PETER Collective Blog | 251018


You can’t choose your family.

by Andy Crowe

Andy Crowe - Strategy Team Facilitator

In my two years as a member of the PETER Collective and more recently as the facilitator of our Strategy Team Meetings I have learned something profound.

So often I feel as though there is an expectation that a particular, methodology or consultant will solve all of the issues that arise in an organisation. These ‘issues’ can be exacerbated when you add collective impact to the mix. Frustrations are multiplied when you not only have to align your personal and organisational values, but also your community’s values.

We have monthly Strategy Team Meetings and I kept getting frustrated with the progress, or lack thereof! But it wasn’t that we weren’t achieving anything, it’s that we weren’t doing it my way. I assumed my values and ideas were the right ones, how I saw the problems and challenges was the right way. Suddenly being thrust into the inner workings of truly collaborative work had me feeling like a toddler throwing a tantrum.

I then attempted to flip the constraints, cynicism and doubts that can arise from the grind of collective impact it dawned on me that this is not a new or even unique experience. We have all experienced this. Remember being a teenager and disagreeing with your parents? Essentially wrestling with the values you were raised with. Yea, collective impact is a bit like that.

For some reason, built into being and growing as a family is the expectation that things aren’t always smooth sailing. Dysfunctional families don’t know how to address concerns, share their feelings and grow from life’s curveballs. Growing and healthy families trust each not because they avoid conflict, but precisely because they have taken it head on.

You would be hard pressed to draw a straight line of ‘progress’ for the PETER Collective, but I can assure you that the trend is onwards and upwards. It is in thinking of collective impact like a family that enables me to weather the seeming moments of slow progress. We don’t measure connectedness in families by progress, we measure it through trust, honesty and acceptance of the quirks that really only we know about each other.

One of the core tenets of collective impact is developing a common agenda. It is naming and owning the values that will make Puketapapa a thriving and be a great place to positively contribute to. In order to have a rich and compelling agenda requires collaborating with some unusual suspects. Who is sitting at the table and how broad is the cross section that represents the community you’re trying to serve? It is a recipe for miscommunication, being misunderstood and getting frustrated. And it’s exactly what we need for the magic of collective impact to happen.

As the saying goes; You can’t choose your family.

Thinking of collaboration in this way has made me realise that it is in fact the team, group, family that sticks out the longest will solve the challenging issues that arise when disparate organisations attempt to work together. The PETER Collective journey has taught to focus on what matters, a thriving Puketapapa.