Complexity is Not Stable. New Power, Old Power and Balance

A great set of articles by Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms , “Understanding New Power”  and a follow up riff on that article from from Michael Silberman on MobilizaitonLab have inspired some noodling around with their work.

In the table below, I remix a similar table provided by Heimans and Timms with a slightly different focus in order to point to the stability of the models used. I am reshuffling the layout by looking at gaps between production of power and value and the degree to which the producers of that value and power share in the governance and benefits of their contributions.

Potentially if a business/model is in different columns in the top row than in the bottom row, it is less stable and open to competition from competing models that are aligned and more stable. In some cases, the shift toward stability will come from revolt and/or organizing from within.

NewpowerchartMK

 

A more detailed response to the articles by Silberman and Heimans and Timms is published on Netcentric Campaigns’ official blog, Netcentric Advocacy. I hope you’ll check it out.


Mend the Nets. Network Discussions and Tuna.

We need to continually elevate the field of network building by engaging deeply with other people that are also supporting uplifting socail and policy change thru building networks. Lately,  I am interested in conversations that use disciplined frameworks to look at the desired throughput of a network and then use that to define the scale and structure necessary to deliver those results.

Additionally, I love digging into projects that seek a rationale consistancy about the nature of the  "nodes of the network." And from a starting points discussion of throughput and nodes, look at the protocols for connecting the nodes and the ways to build the functional capacity and strength of those connections.

  Tony Proscio's riff on a presentation by the president of the Helmsley Charitable Trust, John Ettinger, arguing that when foundations group their grantees into networks it “may lead to quicker learning and more efficient operations.” Or, Tony quite rightly points out, sometimes “it leads nowhere at all.”

It’s a painful truth. Networks sometimes fail―or at least fail to meet their full potential. The good news is that when networks fail or struggle, there are identifiable (and correctable) reasons. 

 I am looking forward to continuing the discussion and suggest folks check out Tony's pecies and the recorded presentation at Duke (follow the links below for more of the conversation.) 

 

Cross-posted atHome and Netcentric Advocacy

 


Great talk at Google about Social Physics. Sandy's ideas resonate with my work across a movement. We are often trying to shift many people that are allies in a movement to generate the ties Sandy discusses. We think about social and advocacy campaigns needed the same capacity to work together as scale and in the same way Sandy talks about social learning and social teams within large companies.

It is worth a watch.


What Does It Take to Learn to Collaborate?

This is a brilliant flash of analysis and nice crisp language on the roles and responsibilities for collaborators. I like the way Chris Thompson at  interactioninstitute.org teases apart the characteristics of people that are going to be good at collaboration.  The exchange is worth a read. 

  • Skill – creating conditions for effective collaboration/building trust, designing effective process, deft facilitation, generative listening and inquiry, getting on the balcony/holding the big picture, thinking broadly about “success” (results, process, relationships), celebration of others’ success, being a connector/network weaver, understanding social/power dynamics . . .
  • Attitude – not knowing, humility, bring your expertise but don’t get trapped by it, belief in abundance, appreciation of difference and diversity, authenticity, curiosity, caring, eagerness to learn, seek win-win, respect for others’ perspectives . . .
  • Will – the drive for ongoing personal and systemic development, to push through and keep the collaborative going even when the plane starts to shake, eyes on the prize, willing to put reputation and resources on the line

via interactioninstitute.org


Not all knowledge is evidence, not all good advocacy is evidence based. Disagree.

The title of the clipped article below triggered my response more so than the content. "Not all good advocacy is evidence based".  I have a slightly different perspective on that phrase.

All good advocacy is evidence based. The practice of advocacy itself is built on a historical record that shows advocacy is the necessary requirement for policy change.  Some believe advocacy is more of a dark art than an evidence based approach to creating policy change. Evidence suggests advocacy is required to create any policy change.

This is not really what the riff is about but the discussion of evidence based advocacy is a jumping off point to acknowledge that evidence shows us advocacy is required and necessary. Evidence teaches us how to refine advocacy efforts. Evidence shows us what advocacy works.  If we are committed to creating change based on evidence, then we must commit to effective evidence based advocacy to achieve the desired results.

