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Mutually Reinforcing Activities

The power of collective action comes not from the sheer number of participants or the uniformity of their efforts, but from the coordination of their differentiated activities through a mutually reinforcing plan of action.  Mutually reinforcing activities ensures that the sigificant efforts and activities of collaborators are alinged towards achieving the common agenda and shared measures.


Activities that support and coordinate action

Collective impact initiatives operate

“not by requiring that all participants do the same thing, but by encouraging each participant to undertake the specific set of activities at which it excels in a way that supports and is coordinated with the action of others” (Kania and Kramer)

Mutually reinforcing activities do not have to be developed collectively but the efforts and activities must be aligned towards achieving the common agenda and grounded on the initiative’s shared measures of success.


Types of activities

Mutually reinforcing activities can be generally configured in three ways, meaning the collective impact initiative can organize their activities to service:


Multi-problem individuals

Refers to people facing multiple issues at once, for example a homeless person suffering from mental health issues and being jobless. For these individuals, successfully addressing one need frequently entails addressing the others concurrently, and thus requires the synchronous provision of a range of complementary services.

Under this arrangement, member organizations coordinate their efforts to supply a suite of heterogeneous services capable of addressing the various needs of social service seekers.


Multi-faceted problems

Refers to problems having multiple phases, for example ensuring a child acquires a career necessitates ensuring that he or she does not drop out of the education pipeline at various stages. Tackling multi-faceted problems requires the delivery of, often similar, services at various points in time, tailored to the evolving needs and environment of the individuals.