In 2011, Brookings and the Rockefeller Foundation launched the Project on State and Metropolitan Innovation (PSMI), a five-year initiative to expand economic growth and opportunity in metropolitan regions. http://www.brookings.edu/research/reports/2015/07/23-expanding-growth-opportunity-carlson
What they have learned will be very familiar:
- Leaders need to be able to work across programmatic and jurisdictional boundaries to implement the new model, both strategically and organizationally, but such “galvanizing” leaders are in short supply.
- The work is long term and systemic, but funding is short term and programmatic, requiring regional leaaders to cobble together programmatic grants on a long-term basis.
- Dedicated staff is essential to the core team guiding the work, but sites are challenged to secure sustained funding for “backbone” organizations or intermediaries.
- Systems change requires a holistic approach, but moving on too many fronts can overwhelm the effort. Focusing on single projects is more feasible but reduces the potential for broader impact and transformation of systems.
- Entrenched interests and systems resist change, and many public resources are constrained by established programs.
- A natural process of entropy arises from inevitable changes in leadership, the economic and political landscape, and priorities in organizations and funders, increasing the challenge of sustaining long-term efforts.
As we continue through our process of renewal, we are addressing every one of these challenges. Are we up for it?