.image from www.ph.ucla.edu
 John Snow presented a map to London Epidemiological Society to advocate for the closing of the Broad Street well.  His contribution was more than research and mapping. Not just a great doctor and scientist. He persuaded others to understand and prioritize his evidence. He persuaded policy makers to act.   John Snow made his mark as an advocate.  Would he have been quite as remarkable if he didn't also secure the change, close the pump and stop the cholera outbreak?  He actually developed a water borne theory on early outbreaks but the Broad Street event stands out because of the advocacy.   

Our goal as professionals is to demonstrate that such a perception of advocacy is disconnected from the world of evidence and science is wrong.   As dedicated and disaplined campaign practioners, our work is more in line with E.O. Wilsons vision of great science, "work like a book keeper, think like a poet". Expereince, evidence and knowledge tell us that policy only changes through inspiring action (not just presenting facts).  

otherwise, I like the riff...

Evidence is not the same thing as Knowledge – Evidence is usually taken to mean “hard” demonstrable, measurable things. Evidence comes from direct observations, surveys, experiments and evaluations and the like. Evidence is crucial to advancing scientific learning as well as on an everyday level to know how things are going such as through programme monitoring. Knowledge (i.e what we know) is internalized learning – in this sense we only know something demonstrated by evidence if we have internalized it- i.e. we “believe it”. Similarly there are things we know (and act on) for which we don’t have strong evidence – often this knowledge comes from learning and direct experience – even if this is not documented and measured. Much important learning is not documented as evidence – that’s why we often ask for someone else’s advice – someone who “knows”, someone who has done it before.

Not all good advocacy is “evidence-based” – Evidence-based advocacy has been interpreted by some to mean advocacy that uses data, charts, includes report citations etc. to show the strength of the evidence on which a particular argument is based. However it’s probably fair to say we all know people who are unimpressed by numbers and so even if the argument is made more concrete by using them for some audiences this will be a poor method of persuasion for others. A weaker definition of evidence based advocacy would be that the argument we are using to persuade is informed by and supported by available evidence, and is not contradicted by it – but that the evidence itself is only used if that is helpful in making the case with the particular audience. I sometimes jokingly refer to this as “evidence-supported” advocacy. It’s also worth mentioning that part of effective advocacy is understanding and taking into account the interests, needs and prejudices of the person you are trying to persuade – issues such as the political situation in country, a person’s background etc. in this case you might well stress certain evidence that appeal to the audience and downplay or even omit others. Possibly your whole appeal might be at an emotional level or about values and ideals rather than evidence at all (e.g. all children ought to have a right to free education – beecause it’s the “right” thing to do). This isn’t evidence-based advocacy – but it might be good advocacy. What I think we should not do is advocate for things which are contradicted by available evidence – or where we don’t have some grounding either in evidence or in principle (e.g. in Human Rights principles).

Evidence does not equal truth – An obvious point, but evidence is based on fixed observations that are often partial, and new evidence emerges all the time often contradicting or muddying the conclusions we arrived at from past evidence. Just because we have evidence for a particular model or theory doesn’t make it true. We also need to be aware of personal biases in interpreting evidence – in particular people tend to interpret evidence in a way that is supportive to their existing way of thinking.

via kmonadollaraday.wordpress.com

 I would add that evidence doesn't equal prioirity.  Assembling evidence on a problem or solution doesn't mean that change will happen. Experience demonstrates that effective change needs to be based on best solutions and best science but experience doesn't demonstrate that development of best solutions and solid science means change will be implemented.  This disconnect is often created because of a clash of priorities. Science, evidence and experience allows us to know guns are the key contributing factor to needless deaths but the advocacy struggle is over priorities to act on that knowledge vs. taking on economy, immigration, debt, etc.  Advocacy helps build intensity, focus attention and elevate priority. Good advocacy is based on a field of evidence about advocacy and campaign work.

P.S. I strongly recommend Ghost Map by Steven Johnson on Snow's work.

 


What is the word for planning that doesn't create a disconnect with doing?

I am struggling to find the right word or better word for planning.

