps, models, and simulations; and listening intently and deeply to citizens’
experiences with the service sector. Before getting into the specifics, here is some
discussion of Collective Impact.
Some concepts are so simple you wonder why they weren’t conceived previously. Such
is the concept of Collective Impact. Coined by John Kania and Mark Kramer in an
article in Stanford Innovation Review (Kania & Kramer, 2011), this concept has
seismically expanded throughout the world in a variety of sectors, most notably in
education and health care. In the seminal article, Kania and Kramer assert that
substantially better progress could be made in alleviating many of our most serious
and complex social problems (p. 38) regarding housing, jobs, education, hunger,
family services, health, and the like when nonprofits, businesses, healthcare,
philanthropy, governments, and the public put service to the community first and
collaborate to create Collective Impact. Many funders and nonprofits overlook the
Interdisciplinary Journal of Partnership Studies, Vol. 3 [2016], Iss. 2, Art. 5
potential for Collective Impact because they are used to focusing on independent
action or isolated impact, with its inherent turf protection and potential failure to do
what’s best for the community, as the primary vehicle for social change.
Kania and Kramer note that both in the United States and in other countries,
initiatives engaging cross-sector collaboration generally do not fare well. They
present three stories of collaborations that have been working well: Cincinnati,
Somerville, Massachusetts, and Elizabeth River in southeastern Virginia. Regarding
Cincinnati’s efforts to improve education, more than 300 leaders cooperated in
achieving some of the finest education success in the United States during 2009-2012
(Kania & Kramer, p. 36).
The authors present what they call three pre-conditions and five conditions for
success in Collective Impact, conditions that they assert are not found in most
initiatives of this type but that are common to the three studies they review.
The three pre-conditions for a collective impact initiative
1. Influential Champion(s) the most critical element
2. Adequate Financial Resources (to last 2-3 years; generally an anchor funder is
3. Urgency for Change
Rapid City Collective Impact (RCCI) has these pre-conditions. The philanthropists
behind the initiative all are influential champions in the community. Financial
resources are solid. The desire for change is strong across the city.
The five conditions for collective impact
1. Common Agenda - All participants have a shared vision for change, including a
common understanding of the problem and a joint approach to solving it
through agreed-upon actions.
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2. Shared Measurement - Collecting data and measuring results consistently across
all participants ensures that efforts remain aligned and participants hold each
other accountable.
3. Mutually Reinforcing Activities - Participant activities must be differentiated
while still being coordinated through a mutually reinforcing plan of action.
4. Continuous Communication - Consistent and open communication is needed
across the many players to build trust, assure mutual objectives, and create
common motivation.
5. Backbone Support - Creating and managing Collective Impact requires a
separate organization(s) with staff and a specific set of skills to serve as the
backbone for the entire initiative and to coordinate participating organizations
and agencies.
Hanleybrown, Kania, & Kramer (2012, p. 1)
Rapid City’s funders, recognizing that they needed platforms with diverse players and
different approaches to tackle community issues, began the process as conveners,
champions, and matchmakers, connecting people, ideas, and resources and providing
financial support for RCCI. Thus began the initiative with an intention to catalyze
networks and engage the community instead of investing in discrete programs and
individual organizations.
The Rapid City philanthropy group understands that they are fundamentally seeking to
influence how citizens, service providers, business, government, and faith
communities view their connection to the community. They wish to foster a “this is
my community and I am contributing to it in an important way” attitude in every
citizen, from the CEO of a large organization to those stuck in generational poverty.
As John Ligtenberg, Executive Director of Love, Inc., and one of the executive
directors (EDs) I interviewed during Phase 1 of the initiative, states it this way,:
Interdisciplinary Journal of Partnership Studies, Vol. 3 [2016], Iss. 2, Art. 5
There is no greater tragedy than to be an amazing human being with tremendous
potential and abilities and no opportunity to contribute.
In the process of the initiative the funders intend eventually to impact poverty,
employment, education, housing, healthcare, food insecurity, and substance abuse,
while facilitating a collaborative model that will become intrinsic to what it means to
live in the city. Accomplishing this will fulfill the initiative’s stated vision of
“improving life and living in Rapid City.” The intention is in full recognition of human
self-interest. It flows from a belief that at the heart of most people there is interest
in the common wealth of the city, that improving life in the city will take a collective
effort in which individuals and organizations give time, energy, money, and skills, and
that by giving to the community, each citizen receives back the benefits of a high-
functioning city that is working well for all.
