Multisolcing criteria matrix.

Multisolving: How Do You Know It When You See It?

Multisolvers work at all scales and across many sectors. Yet they have four practices in common.

Our research team – Susanne “Susi” Moser Research & Consulting and Tina Smith of Anderson Smith Consulting – have been interviewing multisolving leaders across North America. But before they could begin their research, they needed to know how to recognize a multisolving leader.

After much discussion, we named four characteristics that we see in those who are effectively multisolving. The graphic below shows four key characteristics we look at. The more time project partners spend towards the right side of each dimension the more likely we think it is that they are multisolving.

The dimensions are:

  • Silo-crossing – working across sectors or outside their typical close partners to include many perspectives.
  • Multi-dimensional flows – sharing resources and knowledge from multiple organizations that support many participants.
  • Equity-centering – fair and just application of time and financial investment towards populations disproportionally affected by climate and health disparities.
  • Solidarity – showing up for people with time and money to address the concerns of others, regardless of how those concerns impact you.
Multisolcing criteria matrix.

Our goal is to help people see multisolving in action and see the signals of change as they continue or begin this work. We hope that this graphic is useful in your work.


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That opened a new front of research at Climate Interactive: what else would improve around the world if countries truly transitioned away from fossil fuels? From improvements in air quality to energy security we documented many co-benefits of climate action, and incorporated some of them into Climate Interactive’s well known computer simulation, En-ROADS.

But, the multiple benefits of actions to protect the climate remain mostly theoretical without ways of overcoming the obstacles to multisolving. That’s why, from the beginning of our work we have collaborated with others to understand the bright spots of multisolving around the world and to pilot multisolving approaches. First in Milwaukee in partnership with the Milwuakee Metropolitan Sewerage District and then in Atlanta, with Partnership for Southern Equity, we began to see what was possible by bringing the different parts of a system together in pursuit of actions and investments that lifted up many goals at once.

From this action research, along with a series of case studies of multisolving projects, we began to see attitudes and approaches that are in common across a wide diversity of multisolving projects, a topic we wrote about in Stanford Social Innovation Review.

Then came 2020. Pandemic. Escalating climate change impacts. Dire warnings about biodiversity loss. And more and more folks connecting the dots between each of these issues and structural inequity. Invitations to write, speak, and teach about multisolving came fast and furious and with it the possibility that what we’ve learned from multisolving bright spots could help support leaders around the world to respond to crises with multisolving. That spark led to the launch of the Multisolving Institute and our mission of supporting leaders as they pursue multisolving approaches