Csw community change work short


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How CSW's Community Initiatives Team approaches community change.

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Csw community change work short

  1. 1.     Engaging  Communities  in  Creating     Prosperous  Futures   COMMUNITY  INITIATIVES  TEAM,  JULY  2009     www.skilledwork.org                      
  2. 2.   2   Background   Corporation  for  a  Skilled  Workforce  is  the  partner  leaders  trust  most  to  help  their   communities  thrive  in  the  changing  economy.     We  help  communities  innovate  so  they  can  compete.     We  help  businesses  cultivate  talent  so  they  can  grow.     We  help  people  learn  so  they  can  find  good  jobs  –  or  create  their  own.     A  national  non-­‐profit  organization,  CSW  is  headquartered  in  Ann  Arbor,  Michigan  and   maintains  offices  in  nine  states.  Our  mission  is  to  reimagine  everything  about  work  and   learning  in  the  global  economy  for  the  prosperity  of  people,  firms,  and  communities.     We  offer  nearly  two  decades  of  experience  supporting  community  change  efforts  in  48   states  and  U.S.  territories.  We  have  partnered  with  community  and  economic   development  organizations,  educational  institutions,  industry  networks,  and  workforce   boards.  Our  work  is  supported  through  a  mix  of  state-­‐  and  community-­‐level  consulting   projects,  partnerships  with  national  associations  and  organizations,  and  foundations.   We  do  research.     We  do  policy.     And  we  engage  communities  in  the  hands-­‐on  practice  that  makes  policy  and   research  worth  doing.       Our  roots  are  in  workforce.  Our  work  is  in  communities.  Our  approach  is   multidisciplinary,  partnership-­‐based,  and  grounded  in  the  belief  that  the  wisdom  of   crowds1  can  help  communities  prosper.  With  this  in  mind,  we  work  closely  with   workforce  and  economic  development  organizations,  academia,  government,  and   community  stakeholders  to  make  change  happen.     “A  victory  small  enough  to  be  organized  is  too  small  to  be  decisive.”     Eliot  Janeway                                                                                                                       1 James Surowiecki, The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many are Smarter than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies, and Nations (Anchor Press, 2005).
  3. 3.   3     CSW’s  Community  Engagement  Work   This  document  provides  an  overview  of  CSW’s  community  engagement  approach  and   describes  specific  initiatives  we  are  advancing  to  support  entrepreneurship  in   communities  aspiring  toward  better  tomorrows.       We  do  research  that  generates  intelligence   and  insight,  not  just  data.   Community  change  efforts  often  start  with  a  hunch.  People  get  the  feeling  the   challenges  they  face  are  not  theirs  alone.  They  wonder,  “What  if  …  ?”,  and  the  desire  to   drive  change  is  born.   But  articulating  these  challenges,  and  developing  a  strategy  for  addressing  them,  can  be   humbling.  Most  of  our  community  issues  –  the  ones  that  really  matter  –  are  what  Horst   Rittel  identified  in  the  early  1960s  as  “wicked  problems.”2  While  scholars,  analysts,  even   artists  have  debated  the  definition  ever  since,  they  generally  agree3  that  wicked   problems  are:    Unstructured  –  they  cannot  be  simply  characterized,  nor  can  their  precise   causes.    Cross-­‐cutting  –  they  are  embedded  in  unique  social,  political,  geographic,   economic  and  other  contexts  that  constrain  the  actions  that  can  be  taken  to   address  them.    Relentless  –  They  can  get  better  or  worse,  but  are  never  really  “solved.”   But  these  are  exactly  the  kinds  of  problems  worth  solving.     In  our  practice,  “wicked  problems”  include:                                                                                                                   2  Horst Rittel developed and presented this idea, eventually sharing it publically in Horst W. J. Rittel and Melvin M. Webber, "Dilemmas in a General Theory of Planning," a working paper presented at the Institute of Urban and Regional Development, University of California, Berkeley, November 1972. 3 This characterization is offered by Edward Weber and Anne Khademian in “Wicked Problems, Knowledge Challenges, and Collaborative Capacity Builders in Network Settings,” (Public Administration Review, March-April 2008).