The Rapid City group recognizes that historically funders and nonprofits generally
overlook the potential for Collective Impact because they are used to focusing on
independent action as the primary vehicle for social change. The nonprofit sector
commonly operates with isolated impact that approaches finding a solution embodied
within a single organization, combined with the hope that the most effective
organizations will grow or replicate to extend their impact more widely. Funders
historically search for more effective interventions as if there were a cure for
community health that only needs to be discovered, in the way that medical cures are
discovered in laboratories. As a result of this process, nearly 1.4 million nonprofits try
to invent independent solutions to major social problems, often working at odds with
each other and exponentially increasing the perceived resources required to make
meaningful progress” (Kania & Kramer (2011, p. 38).
We conceptualized 3 phases. See Figure 1. Phase 1 involved researching and mapping
all the service programs in the city. Phase 2 learned about the systems that underlie
Rapid City’s landscape and their interconnections, chose areas of focus for Phase III’s
Linderman: Rapid City Collective Impact
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implementation and action, and created goals and strategy for each area of focus.
Phase 3 begins the creation of initiatives addressing systemic problems. Throughout
the Phases, network weaving is taking place.
Figure 1: Phases of RCCI
Phase 1. Launching & Laying
Phase 2. Building Vision,
Priorities & Backbone
Phase 3. Improving Services,
Weaving Network
Key Activities:
Engage nonprofit sector,
community leaders, faith
communities, and
residents to understand
the landscape of our
common wealth.
Discover local wisdom,
insight and vision
Leadership Fellows:
Cultivate emerging
Cross-sector linkages,
Network weaving:
mapping and
Build backbone
Key Activities:
Build platform for
improving nonprofit
Catalyze and increase
collaboration across
organizations, sectors
Articulate Shared Change
Community based
systems dynamics
mapping and modeling of
city’s interconnected
Works streams
addressing key areas
identified in 3 day
Key Activities:
Align strategies and
engagement across
organizations, sectors
into Mutually Reinforcing
Catalyze additional
networks and
Deepen community
education, engagement
Establish Shared
Measurement System
Interdisciplinary Journal of Partnership Studies, Vol. 3 [2016], Iss. 2, Art. 5
Phase 1. Launching & Laying
Phase 2. Building Vision,
Priorities & Backbone
Phase 3. Improving Services,
Weaving Network
Increase understanding,
visibility of initiative
Increased social capital,
insight for
implementation of
emerging vision, agenda
Articulated Shared
Change Agenda for
Collective Impact
Increased social,
political capital, and
Infrastructure and
Backbone Organization
established, capacity
Increased capacity for
Improved services,
Performance monitored,
insights shared
Increased social,
political capital and
insight for implementing
priorities, vision
Sept 2015 March 2016
April 2016 Nov 2016
December 2016+
Phase 1: RCCI
After agreeing on a plan of action for the first year of learning, the funders jointly
sent a letter to all government program leaders, nonprofit EDs, and faith community
leaders asking each to meet with me for a 75-minute individual face-to-face
interview. The letter acknowledged that service programs provide essential services
to the community and that their health and efficiency are important. The interviews,
they were told, were the first part of learning, mapping, and evaluating the service
provider landscape while at the same time providing them information about RCCI,
creating the environment for them to collaborate as partners in the work of improving
the city. Given the significant leverage represented by the philanthropy partners
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sponsoring this first year of research, there was excellent participation; after meeting
with more than 80 of the aforementioned leaders, I found broad understanding and
support for the vision of the initiative. Part of this is due to the fact that, within
certain sectors of service provider community (mental health, juvenile justice,
poverty), some strong collaborations are active.
During this first 7 months (Phase I in Figure 1) a number of activities occurred to
create momentum and lay the groundwork for RCCI: interviewing leaders, creating
allies of active service organizations, forming guiding groups, forming a cadre of
emerging leaders, and sharing widely. The Mayor, Steve Allender, asked a pertinent
question early in the process that gets to the heart of this first phase as well as a
guiding principle of the initiative as a whole: “Can we effectively harness the talent
and skill of our citizens, businesses, nonprofits, governments, and faith communities?
