What is a framework?

A framework is a set of processes or activities widely accepted enough to serve as guiding principles. They act like maps guiding you which direction to go.

It is not intended to impose a rigid set of rules and constraints. Rather, it is a guide to start an initiative and inspire new ways of thinking.

The Constellation Model of Collaborative Social Change

The Constellation Model of Partnering started in Canada to address a need for flexible lightweight partnership to bring together groups from multiple sectors to work toward a joint outcome. The approach emphasizes the value of getting more done together than alone to create a resilient network.

The model suggests lightweight governance, action-focused teams and third-party coordination to solve concrete problems within the context of a rapidly changing complex and networked ecosystem.

Like the stars, constellations are loosely coupled together to create a rough and chaotic whole. The model argues that much like the constellations, partners or groups come together based on their own interests, passion and skills. These small self-organising teams or clusters work together on a particular task or issue but are bound by a common vision shared by everyone in the ecosystem.

The model states that constellations flow from opportunism, not from a rigid strategic plan. The biggest strength of the approach is built around the natural energy flows of a group.

The success of the model rests in three key major elemnts namely: lightweight governance, action-focused work teams and third-party coordination.


Mark Surman and Tonya Surman. Listening to the Stars: the Constellation Model of Collaborative Social Change. Social Space. 2008.