The Responsible Business Summit NY 2020

We’ve been taking from the environmental future for the economic present and we’re now on the cusp of a decade of consequences. A climate emergency, global social inequalities, biodiversity loss and increased investor and consumer pressure for business to act. Business needs to step up ambitions to tackle and adapt to the changing climate.

We need action. New ways of collaborating. New business models. New forms of investments.

But just how do you go about designing for this level of ambitious change? At The Responsible Business Summit New York 2020 we will convene 750+ CEOs, Chief Sustainability Officers, ESG investors and leading NGOs from across the globe to share their latest strategies, and more importantly, tangible insights into how they are helping deliver the required transformation of business. How they’re delivering a sustainable economy. This is the only forum bringing together senior brand leaders in an intimate setting for two days of honest, frank and open discussion on how to deliver the required change.

Will this be the terrible 20s or the transformative 20s? That’s up to you. Lead the decade of action, starting at the Responsible Business Summit New York 2020


The time for simply finding new tech tools has passed. At this collaborative conference, you’ll learn from and analyze ideas and models that have evidence of success. But that doesn’t mean every model will work for you. At EdSurge Fusion, you will work with educators across the country to ask the hard questions and walk away with next steps.

EdSurge works every day to tell the stories of what works. At EdSurge Fusion, we’ll bring those stories to light. Hear from educators and researchers sharing research-informed and evidence-based models and practices that really work.

EdSurge Fusion will focus on what’s working in these areas:

How are educators changing practice to teach to the whole learner?

How are advances in neuroscience and learning sciences helping us better understand the complex needs of our students?

What tools, resources and practices support the successful implementation of social-emotional learning and whole learner tenets?

How are schools and districts evaluating their technology integration based on evidence and research?


How are schools using technology to “redefine” (using the SAMR model) what learning looks like?

How do schools and districts plan for emerging technology?


What skills or competencies will future careers require?

How are educators preparing students with skills and knowledge to be continuous learners?

How is technology influencing, changing and creating alternatives to traditional postsecondary pathways?


Are innovations in technology enhancing or lessening opportunity gaps for disadvantaged students?

How can technology provide more equitable access to education?

How can technology create educational alternatives to traditional education for students and communities in need?


Harvest Summit 2019


Get out of your comfort zone.
Connect. Challenge. Collaborate. Create
the future of possible.

Together, through the cross-pollination of inspiring ideas and a continuous exchange of transferable insights WE can spark the innovation that may change the world.

Harvest Summit is a full day of
Real Conversations. Rich Discovery. Innovation Sparked.



Dirt under your feet. Fresh air. Fresh perspective.

Unexpected Pairings. Unscripted conversations. New collaborations.


Say goodbye to the stuffy ballroom, monologues, PPT presentations, passive learning and rubber chicken lunches.

Say hello to a unique and exclusive location, engaging dialogues, interactive collaborations and immediate business impact enhanced by a world class culinary and entertainment experience.


300 leaders outstanding in their fields.

Get out of your industry silo. Collaborate with a diverse set of leaders in technology, media, entertainment, food, wine and agriculture. Expect magic.


Join us. It’s in conversations, napkin doodles, shared experiences and the clink of glasses where magic happens – ideas hatched, relationships formed, innovation sparked.


The Harvest Summit is by invitation only. Please use the link below to request an invitation or make a nomination. All registrations are non-transferable.

2019 Harvest Summit fees will be announced shortly. Non-profit, Start-up/Founder and Academic discounts are available on a limited basis upon request.

Opportunity Collaboration

What To Expect

All-inclusive 5 nights lodging & meals, full access to leadership programs, capacity building clinics, working discussion groups, agenda roles, organizational showcasing opportunities, pre- and post-event networking concierge services, transportation to and from Cancun International  Airport (CUN), internet fees, onsite recreation and resort fees. Airfare is not included.

The entire purpose of the Opportunity Collaboration is to connect you with new people and new ideas. Come prepared to share best practices, illuminate partnership opportunities or reveal a current passion or innovative idea. Engage your fellow Delegates with your mission.

2019 SheEO Summit

Calling all SheEO Activators IN!

