Phase 2. Building the Foundations

Welcome to Building the Foundations! This phase of the Collaborative Change Cycle
is about becoming more open to working together, building a shared understanding of the system, brokering agreement that business as usual is not enough to make large scale impact, and partnering with community as the foundation for change.

building foundations

At the 'Building the Foundations for Change' phase

When you reach the Building the Foundations for Change phase, you’ll have started to get moving by agreeing to work together and engaging in trial and error. While you will not yet have a roadmap or formal plan, you are starting to build a shared understanding of the challenge or system. For example, different groups or sectors could be: getting clearer on the issue and testing hypotheses as to why it is happening and the impact of it; mapping the system, including what is already happening to address the issue and what is working; and, trying strategies to test their hypothesis and learn more about the system. This work may be facilitated by a ‘backbone’ entity (interim or more permanent) or by a coalition of community members and stakeholders.  Their work is focused on building the ‘container for change’ – which means strengthening trust, designing experiences for people to learn from different perspectives and experiences, and building capacity for people to work constructively with conflict. At this phase, it is important that there are ways to involve different stakeholders in the identification of ‘quick wins’ or ‘trial and error’ projects, as well as learning from them. There should be a focus on supporting and learning from trial and error.

How do you know you are at the ‘Building the Foundations for Change’ phase?

Some of the things you may see happening in your community include... 

  1. While trust remains low, a small group of people are actively building the ‘container’ for change while the status quo remains in place.  
  2. People and organisations are becoming more open to working together and determining who they trust to take action.
  3. Champions from different parts of the community are calling for a new way of working and are working together to actively grow a narrative of hope and agency, built on a shared understanding of the system.  
  4. There is agreement that business as usual is not enough to make large scale impact, and a belief that collaborative capacity and systems thinking needs to be fostered and strengthened. 
  5. Leaders may have greater confidence that they have the capacity to create change, rather than looking to others. 
  6. A diverse range of influencers are exploring a shared vision for change and what working together over the long term to achieve lasting change would look like.
  7. Formal leaders are starting to value community as experts in experience of how things work and what needs to change.
  8. Community conversations are underway with diverse voices from multiple sectors discussing what is needed for a collaborative response. 
  9. Diverse community members and stakeholders are able to work together to keep attention on the need for change and create and maintain a sense of urgency.  
  10. A ‘backbone’ entity emerges, if not already in place, and begins to take up the community engagement and convening role.  

  • CHANGE | Building the Foundations: Leadership


    Building Leadership in this phase will involve convene existing, new and emerging leaders to explore common interests and goals and how they might work differently together, developing awareness of relationships and power, and building the authorising environment.

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  • CHANGE | Building the Foundations: Collaboration


    Building Collaboration in this phase will involve working together on early wins to achieve outcomes together and develop mutual trust, developing principles for working together, and finding ways to share resources that support continued collaboration.

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  • CHANGE | Building the Foundations: Community


    Building Community in this phase will involve facilitating conversations that generate insight into the lived experience of community members, and communicating effectively to engage the broader community to join the conversation and emerging community leadership structure.

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  • CHANGE | Building the Foundations: Measurement


    Building Measurement in this phase will involve developing principles about how partners and community will measure and learn, capturing stories about what is happening and building the case for change based on evidence and learning.

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  • CHANGE | Building the Foundations: Innovation


    Building Innovation in this phase will involve surfacing assumptions about systems, lives, solutions that enable change, and building mindsets and skillsets to work from a systems approach and avoid getting caught in a desire for perfection.

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  • Leadership
  • Collaboration
  • Community
  • Measurement
  • Innovation
2. Building the Foundations | Government

Role of Government

For some, ‘Building the Foundations for Change’ can be an exciting time. A group is emerging that is committed to change. There is a real sense of urgency and activity is underway with partners mapping the system and starting to work on testing hypotheses. For others, it may feel messy or chaotic as there is often not a clear plan. 

2. Building the Foundations | Philantropy

Role of Philantropy

To support the building of foundations for change, the most effective things philanthropy can do is take up roles that enable collaboration and fund the costs of collaboration. Building Collaboration from the Inside Out is a great read on how to do this.



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