If so, we can significantly improve the quality of life for all citizens of Rapid City.”
Three groups formed during phase I
Early in Phase I, the philanthropy group and I agreed that additional support for the
multi-faceted nature of RCCI needed to be created. Of the original philanthropists,
two were chosen to be part of a Guiding Council.
Philanthropy Group: This group serves as the high level Board. It works to catalyze
philanthropic leadership across Rapid City. It seeks to increase investment in the
common wealth and the priorities of the Collective Impact initiative.
Sandy Diegel, Executive Director of John T. Vucurevich Foundation
Chair, Brent Phillips, President and CEO of Regional Health
Ray Hillenbrand, Businessman
Jim Scull, Businessman
Guiding Council: RCCI’s Guiding Council provides cross-sector, cross-system guidance
and insight to position the initiative for success. Not a decision-making body or a
fiduciary, its primary purpose is as a steward to guide, connect, and influence.
Interdisciplinary Journal of Partnership Studies, Vol. 3 [2016], Iss. 2, Art. 5
Mayor Steve Allender, Rapid City
Sandy Diegel, Executive Director of John T. Vucurevich Foundation
Liz Hamburg, Executive Director of Black Hills Community Foundation
Lloyd LaCroix, Community Leader
Chair, Albert Linderman, Director of Rapid City Collective Impact
Brent Phillips, President and CEO of Regional Health
Tiffany Smith, Senior Director of Community Relations at Regional Health
Melissa Bloomberg, Executive Assistant to RCCI Director
Mapping Work Group: RCCI’s Mapping Work Group helps stakeholders, leaders, and
strategists visualize and understand the social, economic, and political landscape in
Rapid City through innovative approaches to data collection and data visualization.
Christine Capra of GreaterThanTheSum was hired to create a first of its kind network
map of a city’s social service programs (a link to this map can be found at RCCI’s Using Kumu’s state-of-the-art mapping capabilities
(see, the network of all service providers and their connections with one
another within sectors (mental health, education, housing, and the like) and
population groups (i.e., elderly, children, mothers, and so on) has been completed.
The mapping work group oversaw and edited the map’s structure. They then helped
design the systems mapping project (see Phase II below that created maps and models
in preparation of running simulations that will provide Rapid City with the best way to
improve government and service providers efficiencies and strategies.
Chair Albert Linderman, Ph.D., Director of Rapid City Collective Impact
Harriet Brings, Central High School faculty and Lakota Elder
Barry Tice, Director of Pennington County HHS
Karrie Miller, Associate to Barry Tice
Malcom Chapman, Bush Fellow
Whitney Rencounter, Rural America Initiatives
Heidi Bell-Gease, Helpline 211 Director
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Barb Garcia, Manager of Rapid City Development
John Ligtenberg, Executive Director of Love, Inc
Danita Simons, Community Outreach Coordinator for United Way of the Black
Emerging leadership fellows (cadre)
The Emerging Leadership Fellows cultivate and inspire vision and engagement in the
initiative and its projects, actively seeking to bring community voice to decision
making. By connecting people, organizations, and insights, and by developing their
own leadership capital, the Fellows elevate the collective function of the systems
engaged and increase the resources needed to address the priorities of the initiative.
The 50 Fellows, generally between the ages of 25 and 45, come from all walks of life,
including 4 lawyers, 3 police officers, 2 teachers, 4 business owners, 4 EDs of
nonprofits, 3 government workers, and several middle managers from a variety of
settings. Several of the Fellows are Native American. The Fellows are funded for 18
months by a capacity-building grant from the John T. Vucurevich Foundation; they
serve approximately 5 hours per month, conducting community-based focus groups,
engaging in learning activities to support RCCI, and expanding their networks. They
receive training in Collective Impact, systems thinking, and Sense-Making
One of the early supporters of Collective Impact was the Chamber of Commerce,
which provided opportunity for their business members to be aware of RCCI and to
encourage individuals in their organizations to apply for Fellowships.