We invite you to join us for our inaugural SheEO Australian Summit. The Summit is an amazing day of inspiration, community and collaboration. It’s your chance to meet and support your first cohort of SheEO Australian Ventures (announced LIVE in the morning!), connect with Activators from across the country, and co-create the future you want to see in the world.

In the evening we will transition into the SheEO Cocktail - two hours of uninterrupted networking for you to build your network, meet your next business partner, and celebrate the impact we’ve created together through radical generosity.

Date: Monday, 1 April 2019

Time: 9:00 am-7:30 pm

Location: Hilton Sydney Hotel - 488 George Street, Sydney, NSW, 2000, Australia

Art of Convening Core Training

The Art of Convening (AoC) teaches the art and science of designing and leading meeting and conversations that are inspirational, productive and transformative. Each training focuses on your unique purpose with the goal of sharing it on behalf of others.

Unleash your team’s EQ with the power of convening: learn how the skills of inner game of being a convener can shift the culture of your team, department or organization to full-on commitment.
Each step of the way is a journey into personal and professional learning and application of the technology of relationships.

Convene Great Virtual Meetings

14 years ago we pioneered the virtual Art of Convening Training. Way back before Skype or Zoom. We have learned a thing or two.
We've learned that virtual meetings don't have to be a waste of time. In fact, they can be more valuable than face to face meetings. They are an inexpensive way to get people together: no travel costs and readily available technology.

Unleash your team’s EQ with the power of convening: learn how the skills of inner game of being a convener can shift the culture of your team, department or organization to full-on commitment. Each step of the way is a journey into personal and professional learning and application of the technology of relationships.
We'd love to work with you. Please join us!



The frank gathering is a pipeline for creating new strategies and talent that drive social change. Communications professionals, academics, researchers, artists, philanthropists, business leaders and advocates – they come together to connect evidence to action for on-the-ground impact. People arrive hungry for solutions, become humbled by the challenge and leave empowered to make big change.

Our theme this year is curiosity, an essential ingredient for empathy, drawing attention and driving change.

How to Make Complex Collaborations Work


Something Tom Atlee recently wrote sums up for us what’s happening on the planet right now. “Things are getting better and better, and worse and worse, faster and faster, in bigger and bigger ways.”

We live in a world of problems that are so complex — so tangled up with other problems, so non-linear, ambiguous, and volatile — that they defy solutions and cannot be effectively addressed by any one organization or even by any one sector. Problems like reducing poverty and homelessness, providing high quality universal healthcare and education, and slowing climate change and environmental degradation. Problems like terrorism, racism, sexism, social inequality, political instability, refugees, drug abuse, and child abuse.

What then do we do to address complex, systems-level problems? To really address the root causes of today’s major challenges — rather than just manage the symptoms?

We believe that lasting change and the resolution of these systemic issues is going to require effective collaboration across silos, across organizations, and across sectors, in ways that serve both the self-interests of the participants and the shared interests of the collective.

Unfortunately, making this kind of collaboration work well is notoriously hard, particularly between organizations. As Joycelyn Elders, the first African American to serve as the US Surgeon General, said:

“Collaboration is an unnatural act between unconsenting adults.”

There are so many new models and terms flying around for describing collaborative efforts — like Collective Impact, Aligned Action, Social Impact Networks, multi-stakeholder partnerships and more — that it’s hard to know sometimes what people are really talking about.

In our view, however, all of these are different forms of complex collaboration. Whatever you call it or however you go about it, collaboration is about making “we” work. And making “we” work ultimately comes down to building smart, collaborative relationships that endure, evolve, and function effectively over the long haul, in ways that serve both the self-interests of the participants involved, and the shared-interests of the collective.

Networks are a particularly effective and versatile framework for thinking about complex collaboration. If you really want to dive into network theory , Connecting to Change the World, by Peter Plastrik, Madeleine Taylor and John Cleveland is a great place to start. The ENGAGEwebsite produced by Monitor Institute and The Rockefeller Foundation is also a good resource.

But while the WHY and the WHAT of complex collaborations often differ, we’ve found that the HOW is remarkably consistent, regardless of your preferred model or what you choose to call them.

The effectiveness of any network or collaborative effort primarily depends on constantly managing a few basic activities:

  1. Clarify Purpose
  2. Convene the Right People
  3. Cultivate Trust
  4. Coordinate Existing Actions
  5. Collaborate at the Systems Level

These five activities are not strictly linear – they loop back and forth on each other, and you must constantly revisit all five of them throughout any collaborative effort.

