"We cannot postpone the design of a shared vision of our planetary future. And that cannot happen without dismantling the colonial structures of our present... We cannot lose sight of the structural transformations that are required."
We cannot incrementally tweak our way into a future that is equitable and just. Transformational change is needed. One of the ways we can envision these transformations is through decolonized futures practices - ways of envisioning the future (and its relationship to the past and present) that help us let go of Western ways of knowing.
Interested in learning more? This page on decolonized futures curates a set of resources from leading practitioners, offering you an entry point into a bold new way of understanding and envisioning the future.
This short video (45 minutes) as part of MacMaster University's innovation series will introduce you to the core concepts, tools, and leading thinkers.
"If there is one thing history teaches us, it is that moments of shock are profoundly volatile. We either lose a whole lot of ground … or we win progressive victories that seemed impossible a few weeks ago. This is no time to lose our nerve. The future will be determined by whoever is willing to fight harder for the ideas they have lying around."
Naomi Klein, Canadian author, social activist, and filmmaker
This Journey Map template and instructions offer you a straight forward process of mapping from your past priorities through the COVID crisis moment to the immediate and transformed future. You'll also find strategic planning questions to guide you as you move from crisis response to transforming systems that are ripe and ready for positive disruptions.
Practical Templates for Emergent & Adaptive Work
Engaging in emergent and adaptive strategy is simply hard. It requires different tools than many of us have been trained to deploy, different ways of thinking, and different ways of engaging with others. Let's make it a little bit easier with a few editable, easy to use templates related to a few of PolicySolve's favorite processes to use in emergent settings:
Looking to better understand emergent strategy?
This four page overview the concept and practice of emergent strategy explores how multiple leading thinkers have helped us to understand emergent strategy. It is also the primer for a hands on training by PolicySolve on the "how" of emergent strategy for philanthropy.
Other Systems Change Resources
This article debunks the myths that keep philanthropy from exploring and questioning how change is really happening. Co-authored with Julia Coffman (Center for Evaluation Innovation) and Sarah Stachowiak (ORS Impact).
The story of Humanity United's transformative journey in 2020, focusing on the disruption as a moment to bounce forward rather than trying to preserve the past. The foundation found themselves rethinking their old ways of seeking to change systems and embracing the future as emergent and unpredictable. Co-authored with Rachel Reichenbach (Humanity United) and Jen Heeg.
A new articulation of what resilient philanthropic strategy looks like amid disruptions, including how to intentionally manage and distribute power, utilize the power of networks, and maintain attention to systems change. Co-authored with Clare Nolan (Engage R&D) and Peter Waring (Ridgeway Information).
An exploration, funded by the Walton Family Foundation, of what it will take to advance philanthropic evaluation related to understanding causal pathways in complex, dynamic settings, an important learning input to the work of social change agents. This exploration is the result of the work of leading methodologists and evaluators worldwide.
Advocacy is rapidly evolving for many different reasons, ranging from increasing polarization and existential threats reaching crisis points to shifts in whose voices are heard and how much advocates focus on building power. One of the seismic changes in advocacy that cuts across all of these issues, and influences governance practices more broadly, is the rate of technological advance, which is faster than ever before.
As part of a participatory study commissioned by The California Endowment, over 40 California and national narrative change leaders participated in exploring different narrative change approaches, their capacity needs, what it means to scale narrative change, and how funders can lean into the work more effectively.
A rigorous study co-authored with Sarah Stachowiak to understand when and how collective impact contributes to systems and population change.
An exploration of the complexities of backbones taking on the role of distributing funds within a collective impact initiative, including recommendations for strengthening the practice when both roles occur together. Coauthored with Kristen Breckinridge, Ashley Denault, and Chris Marvin.
A set of tools to help foundations design adaptive strategies and ideas for balancing accountability for achieving goals with adaptability throughout the course of an initiative, co-authored with Erica Snow and Tanya Beer.
An evaluation framework explores emerging ideas and methods for assessing advocacy fields and evaluating advocacy field-building initiatives.
An exploration of how to integrate strategic learning into a grant strategy, including supporting learning coaches for 14 of their grantees, co-authored with Phillip Chung, Scott Downes, and Rebecca Kahn.