Look in, look out, move together: unleashing collective power for change

Laura BassettDirector of Partnerships at the Integrate Agency CIC
17 Aug 2023
SLA - Collaborate

I don’t know about you, but I really like meerkats. I dig the way that they keep lookout, scouring the peripheries of their environments with panoramic vision.

I’m lucky in that I get to meet their human counterparts all the time – plugged in super connectors who are ready to meet your gaze. People who get up high to see the bigger picture, who care about the collective, who notice things almost before they happen. Who are furry and eat bugs… Ok no, but they often do have dark patches under their eyes. It’s tiring doing that work alone.

The kind of applied learning that shifts society for the better is, of course, a collective endeavour. It lives in the people and organisations acting as nodes within complex networks. It thrives in clustering, as communities collectively build a lightning rod that sparks innovation and attracts success. Sometimes it happens through repeating your thoughts a few times out loud, trying to sow curiosity, and then you cross your fingers and hope someone will pick up the baton and run with it.

That last one isn’t so reliable sadly. And so enters Becky Margiotta…

As the co-founder and owner of The Billions Institute, LLC, Becky Margiotta has spearheaded the Model for Unleashing Social Change—a dynamic approach to driving large-scale change through collaboration.

We were fortunate to be joined by Becky on the last day of our formal time together as the first cohort for SEL ICS’s Collaborate Leadership programme.

Drawing inspiration from Becky’s principles, we learned how we can tap into the power of collective effort, transcending individual limitations to go beyond iterative improvements, to generate transformational change.

Along with a swell of ‘let’s go’ energy that I’m not yet sure where to direct, here’s what I picked up:

  1. Understand how solutions live and propagate:

For solutions to spread, they need to pass some tests of worthiness, and we absolutely need to strengthen what Becky refers to as the ‘connective tissue’ that binds us. However, as she describes in her trademark galvanising style, we also need to understand how solutions come to have lives of their own, beyond their creators and the soil where they germinated.

  1. Move from incremental to exponential:

We need to work with a coalition of the willing to build traction to tipping point, (some people – ‘the laggards’ – are just never going to get on board). Bringing people on one by one, team by team, city by city works for so long but eventually the speed of adoption can become limited by your own capacity. You risk burnout, and perhaps even the wins start to feel less satisfying as some of the negative aspects of success kick in, (tall poppy syndrome, criticism, increased complexity). You need an approach that is different in nature to how you first start out.

  1. Begin the journey at home:

‘You won’t make progress “out there” until you take full ownership of everything going on “in here”. – Becky Margiotta

You have to take a look at your self-limiting beliefs and work on your own stuff. You can’t escape yourself, but you can release yourself.

  1. Tool up:

I think we all know we are meant to use levers to effect change. What I didn’t know was just how many levers there are available to us for Expanding Impact. Becky presented a huge list of methods within three main categories: awareness raising, will-building and behaviour change.

  1. Let go of your ego:

Have a great solution? Send it into the world generously. I have seen many good solutions fail to scale because of intellectual vanity, (‘if it’s not my idea, I’m not interested’) and gatekeeping (‘back off and get your own idea, this is our special sauce’). All at great human cost.

I was reminded of the famous quote, ‘It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.’ – Anon* (*Actual credit: Harry S Truman).

So – sprinkle your ideas freely, allow people to adapt and adopt them. Know that no one can ever be you. Let go of anything that’s holding you back, tool up, and in Becky’s words, ‘orchestrate the loss of control to thousands of creative people who are moving in the same direction’. Free the meerkats!

Becky Margiotta’s bestselling book, “Impact with Integrity: Repairing the World Without Breaking Yourself” serves as a compass for professionals dedicated to creating a positive impact.


Laura Bassett is Director of Partnerships at the Integrate Agency CIC, providing capacity building support to Lambeth’s voluntary and community sector. Within that role she acts as Director of Partnerships at Oval Learning Cluster, a registered charity supporting schools in North Lambeth to fund and access enrichment activities for young people. She is also founder of Bugbear Solutions, providing development consultancy for social businesses.