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Collective impact and shared value



Collective impact is a framework to tackle deeply entrenched social problems. I am currently involved in a group that is establishing an alliance of organisations to improve the quality of life and prosperity of Australians through digital inclusion that will lead to greater social inclusion. Last month I was introduced to the thinking of by Mark R. Kramer and Marc W. Pfitzer who have recently written an article in the Harvard Business Review on shared value and collective impact.

The article suggests that the only way to overcome what can look like insurmountable barriers to solve intransigent social problems is collective action. And that means companies, NGOs and governments working together.

Kramer proposes five key elements that are necessary for success:

  1. Common agenda

  2. Shared measurement

  3. Mutually reinforcing activities

  4. Continuous communication

  5. Independent back bone support

As I have been thinking about this idea, I was considering how it applies to the work we are doing at IFLA to build a strong field and advance our agenda. Before IFLA can really start to impact on the issues that are in its sphere (access to information and global literacy in particular) we need to be in a strong position ourselves. This is the purpose of the work we will be undertaking over the next 18 months.

The first step is to build our common vision for the future of libraries. This process has already commenced with IFLA's leadership engaged in a workshop in December where we sparked our thinking of what we want the future of libraries to be. The next step is a workshop in Athens in April which will bring together all the sections and professional units and following this in May and June regional workshops involving library associations will be held. Then at the Congress in Wroclaw in August there will be more discussions and conversations. This process will continue through until August 2018 where the vision for the future of libraries that we have all developed will be shared at the Kuala Lumpur congress.

The process that IFLA is undertaking within our own sphere is a big challenge - and how much more powerful and prepared libraries will be to join with industry, governments and other like-minded organisations when we have worked through this stage to form alliances to work towards the goals of IFLA - the need for universal and equitable access to information by all people; the conviction that high-quality library services help guarantee that access; and that IFLA is truly inclusive.

A visionary and united IFLA can create long term value for society by driving access and opportunity for all through the libraries of the world.


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