Let’s begin by looking at how these five activities provide a framework for making complex collaborations work. We’ll do that by stepping through each of them, using the Santa Cruz Mountains Stewardship Network (SCMSN) as an example. Then we’ll look at how these same principles can be used to cultivate collaboration not only between organizations, but within organizations as well. Finally, we’ll discuss the unique form of leadership that is needed to successfully facilitate and advance a complex collaboration.

  1. Clarify Purpose 

The first step in launching any collaboration is making sure you know why a collaborative effort is needed. The problem you’re trying to address may evolve over time. But to get people in the room to begin the process, you need a clear initial statement of what the problem is that you want them to address.

Design thinking teaches us that formulating purpose as a question prompts our brains to stay flexible and helps a collaboration maintain a focus on emergent strategy and refine its purpose over time. The typical approach we use to helping a group define their purpose is to ask them to complete the question: “How do we…?”

The SCMSN formed because people across the system had begun to realize that to care for the natural and human systems throughout their entire region was going to require a collaborative approach. They knew, furthermore, that the Santa Cruz Mountains region as a social system was fragmented, with historical tensions and significant mistrust.

Therefore, the effort began with a simple, aspirational statement of the SCMSN’s purpose, which is “to help cultivate a resilient, vibrant region where human and natural systems thrive for generations to come.” After seven months of working together, this purpose statement became a more elaborate Memorandum of Understanding, which was ratified by the network’s members in October 2015.

  1. Convene the Right People

Convene the right people means bringing people together who collectively can tackle the problem you’re trying to address.

Like your purpose statement, the people who need to be involved in a collaboration will evolve over time. But it’s critical from the start to bring together a broad selection of people who represent different parts of the system you’re trying to change. As our colleague David Haskell of Dreams InDeed would say, involve and include “the other”.

The “right people” are definitely those who represent the whole system and have the ability to get things done, particularly leaders of their organizations. But they’re also simply the people who show up and stay engaged.SCMSN members

In the SCMSN, members own or manage about half the protected and working lands in the region’s total area of 500,000 acres, and the people who participate in convenings are leaders of their organizations. Network members represent federal agencies, state and county parks departments, land trusts, nonprofit organizations, private landowners including the region’s largest timber company, research institutes, and community and tribal groups.

  1. Cultivate Trust

Trust has become a buzzword. We all know it’s important, but very few treat it as what it really is: the single most important ingredient of successful collaboration.

Cultivating trust is where most collaborative efforts fall short, and why most do not live up to their full potential. For collaboration to really work and achieve the systemic change we all know is necessary, enduring relationships are not a nice to have – they are a need to have.

We commonly confuse trust with “liking” or “agreement.” But in collaborative settings, participants don’t need to like each other – and they absolutely shouldn’t agree with each other on every issue. When we talk about trust we mean trust for action—what we call trust for impact. This is the kind of trust that can hold the tension through difficult conversations, engage in generative conflict, find a slice of common ground, and make collaboration a reality, and not just an aspiration.

The common wisdom is that it takes a long time to build trust. We respectfully disagree. As long as you go about it deliberately, building trust for impact does not have to take a long time. To build trust requires that we see more than the attributes that make up someone’s external context—what they say or do, their title and organization, their gender and skin color. SCMSN map, March '15To build deep trust and understand other people in an authentic way, we need to get to know their internal context—their values, motivations, what gets them up every day, the things that have made them who they are.

For a practical look at what it means to build trust, here is a network analysis we conducted just before the first convening of the SCMSN in March 2015. Each circle, or “node,” is a leader in the network. The colors indicate the different types of organizations they represent, and each of the lines connecting the nodes signifies a meaningful connection between two members. As you can see, the region was pretty fragmented, particularly in the lack of connections between different types of organizations.SCMSN map, September '15

After only two convenings – during which we gave people a lot of time to build genuine relationships so we could go fast later – you can see that the system is much more interconnected.

This connectivity is the invisible structure that makes complex collaborations work. Even if the network never met again, the system is much more resilient than it was before, because there are deeper relationships, increased frequency of communication, and greater collaboration between organizations.