  4. 4.   4    Building  leadership  capacity  and  community  agility  to  help  “stuck”4  communities   adjust  to  economic,  industrial,  demographic,  and  social  change.    Creating  good  (and  “green”)  jobs  in  communities  whose  key  industries  are  just   emerging,  in  decline,  or  undergoing  radical,  structural  change.    Increasing  the  entrepreneurial  capacity  of  “big  company”  communities.    Helping  communities  invest  in  broad-­‐based  innovation-­‐centric,  knowledge-­‐ driven,  sustainable  futures,  one  step  at  a  time.   The  current  recession  has  exposed  many  wicked  problems  at  many  different  levels.    But   despite  its  speed,  magnitude,  and  reach,  different  communities  are  weathering  the   downturn  in  widely  divergent  ways.    Jobs  are  still  easy  to  come  by  in  Bismarck,  ND,  for   example,  where  the  unemployment  rate  is  3.5%.  The  same  is  not  true  for  the  many  job-­‐ hunters  in  El  Centro,  CA,  where  unemployment  stands  at  27%5    –  nearly  eight  times   higher.  Community  context  matters.    That’s  why  data  is  such  an  important  starting  point   for  our  work.     We  do  research  that  helps  communities  learn  about  themselves  and  the   issues  they  face.  This  means  giving  name,  shape,  and  dimension  to  their  “wicked   problems”  through  data  and  narrative.  By  collaborating  with  key  stakeholders  and   partners,  we:    Craft  data  products  using  quantitative  and  qualitative  methods  and  sources.   We  offer  labor  market  analyses,  literature  reviews,  subject-­‐specific  summaries   and  reports,  and  our  own  signature  product,  the  State  of  the  Workforce   Report.        Conduct  surveys  and/or  public  opinion  polls  in  person,  by  mail,  or  via   telephone  or  the  Internet.    Convene  focus  groups  and/or  group  interviews  in  person  or  via  telephone,   conference  call  or  virtual  meeting  (e.g.,  Web-­‐Ex).    Conduct  individual  interviews  with  stakeholders,  experts,  or  community   members  in  person  or  via  telephone  or  the  Internet  (e.g.,  Skype).   Data  is  different  from  intelligence.         Some  of  the  most  important  work  we  do  is  in  translation.  While  we  are  collecting  and   analyzing  data,  we  work  with  our  partners  and  stakeholders  to  make  meaning  out  of  it  –                                                                                                                   4 A reference to the many descriptions of “stuckness” and remedies for getting out of it, including Keith Yamashita and Sandra Spataro’s Unstuck: A Tool for Yourself, Your Team, and Your World (Portfolio Trade, 2007). 5 Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2009
  5. 5.   5   to  see  whether  it  rings  true,  to  connect  data  points  in  ways  that  generate  deeper   understanding,  and  to  elicit  context  that  begins  to  explain  the  “whys”  behind  the  data.   We  then  turn  numbers  into  meaningful  storylines  that  stakeholders  can  easily   communicate  and  their  communities  can  easily  understand.   We  engage  communities  in  connecting  and   doing,  not  just  meeting.   Wicked  problems  cannot  be  “solved”  by  single  programs  or  interventions,  but  lots  of   people  doing  lots  of  different  things  can  make  a  difference.  This  makes  community   engagement  central  to  public  policy  work  aimed  at  wicked  problems.  And  Web2.06  is   changing  the  context  for  community  engagement  in  exciting  ways.   Once,  engaging  community  meant  launching  a  (traditional)  campaign—designating  a   small  group  to  define  the  problem,  identify  solutions,  and  shape  and  market  “the   message”  so  that  others  “buy”  it.  We  used  the  metaphor  of  the  funnel  to  describe  our   practice  of  broadcasting  widely  to  identify  people  interested  in  our  cause,  recruiting   them  to  our  cause,  and  then  asking  them  for  support  (time  or  money).  Big  donors  and   champions  were  at  the  narrow  end  of  the  funnel,  close  to  our  small  group.  We  simply   shouted  at  those  further  away  in  hopes  a  few  might  hear  us  through  the  noise.     Borrowing  from  Seth  Godin,7  the  web  makes  it  possible  to  flip  the  funnel  on  its  side  and   turn  it  into  a  megaphone.  But  rather  than  just  shouting  into  the  megaphone,  we  can   share  it,  and  let  the  people  who  are  passionate  about  our  cause  recruit  their  colleagues,   friends,  and  neighbors  to  help  advance  it.   