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Diabetes: Creating a Common Agenda for Collective Impact

Key Conditions of Collective Impact

The collective impact process brings diverse organizations together with a common goal of solving a social problem. All actors involved collaborate in a highly-structured manner to make a true impact on a complex issue.

The five key conditions of collective impact, as developed by the consulting group FSG are:

Alignment of diverse stakeholders around a common agenda
Shared measurement system
Continuous communication
Mutually reinforcing activities
Backbone support organization

Read more: Channeling Change: Making Collective Impact Work, Stanford Social Innovation Review, January 2012.

Continuing Minnesota’s tradition of working collaboratively to reduce the burden of diabetes in the state, the Minnesota Diabetes Steering Committee, a statewide coalition of nearly 30 organizations led by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) for almost three decades, made a bold decision in the fall of 2011 to try a new organizing approach—collective impact—to address the many complex, long-standing issues around diabetes.

senior couple walkingWhile Minnesota has great expertise in diabetes research, diabetes care, and public health approaches and it shows better rates than the nation as a whole, the percentage of adults who have diabetes in Minnesota nearly doubled in the last 20 years. A new full-system approach to address diabetes in the state was needed.

In February 2012, numerous key health care and community leaders, including leadership from Stratis Health, Mayo Clinic, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), came together to learn about the collective impact process from FSG, the consulting group that developed the model. Collective impact emphasizes a rigorous, disciplined, and multi-organizational/multi-sector effort to tackle social and health care problems in concert.

Stakeholders supported using collective impact—as an approach that spans health care providers, insurers, academic institutions, community organizations, public health agencies, diabetes program funders, and others—to address diabetes. Spurred by an initial investment from MDH to have FSG help the group begin the collective impact process, the stakeholder group has drafted a common agenda, developed a list of needs to be immediately addressed, and defined a vision for the work. With goals to decrease the number of people who develop diabetes and to improve outcomes for those with the disease, the group aims to change the picture of diabetes in Minnesota.

The first phase of the collective impact work showed that Minnesota has a wealth of experience to draw from. In the realm of quality improvement, Stratis Health and the Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement each have led multiple diabetes clinical quality improvement projects over the years, the Aligning Forces for Quality program developed the D5 diabetes measure which is now used across the country, diabetes was the first measure collected and reported by MN Community Measurement, and the Minnesota Quality Summit focused on diabetes. Within health systems, health plans, state government, providers, and the community, Minnesota has strong organizational assets and commitment to diabetes, including world-class diabetes treatment centers, and more recently, the Decade of Discovery partnership between Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota.

“There’s probably no better cluster of diabetes assets in the world as in Minnesota,” said Kyle Peterson, managing director at FSG.

Work has moved into the second phase, which includes refining the common agenda, developing a blue print for action, and identifying a group that can take on the back bone or supporting role for the group’s work, a role currently filled by FSG. For collective impact to work and change the picture of diabetes in Minnesota, the initiative is seeking additional partners and support.

“Everyone feels we have the opportunity to come together in a new way, to bring together the wealth of resources we have in this state, and truly align our work,” said Gretchen Taylor, manager of the Diabetes Prevention and Control Program, MDH.

To learn more about Minnesota’s Diabetes Collective Impact Initiative and how you can participate, contact Gretchen Taylor at the Minnesota Department of Health’s Diabetes Program.