  1. Coordinate Existing Actions

Once trust is established, people are more likely to notice, seek out, and follow through on opportunities to partner with other members of the collaboration. SCMSN conveningTherefore, the next step in cultivating an effective collaboration is to identify the work that participants are already doing to address the problem that has brought everyone together, and to connect the dots and coordinate these activities. In this way, members can collaborate around common goals, avoid duplication of efforts, and leverage their organizational resources.

After just one year of working together, members of the SCMSN were engaged in over 40 new collaborative projects that had formed between two or more organizations, in what is described in the next section as the place where self-interest and shared-interest intersect.

  1. Collaborate at the Systems Level

To collaborate at the systems level, members of a complex collaboration must begin by identifying what are often described as “leverage points”—or those places in a system where, as Donella Meadows has said, “a small shift in one thing can produce big changes in everything.”

In this respect, leverage points are something like acupuncture points—those places where a finely-tuned, strategic intervention is capable of rebalancing and realigning an entire system. In a complex collaboration, leverage points are also those opportunities where participants can have more effect by working together than they can by working alone.

In the collaborative efforts we have worked with, the leverage points that participants have identified for affecting their system or shared problem have frequently coalesced around opportunities such as working together to increase public awareness of the problem, securing resources as a network to continue or enhance their ability to collaborate, or drawing on the strength of their collective voice to influence public officials and policy makers.

Once leverage points have been identified, members partner with others on one or more self-selecting teams to develop and implement a plan of action for generating the influence or effecting the change that has been identified. Members typically join teams where they feel they can have an effect, and where their organization’s priorities align with the shared priorities of the collective. The six active teams of the SCMSN are listed in the diagram below.

This overlap between a member’s individual priorities and the collective’s shared priorities is what we refer to as the intersection of self-interest and shared-interest, and it is critical to the success of a collaboration.

Most complex collaborations require the commitment of people who already have other jobs, which are frequently demanding in their own right. Therefore, serving the purpose of the collaboration must in some way also serve the purpose of each member and the people they represent. Otherwise, in time, members of a collaboration are not going to be able to sustain or justify the extra commitment they have assumed by participating in the effort, and they may choose to leave — which is OK.

Collaborations are living systems, not static machines. Therefore, the teams in a collaboration should not be viewed like the standing committees on a nonprofit board. Rather, they are agile groups that form when a need arises, and disappear when they’ve completed their task. Similarly, complex collaborations are sparked when the need arises, and they may likewise dissipate when their purpose for existing has been fulfilled.

SCMSN structure

To make sure that the collaborative teams actually get stuff done, we recommend that each team select a Team Lead. This function is served for the collaboration as a whole by the Core Team — a leadership function sometimes referred to as a Leadership Team or Steering Committee that is composed of a diverse selection of network members who are elected by all the collaboration’s participants. The Core Team usually makes preliminary decisions about such topics as funding, membership criteria, and external partnerships. The Core Team’s recommendations are then communicated to the whole network for consideration and a final decision by all the members of the collaboration. Deciding how a large group makes decisions can be tricky, but we’ve found that the fist-to-five method for consensus decision making works remarkably well.

Finally, just like the organizations involved in a collaborative effort, the collaboration itself can’t exist in a bubble and expect to thrive. Over time, the collaboration needs to engage and coordinate with other related or complementary efforts, particularly those within the same geography. In the case of the SCMSN, this has meant connecting with the Peninsula Working Group, a similar collaboration focused on lands north of the Santa Cruz Mountains, and the Large Landscape Practitioners Network, a national alliance of conservation professionals dedicated to advancing the theory and practice of stewarding entire regional landscapes.

Complex Collaborations in Organizations 

Now that you have a sense of how the five activities are used to form a collaboration of multiple organizations, let’s look at how complex collaborations can also work within traditional, hierarchically structured organizations or systems, such as governments, national nonprofits, or hospital systems.

Trying to change an existing system is often compared to trying to turn a battleship or an ocean liner—not easy and it typically takes a long time, if it can be done at all.

Complex collaborations in organizations

So instead of trying to change a traditional organization as a whole, it’s possible to operate part of your organization like a network — a dual-operating system” as John Kotter calls it, “with all the agility that enables” — while at the same time maintaining a reliable hierarchical system that keeps doing what you already do well.

