To design our network, we used what we call the I/We/It framework, which we developed by drawing on concepts pioneered by philosopher Ken Wilber of the Integral Institute. We didn’t want this to become yet another leadership development program that focused only on helping individuals build their skills (the “I”); rather, we wanted it to be a network (the “We”) of local cross-sector civic leaders who were interested in learning new approaches and collaborating to change their community (the “It”). Additionally, our theory of change posited that real impact mostly happens on the ground, in a physical place. By connecting leaders in one city and county, helping them create shared approaches to the work, building deep trust, and expanding their ability to work across boundaries, we thought we could reach critical mass.
With this framework in mind, we also wanted to integrate several important—and relatively new—approaches to social change. To that end, we drew on everything we’d learned at Monitor and elsewhere about catalyzing and developing collaborative networks, underpinned with a focus on building trusting relationships. Additionally, we approached our understanding of the local context, and the ultimate “end game” of community change, with a systems lens—seeing the larger whole and finding leverage points for intervention.
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