I’m beginning a series of short postings about how cities decide things and how leaders can help their communities make smarter decisions. I’m calling these brief essays “Rules for Reformers.” They come from conversations over the years with civic leaders and may help if you’re stuck on a community problem or obstacle. And, yes, that name may sound familiar . . .
The five core skills of leadership, I’ve come to learn from studying how change happens in communities, are relationship building, learning, strategy, facilitation, and persuasion. In that sequence.
To start a community change process, focus on the need. Once people are convinced the need is important, urgent, and solvable, create a guiding coalition to find the solution.
How does a group know when it has found the right solution? Setting out its criteria early on helps. So does “market testing” of its ideas.
What leaders need is a theory of change simple enough to fit on a single sheet of paper but which fully explains how complicated and diverse communities make up their minds to do something different . . . and get it done. Here it is.