For example, we recently worked with the UCSF Health system to support a complex collaboration featuring 40 leaders representing 12 sites and 10 health disciplines to improve the coordination of care for people with serious illnesses. Although the context was very different from a network building effort like the one described above, the process, or the HOW, was very similar.

Collaborations within organizations also need to clarify a shared purpose, convene the right people, cultivate trust, coordinate existing actions, and collaborate at the systems level. The result at UCSF Health was a system-wide collaboration consisting of six teams, each one focused on a key leverage point — all coordinated by a six-person Core Team.

Complex Collaborations Require Good Leadership 

Not long ago, there was a popular idea among many who are committed to social change that the great hope for the evolution of society rested with the cultivation and funding of social entrepreneurs. Indeed social entrepreneurs and social sector leaders are absolutely necessary, but they are not sufficient.

In case after case, it has simply proven too difficult to fully scale individual organizations to match the scope and complexity of the problems we face.

In sober appreciation of these challenges, we have come to the conclusion that the essential ingredient needed for effective, systems-wide social change are servant leaders who have the capabilities needed to build truly effective collaborations, across silos and divides. We call these leaders “network entrepreneurs,” and we think of them as representing an evolution of social entrepreneurs.

Network EntrepreneursLike social entrepreneurs, network entrepreneurs are visionary, ambitious, and relentless in pursuit of their missions. But where social entrepreneurs often struggle, despite heroic efforts, to scale their own organizations, a network entrepreneur’s approach expands beyond the boundaries of their own organization, supporting peers and partners across sectors to solve the problem.

The role of a network entrepreneur is to help the members of a collaboration to convene, connect, communicate, and coordinate around its shared purpose. They are able to mobilize a constellation of people, resources and skills that enables the achievement of a shared vision. They operate  not from within any single organization, but in the space between. In this way they are a special breed of what Senge, Hamilton and Kania called system leaders.

To fulfill this role, a network entrepreneur must be able to fulfill three core functions:

  • Front of the house: public interface and outreach, external communications, and fundraising.
  • Middle of the house: process design, meeting facilitation, conflict management and mediation, member on-boarding, project coordination, and network weaving.
  • Back of the house: operations including convening logistics, tech support, project tracking and evaluation, and financial planning.

Just as there are teams of business and social entrepreneurs who launch a startup together, there could also be teams of network entrepreneurs who work together to catalyze and sustain complex collaborations. A team can be stronger and more resilient than any single person, if they too are connected through trust and a shared purpose.

For seven examples of leaders that are generating systems-level social impact in environmental conservation, education, economic development, and beyond, check out the network entrepreneurs series in Stanford Social Innovation Review.

Return on Relationships

Above all, when planning a collaborative effort, keep in mind that the greatest investment you can make to ensure its success is in cultivating resilient relationships between the people and organizations involved. Strong relationships are the cause of successful collaboration, not just the result of it. This is what we call the Return on Relationships.

This post originally appeared in the Converge Blog, and is republished here with permission. 

A Framework for Building Your Cross Sector Leadership Practice


Imagine a world where individuals working in all sectors collaborate to solve our toughest social, economic, and environmental problems. It's hard to do, because for decades, we've approached these challenges through siloed solutions, whether policy, market-based, or social programs.  And very few of these attempts have been sufficient to address the problems at the scale which they exist. This is because our problems are not a result of one policy, investment or program—but an interaction between many of them.  And as Albert Einstein noted "We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them."  This is why we need a movement of leaders equipped to work differently–across silos and sectors—in cross-sector collaborations.

Cross sector collaborations are alliances of organizations that together have a role in solving a problem and achieving a shared goal.  This is an umbrella term that encompasses a range of models from private-public partnerships to shared value to collective impact, as well as alliances that are working in ways not yet labeled or codified.

Cross sector collaboration isn't new. For decades people have been building alliances of individuals working within and across sectors that together have a role in solving a problem and achieving a shared goal.  What has been changing in the last decade is the urgency for and amount of focus on this way of working.  The urgency for cross sector collaboration has developed because of the growth of and increased complexity of some of our most pressing problems – social, economic, and environmental -- has been outpacing the scale of solutions.  The focus on cross sector collaboration has grown as more government and philanthropic investors – and even some investments in capital markets – are requiring it of their grantees and partners.