Listening to citizen’s experiences using Sense- Making
From the outset, RCCI determined to engage with a diverse, representative cross-
section of community members, listening to their experiences and bringing their
Sense-Making Interview comes from Brenda Dervin’s Sense-Making Methodology and is
capitalized when referring to it as a method. The lower case sense-making is used to indicate the
activity of a human agent.
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voices to the table. Ultimately, this initiative is about the current and future needs of
the community. Some of the needs are greater than those being pursued by service
providers, and these must be identified and understood to move forward. The Fellows
received training in Sense-Making Interviewing (Dervin, 2010; Dervin, Foreman-
Wernet, & Lauterbach, 2003; Linderman, Baker, & Bosacker, 2011; Linderman, Disch,
& Pesut, 2015), conducted citizen focus groups, and interviewed groups and
individuals seeking to understand how citizens navigate the service provider network.
Insights from these interviews, combined with a network analysis, provided clarity in
showing gaps in service, areas where service can be improved, and opportunities for
collaborations where none exists. One example of a response to a need that has
already occurred due to this move toward RCCI: This past year (2015) was the first in
more than a dozen that the Rapid City JayCees did not provide a Toys for Tots
campaign. With 25% of the population at or below the poverty line, this was a loss for
many local kids and families who had come to rely on the program for Christmas
presents. Currently, due to the efforts of Bush Foundation Fellow Malcom Chapman, a
network weaver
who is part of RCCI, service organizations such as Kiwanis and Elks
have agreed to collaborate on the Toys for Tots campaign for 2016, a collaboration
that is unusual among these kinds of organizations.
Sense-Making has been chosen as the process for conducting focus groups and
individual interviews due to its facility in getting at individuals lived experience in a
way that surfaces insights often not accessible through other interviewing means.
Dervin, discussing the nature of knowledge, notes that, “all knowledge is inherently
fallible and must be humbled to the time and place and procedurings of its
origins”(2010, p. 995).The individual’s ongoing knowledge construction is triggered
from states of discontinuity, when one feels the need to get answers to the questions
currently faced, and occurs because “reality is neither complete nor constant but
filled with fundamental and pervasive gaps”(Dervin, Foreman-Wernet, & Lauterbach,
Network weaving is a term coined by June Holley, describing the act of deliberately connecting
others in an effort to strengthen social ties. A network weaver is one who “takes responsibility
for making networks healthier; do so by connecting people, coordinating self-organized projects,
facilitating networks, and being a network guardian” (Krebs & Holley, p. 8).
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2003, p. 254). Accessing this “knowledge construction in the moment” requires a
process that allows an individual to re-live as much as possible her or his experiences
while providing probes to access and surface the sense-making experienced in the
gaps, allowing multiple perspectives, mental models, and beliefs to become explicit.
Dervin and colleagues have developed protocols for Sense-making interviews and
focus groups, which I’ve adapted for the work in Rapid City.
Besides the insights gleaned from these focus groups and interviews, the process of
the Fellows engaging in the community as representatives of RCCI is building a sense
of grass roots ownership in the initiative. Significant energy is generated and able to
be harnessed. Citizens are able to sign up for ongoing updates of RCCI, and some of
their comments are included on the initiative’s website.
In my work of over 20 years using Sense-Making I have found several benefits in its use
with focus groups.
Mental models from stakeholders are presented in a way that is understood by
themselves and others.
It provides equity in use of time for all
It creates a mood of respect and honoring of others’ views; people feel heard
It allows for quicker alignment; best ways to proceed are clearer.
Those tempted to control conversations are freed from feeling compelled to do
The Washington Post (2015) reported on a study that has been ongoing since 1968 that
shows 4 in 5 Americans at one point in life in need of assistance from service provider
programs. Many people who currently need services will end up volunteering, working
for, or contributing to nonprofits at another time in their lives. These individuals
carry with them not only the heart, but the intelligence and drive they will use in
their contributions. We are discovering unexpected insight from our focus groups and
interviews. One focus group with six local judges revealed a shared frustration each
had with the state bar association, a revelation they had not shared with each other
Interdisciplinary Journal of Partnership Studies, Vol. 3 [2016], Iss. 2, Art. 5
previously and one that likely would not have surfaced otherwise. Steps are underway
to correct the problem.
Collective impact and phases 2 and 3 of RCCI
Recent Collective Impact research shows that beyond the five conditions needed,
three additional focal points are critical (Senge, Hamilton, & Kania, 2015).
