top of page
Collaborative Innovation Networks


Collaborative Innovation Networks

We offer training, strategy, design, and facilitation to help diverse groups solve complex problems together. We build and launch new networks, develop resource and funding models, and mentor backbone organizations in rapid innovation and lean impact.

Global Methane Convening

PARTNERS: ClimateWorks Foundation, Climate and Health Research Network, High Tide Foundation, Environmental Defense Fund, Earthworks

This global collaboration, comprising a diverse group of funders and NGO leaders, is advancing a multi-faceted set of global strategies to reduce methane emissions from oil and gas, waste, and agriculture. 

Healthcare Anchor Network

PARTNER: The Democracy Collaborative

A network of over 65 health systems working together to leverage their procurement, investment, and hiring functions to build more equitable and sustainable local economies. Learn more on the Healthcare Anchor Network website.

Human Rights Measurement Initiative

PARTNERS: Motu, University of Georgia, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch

This global network of human rights advocates and researchers has co-developed a suite of reliable and accurate country-level human rights measurement tools. See their work at

Environmental Funders Convening

PARTNERS: Pisces Foundation, MOSAIC

This collaboration is developing a set of initiatives to deepen collaboration among environmental funders and provide better support for NGO's and the broader environmental community

Building Healthy Communities, Del Norte and Adjacent Tribal Lands

PARTNERS: The California Endowment, Wild Rivers Foundation, and the Humboldt Area Foundation

In collaboration with a diverse network of local leaders, we successfully rebooted this 10-year collective impact initiative to revitalize one of the poorest counties in California. Four programs focus on local healthy food systems, third-grade reading levels, health career pathways, and Opportunity Youth. Learn more at

50x50 National Employee Ownership Transition

PARTNER: The Democracy Collaborative

A network of national stakeholders working to create 50 million employee owners in the U.S. by the year 2050, helping to reverse the growing wealth gap and strengthen economies of communities across the country. Learn more at

The Carbon Farming Network

PARTNER: Green America Center for Sustainability Solutions

A multi-stakeholder collaboration representing the full food value chain that's scaling the global adoption of agricultural practices that capture and sequester carbon and reduce carbon emissions. The collaboration is designing a new global standard, a verification and recognition system for climate-positive farming; a global project accelerator, and more. Learn more at

Climate Safe Lending

PARTNERS: Green America, Positive Money, Hewlett Foundation, and Partners for a New Economy

A transatlantic innovation network advancing a portfolio of initiatives to align US and European bank lending practices with the Paris Climate Agreement. The network's initiatives include a learning and support system for internal bank leaders, a graduated commitments model for banks' climate-related lending, and a lab for developing new financial institutions for supporting municipalities' climate transitions. Learn more.

Clean Electronics Production Network

PARTNER: Green America Center for Sustainability Solutions

This network is moving toxic exposures of electronics workers to zero through a first-ever multi-stakeholder collaboration including electronics brands, labor rights NGO’s, and workplace safety experts. Participants range from leading brands like Apple, Google, Dell, HP, Sony, and Intel to worker advocacy NGOs like the International Campaign for Responsible Technology and CEREAL. Learn more at


PARTNER: Health Share of Oregon

Poverty, racism, and ableism create barriers to health and early childhood education. All:Ready is removing those barriers and building new models of care. They are working to co-create new systems of working across partners and sectors, so that race, class, and ability no longer predict families’ access to and use of quality early childhood supports and services.

Nā Kama a Hāloa


This initiative is working to ensure that Native Hawaiian youth that are affected by the foster care system have a lasting network of relationships that they can sustain and that sustain them. Public and private partners on the state and local level are working to improve policies and practices, lift up youth and family voice to drive change, maintain strong connections among siblings, and ground their collaborative work in Hawaiian values and culture.

Stone Soup Maker’s Initiative

PARTNER: United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley

Together with the United Way and non-profits, companies, universities and agencies across the Lehigh Valley, we designed the nation’s first-ever hybrid Impact Hub and Collective Impact incubator and community of practice. The initiative will support the design and operations of multiple collective impact initiatives working on health, education, economic development, and environmental challenges across the Greater Lehigh Valley.

Collaborative Strategy

Collaborative Strategy Projects

We design and facilitate rapid strategy and business design programs for mission-driven organization based on human-centered design and Lean Startup approaches. The engagements are high-energy (and actually fun) and produce specific, practical plans for implementation.

Building the Field of Workforce Development

Client: National Fund for Workforce Solutions

CoCreative supported the National Fund board, staff, and its 30+ member collaboratives to update its vision and mission and identify 5 critical goals to guide its work over the coming 5 years to advance a skilled workforce, invest in equitable outcomes, and promote good jobs.

Developing a Grantee Action Learning and Collaboration System

Client: Partners for a New Economy

In partnership with Truth Studio, we designed and piloted a grantee action learning and collaboration system for this international funder collaborative focused on making the global economy work for people and the planet.

Growing the Impact of Corporate EHS & Sustainability Leaders

Client: NAEM, The Association for EHS Management

CoCreative helped the NAEM board and its corporate and individual members co-design a new strategic vision and new services to help its 5,000 leaders powerfully advance safety, health, and environmental sustainability beyond the boundaries of their individual organizations.

Engaging Architects in Advancing Sustainable Communities

Client: The American Institute of Architects

We designed an innovation process for the AIA's Strategic Council to identify major trends, challenges, and opportunities affecting architects and the world they work in. Key areas of focus for innovation include community resilience, the new urban agenda, and building the capacity of architects to lead work on these and other challenges.