Because cross sector collaborations operate outside traditional organizational models of authority and accountability, they require individuals and organizations to work differently.  They require individuals and organizations to build the capacity to work across differences – in demographics, education, training, expertise, philosophy, industry, sector; learn in order to better understand the source of the problem they are trying to solve; and use their influence to change values, behaviors, policies, practices, and investments within their own organizations and with others in order to support of some larger goal.

When we think about how to build the capacity to engage in cross sector collaboration, we believe there are four areas in which individuals and organizations most benefit from learning.

Personal Leadership Capacity of Individuals Engaging in Cross Sector Collaboration

Almost all education and training prepares and individual to work within organizational structures.  In order to be able to practice cross sector leadership, individuals need to have a strong understanding and base of leadership development including how they understand their own strengths, how they can influence without authority, and how they cultivate a growth mindset.

Organizational Readiness and Capacity to Engage in Cross Sector Collaboration

While the individual practitioner is the participant in a cross sector collaboration, more often than not, the practitioner are serving as a representative of an organization that has an interest in solving a problem and achieving a shared result.  The individual's ability to be effective in bringing the work of the collaboration into the organization, and aligning the organization's values, practices, and policies with the goals of the collaboration is directly linked to the organization's readiness and capacity to engage, including the strengths of its internal operations and systems, its internal culture, and if there is sufficient capacity for cross sector collaboration as part or all of an individual's role (as opposed to being an added-on job responsibility).

Cross Sector Leadership Skills (The Trefoil)

Through independent research and observation the Presidio Institute has identified nine skills which cross sector practitioners use to help shape impactful collaborations.  While it is not assumed that every individual has well-developed capacity in all of these areas, they provide a lens for individuals to develop their toolkits, and for collaborations to think strategically about what they need to consider in their work.

Building Teams

1) Developing Trust: How do we create space to understand one another's experiences, work, training, and pressures?  | How do we build and maintain empathy for one another and commitment to the work? | How do we build the resilience to be able to speak frankly without fear?

2) Managing Power Dynamics & Conflict: How do we acknowledge power dynamics? | How do we bring a lens of diversity, equity, and inclusion to the work that we are doing? | How do we approach and enable conflict to occur productively?

3) Fostering an Innovation Culture: How do we build a learning culture to our cross sector work?  | How do we create a culture of continuous improvement?  | How do we make ourselves open to new information, ideas, and ways of developing solutions?

Solving Problems

4) Understanding Impact on People: How do we better understand the problem by understanding the experience with those it directly affects?  | How do we help people and organizations see how they are contributing to the problem?  | How do we build a process of reflection and analysis into our practice in order to continue to refine our understanding of that problem?

5) Taking a Systems Approach: How do we support one another to see the system? | How do we enable all collaborators to be able to take off their organizational/individual hat and put on their systems hat?

6) Defining Results and Using Data: How do we help a cross sector effort define its results and identify leading indicators?  | How do we use qualitative and quantitative data to inform decision-making?

Achieving Impact

7) Aligning Motivations & Values: How do we work to understand one another's motivations and values? | How do we work to align financial, intellectual, human, and social capital to achieve impact?

8) Using Leverage Points: How do we identify the "right" leverage points to produce the intended results?  | How do we develop strategies relating to those leverage points?

9) Sharing Knowledge & Learning: How do we build mindsets and create a culture where collaborators can share what they're learning in as close to real time as possible? | How can we learn from communications and behavioral research to tell our stories effectively?  | How do we make what we're learning open and accessible to others?

Models and Practices of Cross Sector Collaboration

For decades, people and organizations have been engaging in cross sector collaboration.  However in the last decade, there has been significant growth in sharing the stories and processes of their efforts.  By learning with and from leaders practicing cross sector leadership, and those that study, chronicle, and codify their work, there is an opportunity for practitioners to explore the known known models of cross sector collaboration and what results are they best equipped to produce.  As well as what differentiates cross sector collaborations that have had measurable impact from those that have not.

This post was written by Alison Gold and originally appeared on Presidio Institute's website; it is republished here with permission.