1) Recognize that spontaneous connections between groups emerge slowly, or not
at all (Krebs & Holley, 2002). Network weavers are needed. These individuals
intentionally and informally create new interactions between groups and sectors,
building the connective tissue for collaborative work.
2) Understand the process and set initial conditionsthe time, trust, and
relationshipsthat go into creating Collective Impact.
3) Look for collective intelligence to emerge through a disciplined stakeholder
and community engagement process. The nature of this intelligence is unpredictable,
but is crucial both for community ownership of the vision and insight into the systemic
barriers that need attention.
These additional learnings from Collective Impact initiatives over the past few years
inform our work in Rapid City. We are intentionally supporting the efforts of the
natural network weavers in the city, while developing new weavers who can be
mentored by the existing ones. We are informing the community about this important
work. We continue to create and build the relationships and trust that will be needed
in the coming years as RCCI moves into Phase 3 and beyond. Currently we are in Phase
2, which includes attention to creating and developing systems maps and models for
the city.
Jay Forrester, the founder of the system dynamics approach to systems thinking that
we are using, speaks of the “counterintuitive behavior” that complex non-linear
systems exhibit. He illustrates this by citing the large number of government
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interventions that go awry through aiming at short-term improvement in measurable
problem symptoms but ultimately worsening the underlying problemslike increased
urban policing that leads to short-term reductions in crime rates but does nothing to
alter the sources of embedded poverty and worsens long-term incarceration rates
(Forrester, 1975). Another systems thinking pioneer, Russell Ackoff, characterized
wisdom as the ability to distinguish the short-term from the long-term effects of an
intervention (Ackoff, 1989). The question is, How does the wisdom to transcend
pressures for low-leverage symptomatic interventions arise in practice? (Senge et al.,
2015; Forrester, 1975). RCCI recognizes this challenge and is taking the extended time
to better understand the city’s systems in order to make more effective long-term
decisions. We are following the maxim that to go fast you first have to go slow.
Currently we are engaged in a process of mapping the interconnected systems of
Rapid City. At the end of a ground breaking 3 day workshop in late May 2016 with
more than 90 civic, business, nonprofit, faith, and government leaders, and a number
of citizens, we created work streams to address closed loops
within the systems.
Over a series of iterative sessions, sector-knowledgeable stakeholders are co-creating
maps and models of the sector under the direction of our two facilitators. We are
creating systems maps of a number of sectors and their intersections and intend to
run simulations for some. By doing this, the community can recognize the
interconnections between sectors. The modelers expertise comes into play at this
point. There are only a few expert systems modelers in the world who have worked on
community-based systems. This field is new, though growing rapidly.
Concurrently, the Emerging Leaders Fellowship is engaged with community members
around a vision for Rapid City 2025. A vision statement with strategies to address
Rapid City’s basic issues will be collaboratively crafted at the end of Phase 2 and will
serve as a guide for Phase 3 and beyond. Phase 3 will attend to:
Closed loop diagrams, created by the community under the directions of the systems dynamics
facilitators allow for users to see the interconnections between variables in a given systems.
These diagrams are central to the work of community based systems dynamics, the approach of
our two facilitators. See page 16 for more on these facilitators.
Interdisciplinary Journal of Partnership Studies, Vol. 3 [2016], Iss. 2, Art. 5
improving services by weaving the network
long-term strategic planning
aligning strategies into mutually reinforcing activities
catalyzing additional networks and collaboration
deepening community education and engagement
establishing a shared measurement system
engaging business leadership
While nonprofit leaders, philanthropic foundations, and even governments have
rallied around the Collective Impact model, most corporations in other initiatives
generally are not involved in these efforts. That can and should change. Corporations
can play an important role in catalyzing Collective Impact efforts to address systemic
social challenges that have an impact on their business. Nico Pronk of HealthPartners
has developed a compelling business case for engaging businesses in Collective Impact
efforts. Working with 50 leaders, including many CEOs, from Fortune 200 companies,
the group identified the business case for investment in community health, and has
created a website for business and communities to work together (Pronk, Baase,
Noyce, & Stevens (2015).