Supporting Teacher-Leaders for Education Reform

​Client: Center for Reinventing Public Education

With support from the Gates Foundation, we designed and facilitated a transformative process involving senior leaders of education unions and education reform leaders to design a program to develop strong union leaders who also advocate for major education reform.

Engaging Diverse Stakeholders for a Sustainable DC

Clients: DC Department of Energy & Environment & DC Office of Planning

We co-designed a plan with cross-functional local government team for engaging business, education, healthcare, and citizen stakeholders in the nation’s most aggressive large city sustainability plan.

Expanding Fair Trade Markets

Client: Fairtrade America

We helped the board and staff to design a powerful vision and mission for the organization, a unique role and strategy, an audacious 5-year goal, and a comprehensive roadmap for achieving the goal. We also supported the design of a powerful 5-year advocacy strategy in consultation with over 90 stakeholders to build economic wellbeing and resiliency in fair trade producer communities.

Prototyping the eBay Green Seller Program

Partner: Green America

We designed a human-centered co-design process to leverage both the buyer interest and seller interest polarity in sustainability to prototype a sustainability commerce platform for eBay, prototyped at

Developing a Business Model for Advancing Municipal Sustainability

Client: STAR communities (now LEED for Cities and Communities)

We designed and facilitated the standards development and business model design for STAR Communities, the world’s first comprehensive sustainability standard for municipalities. The standards process involved building consensus on highly complex standards among 270 stakeholders representing cities, towns, NGO’s, foundations, academic programs, and sustainability consultancies. The business model was designed in two days based preceded by deep dive stakeholder interviews by STAR’s board, staff, and funders.

Engaging Diverse Stakeholders to Develop Social Impact Strategy

Client: Green Mountain Coffee Roasters

We designed a fast-paced stakeholder collaboration model for Green Mountain Coffee Roasters to drive large-scale innovation in energy, waste, poverty, and hunger in the communities in which GMCR operates around the world.

Growing Diversity and Social Responsible Business

Client: Social Venture Network

In partnership with MaryAnne Howland of Ibis Communications, we developed a best practices toolkit for integrating diversity initiatives with corporate social responsibility initiatives to bridge the separation between the predominantly white CSR community and the Diversity & Inclusion community. The project was a key element of the Social Impact Leadership Coalition's "Socially Responsible Business 2.0" strategy.

Collaborative Leadership Training

Collaborative Leadership Training

We create experiential training programs to help leaders address real-world problems while learning new ways to transform complexity, confusion, and conflict into true collaboration and innovation. Through experiential, real-world training, we build the capacity of organizations and leaders across sectors to leverage deep values tensions to flip chronic conflict into understanding, collaboration, and innovation.

UNDP 2021 Good Growth Conference

PARTNER: UNDP Green Commodities Programme

We designed and delivered training sessions on Collaborative Innovation for the diverse partners of the UNDP Green Commodities Program during the 2021 Good Growth Conference. The sessions focused on fostering effective partnerships to drive systemic change using the Four Agendas framework.

Systems Transformation Learning Series

The Funders Network, Garfield Foundation

In this 6-month pilot series, a cohort of 25 funders explored how to foster more effective systems change collaboratives grounded in equity and increased their capacity to co-create the essential conditions for effective systemic collaboration with NGO and funder partners.

Growing Collaborative Leadership across 8 Areas of Need

Client: Multiple Community Foundations

In partnership with multiple community foundations, we delivered a year-long intensive training program to foster multiple collaborative innovation initiatives across the region, focusing on improving issues from health equity to foster youth services to health career pathways.

Leveraging Values Tensions for Innovation and Collaboration

CLIENT: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Developed a training course at Gates Foundation on leveraging values tensions to transform deep conflict and differences in diverse stakeholder groups into collaboration and innovation. The workshop is now a core course in the Foundation's new leadership development program.

Advancing Social Innovation at the UN Development Program

PARTNER: UNDP Innovation Team

Russ served on UNDP’s expert roster on social innovation and design, and taught senior UNDP and country leaders new approaches to producing resilient change in complex social systems, including Collective Impact, Polarity Thinking and Human-Centered Design.

Expanding Social Venture Leadership

PARTNER: Engineers Without Borders Canada

Created cutting-edge training for field leaders in one of the world’s most innovative and influential development organizations. Topics include collaborative innovation, emergent strategy, and the polarity dynamics that lead to project and leadership failures.

Supporting Bipartisan Policy Development

PARTNER: Cliff Kayser, Polarity Partnerships

Designed a political polarities session for Third Way's 2014 “Ideas Retreat” that brought together 60 leaders from U.S. congressional offices across the political spectrum to advance a bipartisan framework for policy negotiations.

Advancing Leadership at the National Education Association


Russ served on the NEA's Leadership Board and worked with multiple levels of the NEA to integrate polarity thinking into NEA’s culture and leadership competency model, to help union leaders learn to leverage conflict and polarization as sources of innovation.

Australian Government Leader ThinkCamp

PARTNER: ThinkPlace

With social innovation design firm ThinkPlace, we co-designed and conducted an intensive “ThinkCamps” with senior public sectors leaders in Australia on how leaders can introduce design thinking into policy and service development in a way that delivers on political imperatives.

Supporting "Both-And" Leadership in the New Zealand Government

Partner: Thought Partners (NZ)

We worked extensively across the New Zealand national government to integrate polarity and design thinking into the development of public policy and services, supporting some of the most innovative government initiatives in the world.

Got a tough problem to solve, or a big vision to realize? We're happy to chat. We'll provide support, connections and ideas whether you hire us or not. Just send us a note below.
bottom of page