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This page includes sample writings, primarily by John Ott and Rose Pinard, about Living Collective Wisdom, collective wisdom generally, and other aspects of C4CW's work with systems, communities, and large-scale change efforts.

Collective Wisdom

Coming in 2024: Living Collective Wisdom, co-authored by John Ott and Rose Pinard.

The Power of Collective Wisdom and The Trap of Collective Folly, co-authored by John Ott and three colleagues—Alan Briskin, Sheryl Erickson, and Tom Callanan—and published in 2009 by Berrett-Koehler. Anyone interested in purchasing or learning more about this book can do so through Berrett-Koehler or Amazon.

Centered on the Edge, a small book published by the Fetzer Institute in 2001, that framed some of the initial terrain of collective wisdom. You can download a PDF of the complete book here: Centered on the Edge. The book helped launch the collective wisdom initiative, also funded by the Fetzer Institute, that began connecting research and explorations from around the world. 

A 2005 report entitled "Wisdom Labs: Creating Conditions for the Reliable Emergence of Wisdom and Right Action in Groups." This report summarizes the results of a research initiative funded by the Fetzer Institute. Wisdom Labs 2005 (PDF)

Reports from Early Academies

Evolving Together for Profound Results: A Learning for Adapting Report for Stanislaus Cradle to Career. Co-authored by John Ott and Rose Pinard, this 2020 report summarizes the progress and emerging developmental edges from Stanislaus Cradle to Career, an ongoing and remarkably ambitious change effort in Stanislaus County, California. Stanislaus Cradle to Career 2020 (PDF)

Cultivating Cultures of Collective Wisdom: Assessing the Impact and Lessons Learned from the Wisdom Transformation Initiative . Co-authored by John Ott and Rose Pinard, this 2016 report summarizes the impact and lessons learned from the Wisdom Transformation Initiative, a three-year effort in Stanislaus County, California. Wisdom Transformation Initiative 2016 (PDF)

Telling the Story of The Angell Foundation's Organizational Spirituality Initiative, a summary of findings from an expansive two-year initiative working with eleven non-profit organizations in Los Angeles, California. OSI Summary Findings 2015 (PDF)

Community Building

A major focus of John and Rose's past work has involved community building initiatives, and efforts to transform health and human services systems to produce better results for individuals, families and communities. They have written a number of papers and articles describing aspects of this work, including the examples below. This work contributed significantly to our understanding and teaching of Living Collective Wisdom's  community core competency .

  • A 2011 paper summarizing the lessons from a Learning Collaborative John and Rose designed and led for the California Institute for Mental Health. Engaging multiple counties in California, the Learning Collaborative focused on how mental health departments can evolve their roles to include strengthening the ability of communities to promote the health and wellbeing of their members independent of services. CIMH Community Capacity-Building Lessons 2011 (PDF)

  • A 2002 report entitled Family and Community Centered: Helping County and Community Service Providers Build Partnerships with Families and CommunitiesFamily and Community Centered Report 2002 (PDF)

  • A 1996 article written for the Georgia Academy Journal focused on the leadership challenges confronting health and human services systems. The issues described by John two decades ago remain relevant today. Meeting the Leadership Challenge 1996 (PDF)

Systems Transformation Efforts

This section includes examples of products that have emerged through large-scale systems change efforts grounded in an orientation to collective wisdom.

  • Trauma and Resiliency: A Systems Change Approach. C4CW helped design and lead a multi-year initiative exploring the potential for trauma and resiliency-informed systems change across Los Angeles County, California. The attached document is an Executive Summary of the final reports for the first two years of this effort. Trauma and Resiliency-Informed Systems Change Executive Summary 2018 (PDF)

  • A multi-million dollar proposal for Tri-City Mental Health System that emerged from a nine-month stakeholder process. The proposal was approved unanimously in March 2010 by the California Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission. Tri-City PEI Plan 2010 (PDF)

  • When the Process Matters: Lessons Learned from the CalWORKs Prioritization Process. This 2006 paper describes the stakeholder process that began in 2002 to resolve a budget shortfall of $70 million in the Los Angeles CalWorks Program. The process unfolded over several years, and ultimately resulted in a major systems overhaul with program recommendations totaling $300 million. CalWorks Prioritization Lessons Learned 2006 (PDF)

  • A 2004 report summarizing the results of a stakeholder process confronting a $30+ million budget shortfall in the Los Angeles County Mental Health System. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved stakeholders' recommendations by consent. LACDMH Budget Recommendations 2004 (PDF)

  • Ignoring the Interior: Some Hypotheses About Why Collaboratives Often Fall Short. John Ott delivered this paper to the 2001 Results for Children Academy on Inclusive Governance. It examines Mark Friedman's Results-based Accountability™ framework through the Four Dimensions of Change, a foundational concept of Living Collective Wisdom. Results-based Accountability has helped inform the results core competency of Living Collective Wisdom. Please visit to learn more about Result-based Accountability. Ignoring the Interior 2001 (PDF)

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