Corporations can play a substantial role in sharing human resources and/or lending
their expertise in certain issue areas, as well as contributing to the overall strategic
direction of an effort. Many companies are wrestling with how to adjust their business
model to engage more effectively at the community level. Corporations need to have
a better understanding of where social issues overlap with business needs and to what
extent they are able to drive impact. For some needs, a company may be able to
address business and social outcomes through proprietary products and services. But
for many other complex social challenges that may be related to business objectives
for example, community health problems caused by increased sedentary behavior it
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will be difficult for a company to create impact alone. This is where opportunities
exist for companies to take the bold step of catalyzing cross-sector initiatives, driving
social and business impact.
Our approach in Rapid City is to engage with business leaders during Phases 1 and 2,
communicating with transparency what we are doing and why. Our expectation is that
as systems maps, models, and simulations begin to reveal better strategic directions
for achieving more efficiencies and suggest ways to better leverage the community’s
resources to improve life in the city, businesses will gladly contribute to the efforts.
Early indications are that this is the case. Several business leaders contributed to the
May workshop. We expect as well that businesses will appreciate any efforts to
improve the city and coordinate resources, including their own.
From reading broadly about other Collective Impact initiatives I have gleaned the
following principles we are incorporating into RCCI:
1. Collective Impact efforts
are most effective when they build from
what already
exists, honoring current efforts and engaging established organizations.
2. Collective Impact is not a straightforward process. One does not simply put the
five conditions in place and follow a step-by-step process to achieve it. While each of
the conditions is important, every Collective Impact initiative is unique in how these
conditions are implemented.
3. Collective Impact is as much about the relationships and trust among the
people and organizations involved as it is about the conditions. It is ultimately about
enabling adaptive, collective problem solving, working from the often quoted maxim
that progress proceeds at the speed of trust.
4. The backbone organization currently consists of myself; assistant Melissa
Bloomberg; overseer Jonathan Bucki; mapper Christine Capra; advisors Michelle
Heerey, Stephen C. Bosacker, and Dan Pesut; and systems dynamics experts Don
Interdisciplinary Journal of Partnership Studies, Vol. 3 [2016], Iss. 2, Art. 5
Greer and Megan Odenthal. We play facilitative, servant-leader rolesguiding the
decisions of the collaborative, based on the expertise and input of a cross-sector
steering committee and input from a broad range of partners and community
members. We:
provide overall
strategic direction
facilitate dialogue between partners
manage data collection and analysis
handle communications
coordinate community outreach
obilize funding
We believe measurements are crucial. We are gathering copious amounts of both
quantitative and qualitative data,. all of which are helping us understand the what,
how, and why of the various initiatives that are undertaken in Phase 4 and beyond.
We are almost one year on our journey. We’ve come a long way and set a strong
foundation for RCCI. Our experiences thus far support the plan we established and the
ongoing involvement of individuals from every sector of our community.
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Albert Linderman PhD is a cultural anthropologist and CEO of Sagis Corporation. His work with Sagis
Corporation includes Collective Impact and major leadership and organizational transitions. For
communities desiring common vision and collaboration Linderman provides expertise in establishing,
nurturing, managing, and sustaining Collective Impact initiatives, with Sagis often serving as backbone
Interdisciplinary Journal of Partnership Studies, Vol. 3 [2016], Iss. 2, Art. 5
for the collaboration. Linderman is the author of the epistemology text, Why the World Around You
Isn't as it Appears (SteinerBooks 2012).
Correspondence about this article should be addressed to Albert Linderman PhD at
Linderman: Rapid City Collective Impact
Produced by University of Minnesota Libraries Publishing, 2016
... history of mistrust between Native Americans (about 25% of the population) and non-Natives. The remarkable movement in the city is occurring through the work of hundreds of citizens and a vision, a shared narrative, and joint action growing out of Rapid City Collective Impact (RCCI), an initiative that began in 2015 (Linderman, 2016). During its first two foundation-building years, RCCI's backbone team used a combination of system dynamics and collective impactwhat we are terming systemic collective impact. ...
... This involves overcoming some turf protection issues, but when organizations agree that it is more efficient and effective in addressing social issues, they usually rise to the occasion for the betterment of the community. grassroots citizens, and a backbone organization who share the common goal of improving quality of life in Rapid City, particularly for those who struggle to make it" (Linderman, 2016). Specific initiatives were expected to emerge in Phase 3. ...
