That’s a wrap 2017!

Before the last days of 2017 end, we wanted to take the time to reflect on the highlights of the year, what we’ve learned, and share our insights to take forward into 2018.

This year has seen the work of CFI grow from strength to strength.  From our beginnings as a small start up community of practice four years ago to establishing under a consulting model two years ago, we now emerge as a registered not for profit with a social purpose.  We are Australia’s leading organisation for enabling people to tackle big, tough problems and create large-scale change through collaboration.  Our role is to develop people and collaborations to drive the kind of change that no one sector, organisation, program or person could achieve on their own.

What do we believe?

In the work we do, we are always working with leaders and communities to ask themselves – ‘what’s the problem you’re trying to address’? and in exploring that question to understand ‘what’s being called for’?

In asking these questions of ourselves, we believe the problem we are addressing is the wide-spread prevalence of ineffective responses to complex challenges we are facing as a nation.  The types of challenges include intergenerational disadvantage, childhood vulnerability, youth unemployment, poverty and crime. The causes of the challenges are multi-faceted and interconnected, and yet they are responded to by single policies, organisations or programs with predetermined solutions which are insufficient to address the complexity we face.

In working to stay nimble and learn from the initiatives we are engaged with, we believe that what is being called for is disruption to this way of working by building the capacity in organisations and communities to think and work systemically through effective collaboration.

What do we do?

Our work and network of highly skilled associates has grown exponentially this year.  We now have fifteen associates working with us around the country providing collaboration design, adaptive leadership, impact measurement, community engagement support and capacity building to communities.

We are embedded in five systems change initiatives. Most of these are place based, whilst others are focussing on key issues, seeking whole of system responses and change, such as illicit drugs and community cohesion.

  • Beyond the Bell
  • Maranguka (Bourke)
  • Paul Ramsay Foundation (Illicit Drugs Adaptive Co-design Initiative)
  • Queensland Youth Justice
  • Wentworthville Early Childhood Development Initiative

We have 15 learning partners around the country.  These are organisations or government departments where Collaboration for Impact (CFI) is the key learning provider for the initiative, providing strategic advice, capacity building and technical assistance on all aspects of building collaboration for systems change with monthly engagements.

  • Alcohol & Drug Foundation
  • Barang Regional Alliance
  • Burnie Works
  • DHHS Victoria Children & Youth Area Partnership
  • Dubbo Children and Prison Program
  • Empowered Communities
  • Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal
  • Hands up Mallee (Mildura)
  • Mental Health Commission of NSW
  • North West Melbourne Primary Health Network
  • Ready Set Go (Newcastle)
  • Resilience Initiative
  • Stronger Families Alliance
  • West Moreton Mental Health Collective Impact Project

CFI also provided collaboration and systems change capacity building or knowledge to 28 initiatives who engaged us episodically to support their capacity.

In addition, we designed and convened seven national learning events this year ranging from adaptive leadership to innovation in community engagement reaching just over 500 people.

“Many thanks for the privilege of being part of the Adaptive Leadership Masterclass.   It was probably the best learning session I have been to – ever – and with over 20 years of educational leadership I have been to many. The Masterclass gave me and my co-collaborators a new lens through which to understand leading and working in complexity. Along with my Co-Chair we immediately applied the theory to our collaborative work, facilitating the Local Area Group’s next meeting using our AL understanding, which resulted in a more collaborative response and commitment to the work.”

Mike Holland, Chair – South West Local Learning and Employment Network

“I cannot thank you enough for creating a learning environment which gives access to both the CFI network and others working in the CI space as a platform for learning together. I have never attended a conference that provided such a valuable experience and gave such confidence and hope returning to our own work and our future.”

Conference Delegate, CFI National Conference July 2017

What have we learnt?

Through our work, we have a metaview of the trends, challenges and opportunities facing communities in Australia tackling complex change.  These are just a few of our observations from 2017:

We are seeing that people agree they need to …

  • move from fragmented to coordinated responses
  • share data with each other
  • stop being experts and start being learners together
  • have a greater risk appetite for innovation.

… as long as it doesn’t impact on them personally, or their organisation’s brand, strategy or business model.

We see increasing agreement that collaboration is required and an emerging willingness to invest in the capacity building required to collaborate and lead on challenges that we don’t have answers to.  However, there is still much more work to be done.

So, we look ahead to 2018 with exciting plans for making our learnings, tools and resources more widely available to initiatives across Australia and globally.  As a network we rely heavily on building strong relationships and partnerships with organisations offering different but complementary skills in complexity.

We take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank the communities and organisations we work with, our amazing staff and network of associates, our key learning partners and strategic partners and all the people who have attended our learning events.  We learn from and are inspired by your commitment to learning to bring about change and look forward to working with you all next year.  None of us can do this alone.

Have a great Xmas break and all the best for the New Year.

Liz Skelton & Kerry Graham
Collaboration for Impact Directors





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