Today,  it  is  easier  than  ever  before  to  give  people  the  tools  they  need  to  drive  change   with  or  without  us.  Practically,  this  is  the  equivalent  of  turning  board  members  who   meet  once  a  month  to  make  sure  our  programs  are  performing  into  evangelists8  who   work  for  change  within  their  own  families,  workplaces,  and  neighborhoods.    This  is   community  engagement  2.0,  made  possible  by  the  increasingly  hyper-­‐connected  web.   Importantly,  community  engagement  2.0  does  not  eliminate  the  need  for  the  tools  of  its   earlier  incarnation:  we  still  need  messaging,  talking  points,  high-­‐quality  programs  and   deep  subject-­‐matter  knowledge  to  inform  them.  But  as  the  web  becomes  more   ubiquitous—and  doing  this  work  raises  the  pressure  on  communities  to  increase   broadband  access—its  tools  become  easier,  cheaper,  and  more  accessible.  Our                                                                                                                   6 We wish there were an easy way to explain the simultaneous rise of the interactive web and the social and behavioral changes that accompanied it without using this kind of jargon, and we’re open to suggestions. To us, web2.0 is about the shift from web as place to web as platform, experience, and way-of-working. See the Wikipedia entry on the origin of the term http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_2.0. 7 See “Flipping the Funnel”, http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2006/01/flipping_the_fu.html. 8 We use “evangelist” here in the way Guy Kawasaki describes in “The Art of Evangelism,” his January 2006 post on his blog, How to Change the World. See http://blog.guykawasaki.com/2006/01/the_art_of_evan.html.
  6. 6.   6   evangelists  no  longer  refer  people  to  us  one  at  a  time,  they  use  their  networks  and  the   “share  app”9  to  make  their  own  change.  As  a  result,  our  reach  and  impact  increase   geometrically  with  each  new  evangelist  to  whom  we  provide  the  appropriate  toolkit,   whether  we  know  about  these  evangelists  or  not.   CSW’s  Community  Initiatives  Team  is  helping  communities  understand   this  new  model  of  engagement,  and  begin  to  explore  it.  We  work  with  partner   organizations  and  local  stakeholders  to  help  communities:    Find  and  map  their  assets.  We  have  completed  dozens  of  asset  maps  for   communities  engaged  in  change  efforts.  While  the  scope  and  scale  vary,  we  use   similar  processes—working  with  stakeholders  to  identify  the  intended  use  of  the   asset  map,  the  kinds  of  assets  they  seek  to  map,  and  the  key  information  they   need  about  the  assets.  We  typically  collect  information  through  a  combination  of   surveys,  focus  groups,  interviews,  secondary  (and  sometime  primary)  research   and  facilitated  discussion.  Final  products  include  maps,  databases,  reports,  and   web-­‐based  tools  that  make  information  easy  to  search,  share,  and  keep  current.        Learn  about  Web2.0  and  what  it  means  for  work,  learning,  and   community  change.  In  our  Innovators  Networks10  we  are  exploring  the   impact  of  new  technologies  on  work,  learning,  and  leadership,  looking  at  social   media  and  the  implications  of  web-­‐based  microlending11  on  entrepreneurs,   families  and  communities.  In  much  of  our  project  work,  we  are  setting  up  on-­‐line   social  networks,  community  media  libraries,  and  encouraging  the  use  of  blogs   and  wikis.      Analyze  and  improve  their  community,  professional,  and  social   networks.  We  have  worked  with  many  communities  to  launch  change   initiatives,  facilitating  sessions  on  “growing  the  circle”  or  “expanding  the  table”   in  which  we  help  stakeholders  grow  their  networks.  Through  a  partnership  with   June  Holley  (www.networkweaving.com),  we  are  integrating  the  ability  to   visually  map  and  analyze  social  networks  using  technology.  Based  on  current   network  theory12  we  can  develop  strategies  for  not  just  growing  these  networks,   but  making  them  more  robust.  