Collective Impact Model
The organizing framework for the Chesapeake Foodshed Network is based on a collective impact1)read more information about Collective Impact model that maintains five guiding principles:
- Common Agenda – There must be agreement among network participants about the primary goal(s) of the effort. There does not need to be agreement on all dimensions of the issues being addressed, just about where we are heading.
- Shared Measurement – Hand-in-hand with a common agenda, there must be agreement about how progress is being measured.
- Mutually Reinforcing Activities – If the point is to coordinate and maximize impact, the activities among network organizations should be mutually reinforcing the extent possible.
- Continuous Communication – It almost goes without saying that achieving the three conditions above across a network (particularly one that spans multiple states like the CFN) requires a strong platform to support constant communication.
- Backbone Organization – What makes collective impact effective is the dedicated work of the organizations that make up the network on the issue(s) of focus. As a result, most of them do not have the spare capacity to coordinate the ‘collective impact’. A key to success in majority of situation has been the designation of a “backbone organization” that is specifically focused on facilitating this process, plus generating and managing resources to support the effort.
Collective Impact & CFN
Strengthening the regional food system in the Chesapeake Bay watershed is a major undertaking and there is already a LOT of work going on by a LOT of different organizations, agencies, companies, and individuals. The purpose of the CFN is certainly NOT to change that work, to reinvent the wheel, or to add more work to anyone’s plate; but rather to find ways to coordinate and leverage everyone’s efforts to a greater outcome. Here’s how CFN is working to achieve the principles of Collective Impact:
- Developing a Common Agenda – Many of the states and regions in the watershed have developed plans and roadmaps relating to managing and strengthening their food systems at some point. A group of CFN members are analyzing the plans and roadmaps we have found so far to find common goals and strategies in these plans as a first step towards developing a shared agenda. If you have a plan you’d like to suggest we include, email us.
- Finding Shared Measures – A Data Workgroup is conducting research into the existing data sources and metrics of progress for the indicators related to the goals and strategies found in the state and regional food plans.
- Mutually Reinforcing Activities – It is not a hard assumption to make that there are a number of mutually reinforcing activities already taking place across the watershed; and others that could be more mutually reinforcing if better communicated and coordinated. The CFN will help with this.
- Continuous Communication – If you are reading this, you are part of the early efforts to engage people who want to be part of this larger effort. This site is still in development but it will eventually provide a much more robust communication platform. The Coffee Talk Webinar Series is also a way to bring people together around specific issues and start the conversation(s) about how to make a difference.
- Backbone Organization – The huge number of organizations working on food system issues in the Chesapeake Bay watershed represent different constituencies, regions, and interests; they also have different missions, governance structure, and business models. Rather than looking to one of these organizations to try and represent all members of the network, early funding for the CFN has been secured to contract an external independent company, Local Concepts, LLC to serve as the ‘backbone organization’ for the CFN.
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