Collective Strategy: A Framework for Solving Large-Scale Social Problems

By Robert D. Lamb, PhD

Foundation for Inclusion Research Brief, Issue No. 1, January 8, 2018

About This Brief
Foundation for Inclusion (FFI) Research Briefs are intended to summarize recent and ongoing scientific research that is likely to be of interest to people working to make the world better. This first issue summarizes the foundational research FFI was built around, focusing on the conceptual innovations that inspired its collective-strategy framework: the dual-system problem, the six levels of problem-solving capability, the whole–parts–gaps framework, and the seven-questions method. Together these innovations shift the focus from solving problems to fixing problem-solving systems and make it possible to discover the most strategic path to large-scale change.

What does it take to solve really hard problems?

Chronic poverty, cycles of violence, racial and ethnic mistrust, global trafficking, tensions over migration, environmental damage—many of today’s biggest challenges seem immune to even the most heroic efforts to resolve them. In divided societies, progress has proven to be reversible, even when hundreds of organizations, thousands of people, and millions of dollars are dedicated to permanent solutions.

Are problems becoming harder, or is our ability to work together to solve them becoming weaker?

I’ve spent most of my career thinking about how societies change—especially how they fall apart or come together—and how some people manage to influence that change while others fail. This policy brief summarizes my most recent research (some of which is ongoing) and describes methods I have developed to determine what it would take to achieve large-scale change on any topic—what would need to change (by how much), who can change them (by how much), and what’s missing. It’s a good framework for judging the chances of success—or improving the odds.

The Foundation for Inclusion (FFI) is applying these methods today while continuing research that will make them even more powerful in the future. ...continue reading (pdf)

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