Executive Director, Collective Change Lab, Inc.
Over the last 30 years John has been a practitioner, researcher, writer, teacher, and speaker on how organizations and people can achieve change together. For 17 years, he ran FSG, a nonprofit consulting firm and think tank working globally across issues and sectors to support social and environmental changemakers. From 2018 to 2020, he served as an Executive-in-Residence at national venture philanthropy New Profit, co-leading the launch of a systems change practice.
As his career evolved, John has explored with increasing depth what it takes to achieve change collectively. In 2011, he co-authored the article “Collective Impact,” which remains Stanford Social Innovation Review’s most-read article ever. The theory and practice of collective impact has spread across the globe, honed and enhanced by thousands of practitioners and initiatives.
One of John’s key interests is the nature of effective leadership in complex social change. He has had the good fortune to learn from and practice with two of the most insightful leadership teachers of our time, Ron Heifetz and Peter Senge. He collaborated with both to publish notable articles: “Leading Boldly” with Ron, and “The Dawn of System Leadership” with Peter.
Most recently John’s practice, research and writing have focused on systems change, helping clarify for practitioners how to “shift the conditions that hold a problem in place.” John’s much-referenced article, “The Water of Systems Change,” (which includes the “Six Conditions of Systems Change” framework) is being used around the world today to bring clarity to systems change and to help people achieve collective potential.
Prior to his work in the social sector, John was a business strategy consultant at CDI and Mercer Management Consulting, with a focus on identifying shifting profit opportunities for companies. He began his career at global ad agency, Leo Burnett, where he first learned the power of narrative to inspire change.
John’s spiritual practice has for many years been an important dimension of his approach to social change. Recently, John has been a student at the Living School within the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque studying the spiritual wisdom traditions with teachers Richard Rohr, Barbara Holmes, Cynthia Bourgeault, Brian McLaren and James Finley. He has a daily meditation practice.
John holds an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management and a BA from Dartmouth College. He is an adjunct professor at Northeastern University in the Graduate Program for Social Innovation