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Cross-sector and inter-disciplinary coordination for complex social change requires the strategic narratives and insights that can come from systemic collective impact, also known as community-based system dynamics. Systemic collective impact is a community engagement approach that uses system dynamics and collective impact to address problems arising in complex social systems. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s website describes system dynamics as helping “us understand, design, and manage change. Using data and technology, System Dynamics models the relationships between all the parts of a system and how those relationships influence the behavior of the system over time” (2019). Rapid City, South Dakota, undertook a systemic collective impact approach in 2015. Results from the work have been excellent and are a tribute to the commitment of a cross-disciplinary collaboration of Native American leadership, nonprofits, government, business, faith communities, and citizens who use the social service systems.
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Experienced nurse leaders possess leadership wisdom that must be passed on in thoughtful, systematic ways to younger leaders. Sense making is an intentional process that has been useful in bringing forward a leader's implicit knowledge and wisdom gained over the years. This article examines leadership wisdom, complexity, and knowledge in the context of today's dynamic environment-and offers a concrete example of how the sense-making methodology can work. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Many corporations experience significant loss of intellectual capital and organizational memory due to the retirement of key leaders and experts. Human resource leaders can help their organizations by conserving this knowledge, which could allow for continued competitive advantage. But doing so requires a means of both surfacing this knowledge, much of which lies tacit within the experts, and transferring it to others within the organization. The authors have designed and implemented a knowledge retention and transfer process that accomplishes these goals. Illustrated from two projects, the article explains the interview portion of the process that the authors have used with more than 20 clients over the past 3years. Adapted from Brenda Dervin's sense-making methodology, the authors offer this systematic and repeatable solution for the elicitation of intellectual capital.
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Communities are built on connections. Better connections usually provide better opportunities. But, what are better connections, and how do they lead to more effective and productive communities? How do we build connected communities that create, and take advantage of, opportunities in their region or marketplace? How does success emerge from the complex interactions within communities? This paper investigates building sustainable communities through improving their connectivity – internally and externally – using network ties to create economic opportunities. Improved connectivity is created through an iterative process of knowing the network and knitting the network. Know the Net Improved connectivity starts with a map – knowing the complex human system you are embedded in. The Appalachian Center for Economic Networks [ACEnet], a regional economic development organization in Athens, Ohio has long followed the connectivity mantra – create effective networks for individual, group and regional growth and vitality. Recently ACEnet has begun to map and measure the social and economic connections it helped create in the grassroots food industry in Southeast Ohio. ACEnet, founded in 1985, provides a wide range of assistance to food, wood and technology entrepreneurs in 29 counties of Appalachian Ohio. This region has some of the highest poverty and unemployment rates in the country, and ACEnet works with communities throughout the region who want to improve their support for entrepreneurs as a means to provide more local ownership and higher quality jobs.
Community Based System Dynamics introduces researchers and practitioners to the design and application of participatory systems modeling with diverse communities. The book bridges community- based participatory research methods and rigorous computational modeling approaches to understanding communities as complex systems. It emphasizes the importance of community involvement both to understand the underlying system and to aid in implementation. Comprehensive in its scope, the volume includes topics that span the entire process of participatory systems modeling, from the initial engagement and conceptualization of community issues to model building, analysis, and project evaluation. Community Based System Dynamics is a highly valuable resource for anyone interested in helping to advance social justice using system dynamics, community involvement, and group model building, and helping to make communities a better place. © 2014 Springer Science+Business Media New York. All rights reserved.
The principal aim of this project was to learn from corporate executives about the most important components of a business case for employer leadership in improving community health. We used dialogue sessions to gain insight into this issue. The strongest elements included metrics and measurement, return on investment, communications, shared values, shared vision, shared definitions, and leadership. Important barriers included lack of understanding, lack of clear strategy, complexity of the problem, trust, lack of resources and leadership, policies and regulations, and leadership philosophy. Substantial variability was observed in the degree of understanding of the relationship between corporate health and community health. The business case for intentional and strategic corporate investment in community health occurs along a continuum has a set of clearly defined elements that address why investment may make sense, but also asks questions about the "what-to-do" and the "how-to-do-it."