This  is  an  important  means  of  building  the   collaborative  capacity  of  communities  and  helping  them  become  more  agile  and   adaptable,  and  more  likely  to  prosper.                                                                                                                   9 A reference to the many tools available on a typical web-site that allow users to forward information to the peers, friends, and colleagues – ShareThis (http://www.sharethis.com/) is one example. 10 CSW has supported many professional networks over the years. Two of these –our own Innovators Networks – comprise workforce leaders from across the country and have sustained themselves for nearly a decade. 11 Microlending is the provision of small loans offered by groups of investors. See kiva.org, prosper.com, and the Wikipedia entry on microcredit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microcredit. 12 There is an emerging field of network theory that uses visualization techniques to illustrate how networks of different shapes have different levels of efficacy. See for example, Sean Safford’s work, “Why the Garden Club Couldn’t Save Youngstown” http://web.mit.edu/ipc/publications/pdf/04-002.pdf.
  7. 7.   7    Cultivate  leader-­‐evangelists.  One  of  the  most  important  assets   communities  have  is  engaged  leaders.  Typically,  these  leaders  are  asked  to   attend  meetings  and  provide  counsel  to  governing  boards,  but  rarely  to  engage   their  families,  workplaces,  and  neighborhoods  in  the  issues  these  boards  and   their  members  care  about.  The  new  role  of  policy  leader  is  to  make  such   engagement  easy,  providing  information  and  tools  passionate  community   leaders  can  use  to  change  hearts,  minds,  and  ultimately,  behaviors.  We  help   facilitate  this  shift  and  develop  toolkits  leaders  can  use  to  drive  change  wherever   they  are  –  not  just  in  the  boardroom.      Document  and  share  community  stories.  For  nearly  two  years,  we  have   been  integrating  social  media  and  documentary  methods  (video,  audio,  narrative   and  direct  communications  support),  into  our  community  change  work.  The   interdisciplinary,  multi-­‐jurisdictional,  and  cross-­‐organizational  nature  of  change   work  makes  communications  central  to  its  success.  Moreover,  because  this  kind   of  work  is  typically  over  and  above  stakeholders’  “day  jobs,”  leaders  need  to   provide  engaging  ways  for  stakeholders  to  learn  about  its  content,  meaning,  and   progress  quickly.  They  also  need  to  help  individual  stakeholders  see  how  their   efforts  connect  to  those  of  others.  Video  work  is  especially  effective  on  both   fronts.  It  also  leaves  a  trail  of  history,  context,  and  knowledge  that  can  be   analyzed,  remixed,  and  shared  over  and  over  again.13      Plan  events,  competitions,  and  other  ways  to  engage  the  public  in   community  change.  We  have  helped  communities  plan  and  implement   activities  ranging  from  formal  summits  and  forums  to  informal  video  contests.  In   addition  to  identifying  new  potential  stakeholders,  evangelists,  and  sources  of   information,  organizing  public  engagement  activities  is  an  effective  way  to   generate  new  ideas  for  solving  community  problems.      Build  shared  platforms  for  action.  We  are  experimenting  with  a  variety  of   shared  platforms,  from  project-­‐based  Flickr  and  YouTube/Vimeo  accounts  to  do-­‐ it-­‐yourself  social  networks  using  Ning  and  LinkedIn,14  to  www.wetoo.org,   launched  as  a  region-­‐based  community  of  entrepreneurs  and  entrepreneurship   support  organizations  growing  business  in  mid  Michigan,  and  more  recently   supporting  the  work  of  the  Innovation  Frontier  Arizona  project  in  Southern   Arizona.    Measure  impact.  For  some  stakeholders,  the  results  of  community  change   work  will  be  clear  and  measurable  –  the  building  of  a  tool,  a  measurable  change   in  attitudes  or  behaviors,  the  growth  of  new  businesses  and  creation  of  jobs,                                                                                                                   13 We typically work with local videographers and storytellers, forging what we hope are long-term connections between these artists and our policy stakeholders and the issues they care about. 14 Flickr is a photosharing community. YouTube and Vimeo are video-sharing communities. Ning and LinkedIn are platforms on which users can organize their own social networks.
