Collaborative Social Change: Designing for Impact in a Networked World

Posted by on July 14, 2008

I am pleased to announce the launch of Interaction Institute for Social Change’s newest skill-building offering: Collaborative Social Change: Designing for Impact in a Networked World which will be offered in September at our learning centers in two locations:

* San Francisco, California: September 16-18, 2008
* Cambridge, Massachusetts: September 23-25, 2008

Before I say more about it, let me set the context for you.

Story after story has been coming our way here at IISC illustrating the exciting ways in which new collaborative tools and technologies are allowing social change agents “to do old things in new ways and new things that we never dreamed possible.” These tools – along with network-centric ways of thinking and acting – are heightening awareness of the potential and need for collaboration in our complex and changing world. All of this comes as our understanding of the adaptive nature of social and environmental problems deepens, as our world continues to flatten and shrink, and as the very rates of change accelerate. As Clay Shirky writes in Here Comes Everyone, “We are living in the middle of a remarkable increase in our ability to share, to cooperate with one another, and to take collective action…Most of the barriers to group action have collapsed and without those barriers we are free to explore new ways of gathering together and getting things done.”

With this potential comes some anxiety and uncertainty. When everything seems possible, where and how do we begin? What are the right tools to use and in which situations? IISC’s challenge has been to figure out how to combine our deep experience in collaborative methodology, our understanding of network theory, and that growing potential of the power of Web 2.0 into our large-scale, multi-stakeholder consulting practice. In our experience, the tools for collaboration – whether we’re talking about Web 2.0 or person-to-person interactions – aid us in developing truly innovative and broadly embraced strategies. These strategies, when grounded in “the love that does justice” and new thinking, will result in much greater social impact.

And that’s what brings us to the launch of our newest offering: Collaborative Social Change: Designing for Impact in a Networked World. CSC – as we are calling it – offers you the opportunity to explore the implications of working in a world where barriers have collapsed and where people have extraordinary potential to connect in new ways. You will develop the skills to design collaborative multistakeholder processes and build networks for social change including:

* IISC’s Collaborative Change Framework and its applications.

* The fundamentals of network theory as applied to networks for social change and the potential power of network mapping.

* The power of thoughtful design to cultivate and nurture networks for social change and an array of collaborative process design skills including building relationships in support of networks for social change, stakeholder analysis and engagement strategies, planning frameworks and change methods, process mapping, technical tools to support collaboration, and roles to support each phase of the change process.

* An awareness of the impact of your deepest aspirations, sense of purpose, and sources of power and motivation on your work.

We’re becoming increasingly and acutely aware that the global challenges we face call for something more than the focused and passionate efforts of individuals or single organizations. We must develop our capacity to collaborate and build networks in order to have the broad-based and sustained impact called for by these challenging times. That’s why IISC is especially pleased to be able to offer this fall two public workshop opportunities to experience Collaborative Social Change:

* September 16-18, 2008 in San Francisco, California
* September 23-25, 2008 in Cambridge, Massachusetts

This learning experience will be most powerful if you come with a project in mind – one you’re currently working on or one you’re considering launching. And to maximize your capacity to put the learning into action, we encourage you to come with a colleague.

Our nonprofit rate for the three-day workshop is $650; the foundation rate is $1,000. For more information, or to register for the workshop, visit us at or call Chris Toppin at 617.234.2750. We hope you will consider joining us.

And as always, we are interested in hearing about your successes, challenges, and thoughts on the front lines of collaboration for social change. Wishing you a restorative summer…


Marianne Hughes
Executive Director

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