Collective Impact: Answers for the Outdoor Industry

Ever heard of the shooting game “knockout?” The game is pretty simple. A clay target is thrown with the first shooter in a line getting the first chance to shoot it. If that person misses, the next shooter has a chance to “knock them out” by breaking the target. With each miss another shooter gets a chance to break the target, until finally the target hits the ground. If everyone misses, no one gets knocked out. The winner is the person who successfully knocks out their competition by shooting the targets missed by those before them. It’s a fun, simple way to pass some time on the range – and potentially make a few bucks, if you’re the best shot in your bunch. In many ways knockout resembles the approach we humans take to solving big, important problems.

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The similarities of knockout to group problem solving endeavors are many. There is a common goal or target. Individuals come to the table with their skill, tools and best intentions to solve the problem. Usually a couple of the better prepared emerge the leaders. Perhaps it’s the person with the best funding for equipment, or the one that’s had the most practice , or the one who’s hot that day – someone will win and most everyone else goes home with less money and a little soreness. The knockout approach works when the targets are small, and the object is to win. But, what would happen if the target was too big for any one shooter? What if we all shot at the same time, at the same target? Could we not break more, bigger targets?

Big problems need a different approach. When winning resembles a rising tide and not a winner take all, we must approach the challenges more thoughtfully. Enter the “Collective Impact” approach. Collective Impact refers to a group of participants from different sectors committing to a common agenda for solving a specific social problem. It’s different than collaboration in that the efforts are structured, planned and measured across all the organizations and individuals applied to the problem. Collective Impact holds the answers our industry needs for its future.

I was recently invited to attend a Collective Impact presentation put on by the Executive Director of the Peter Kiewit Foundation, Jeff Kutash. What I learned is Collective Impact can already be seen in the outdoor industry in the form of Take me Fishing, the cooperative approach to promoting the outdoors through fishing, led by the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (RBFF). More recently, the work of the Council to Advance Hunting and Shooting Sports and their project, the National R3 Plan, is becoming a good example of the Collective Impact approach.

I also learned that to be collective, the challenges in our industry need your agency, company or organization’s participation. To have the most impact, initiatives like those led by RBFF and CAHSS need your time, talent and financial resources. When the problems are as big as the future of funding for conservation, declining participation in outdoor activities, and the very sustainability of our way of life, all stakeholders must find a way to do their part in the coordinated approaches these organizations are leading.

Here’s a link to the outstanding PowerPoint presentation by Mr. Kutash from the Peter Kiewit Foundation: Collective Impact Soak it in, then find a way to help. We need you.

About the author:

Eric Dinger is the co-founder and CEO of Powderhook.com, a website built to help people find access to hunting and fishing spots, trips, groups and events.  He can be reached at eric@powderhook.com.

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