  8. 8.   8   increased  graduation  rates.  For  others,  however,  results  may  be  less  tangible.   Using  Jim  Collins’s  “preponderance  of  evidence”  frame,15  we  help  communities   create  innovative  and  low-­‐cost  ways  to  track  and  measure  their  progress.   These  activities  are  typically  combined  and  integrated  in  different  ways  depending  upon   the  needs  of  our  community  partners.     We  treat  community  engagement  like  a   conversation,  not  an  event.     Community  engagement  processes  are  fun,  exciting,  and  inspiring.  Typically,  once   leaders  and  stakeholders  adopt  their  evangelist  roles,  they  can  hardly  wait  to  get  into   the  community  and  talk  to  people.     At  some  point,  however,  the  stories  that  families,  colleagues,  and  neighbors  initially   embrace  evolve  into  a  specific  set  of  challenges  that  need  to  be  addressed  by  actors   outside  of  the  community.  Sometimes  evangelists  recruit  more  champions  than  project   leaders  anticipate,  creating  an  unforeseen  demand  to  scale  toolkits.  And  sometimes  the   change  narrative  makes  it  possible  to  talk  about  a  more  specific  set  of  problems  than   the  original  evangelists  are  prepared  to  solve.     Communities  should  be  ready  for  these  eventualities.  CSW  can  help.     We  partner  with  communities  over  time  to  plan,  implement,  and  sustain   change  efforts.   From  concept  and  resource  development  to  the  identification  of  new  partners  and   strategic  approaches  as  project  needs  evolve,  CSW  values  the  opportunity  to  stick  with   communities,  supporting  the  kind  of  change  efforts  that  make  sense  for  them  over  time.   While  community  change  efforts  come  in  all  shapes  and  sizes,  the  best  ones  aspire  to   create  the  connective  tissue  that  helps  stakeholders  collaborate  not  once,  but  over  and   over  again,  building  their  agility  and  capacity  for  innovation,  and  increasing  the   likelihood  that  they  will  prosper.                                                                                                                               15 Jim Collins, Good to Great for the Social Sectors: A Monograph to Accompany Good to Great (HarperCollins, 2005).
  9. 9.   9   For  more  information,  contact:   Kristin  Wolff  (Portland,  OR)  at  kwolff@skilledwork.org   Rebecca  Cohen  (Ann  Arbor,  MI)  at  rcohen@skilledwork.org   Sandy  Marshall  (Ann  Arbor,  MI)  at  smarshall@skilledwork.org     John  Metcalf  (Charlotte,  NC)  at  jmetcalf@skilledwork.org     Lewis  Humphreys  (Tucson,  AZ)  at  lhumphreys@skilledwork.org     Lisa  Katz  (Rochester  Hills,  MI)  at  lkatz@skilledwork.org     Melodee  Hagensen  (Flint,  MI)  at  mhagenson@skilledwork.org     Or  contact  CSW’s  main  office  in  Ann  Arbor,  MI  at  734.769.2900.