Good campaign work is adaptive by design.  Effective advocacy is experimental and iterative. Building networks and developing strategy are not opposites but deeply connected. The advocacy network building work we do drives results and our activities and work efforts are the best channels for learning.  

All this being said,  I can't put my finger on the right words to communicate this "better thinking by moving" work we do.  Movement and thinking are connected. We develop advocacy network theory,  campaign theory, organizing theory as we work and through our work.  The real world environment and real users feedback are the most influential drivers that shapes how we think plan network mobilizations.  We are constantly learning by doing and planning while we act.  

I can't find the word for this approach to strategy development in a live campaign  environment. I really need it. 

In our work, we have 3 phases of engagement to support people organizing campaigns. First, we assess the network. Second, we develop network action plans. Finally, we build the network to mobilize on issues and policy change.     

We often get tripped up explaining our work because network action planning is a very active process for us.  The point where theory meets practice is the point for the best planning and forecasting how things will work. I focus on the idea that planning means "working out the subcomponets to a strategy in detail. "  In my work the "working out" can consist of setting up the websites to understand how people will engage with a network, running a few network campaigns to see how otheres interface with network operations, launching services activites to "prime the pump" and demonstrate the ways that the advocacy network will operate as it scales.  Only with the very fine level details and experience gained in this style of network planning is it possible to make the adjustments and prepare for a genuine mobilization.  

My problem is that planning as a term has a bad rap as ivory tower,  think tank and  theoretical.  It is seen as a process void of deliverable other than "the plan". I am not sure I buy into this separation.  

Or am I just failing to get this right?  Any help with this little communication challenge will be greatly appreciated.


Jason Silva. Seek Awe. Amen Brother.

One of my favorite philosophy courses in college was focused on romance, awe and fantasy. Now i am really enjoying the work of Jason Silva. 

I am enjoying these riffs for the content, inspiration, style and unique framing of story.   Jason is creating one story that is positive and high energy without being explicit. He  positions the viewer as a surviver working through a struggle to break into new ways to think.

The way that he crashes though topics and fields of study with excitement and intellectual giddiness reminds me of my favorite friends, teachers, co-workers and old roomates. I have never seen anything like it captured so well (even sent my college prof a thank you letter and a tip to Jasons videos.)

(http://vimeo.com/jasonsilva)  It is high energy imagination at its best.  Seek Awe. Amen Brother.   

 

  Inspire awe in your friends, coworkers and kids. 

Finding Problems and Building Engagement Around Solutions. See Click Fix and Mind Mixer.

 

It is interesting to see these concepts presented together.  Will we see more local communities start to intergrate this into the workflow of local communications with the public?  They both tap the network of the citizens to add capacity to the government. 

What are the community conditions necessary for these types of interventions to succeed?  Has anyone ever leveraged poor responses from elected officials as a more direct pressure on the election discussions?  Is it best if these sites are organized by government, media or political parties?


Looking ahead; The trends that complement your advocacy strategy.

Here is a thought provoking overview of business strategy ( the ideas ~slide 24 on complements and core business). The focus is on the power of platforms and drives home the advantage to building an "ecosystem" of activity that builds on itself and  in the process drives the platform success. (Think Apple App store)

We are NOT applying this strategy in a social change context. (YET)   We do see some of this in voter registration, Change.org, and SumofUS.org but very little at the issue or state level.  This trend of networking people together into movements IS the opportunity for the organizers of this generation.  Increasingly, the complex issues we must address can only be solved with successful networked responses. 

 

 

Do you think your movement has a strategy to build the platform for your work? Are you working in a way that is doomed by the forces that drive a winner take all dynamic? How does your engagement with someone that cares about your issue benefit from others that also work on that issue?  How does your success in recruiting a new member or supporter fuel success of anyone else?

We must start thinking about the network effects of the way that we organize.  Our actions as organizers, policy advocactes, and nonprofit managers have effects that extend beyond our organization.  We must start to organize ourselves to launch campaigns and organizing in a way that each effort drives down the costs of civic participation (not increases the tax on the people we all need to engage).  

As organizers, we must focus on the protocols for better user engagment for the public (not just on our issue). As organizers, we need to focus on winning in the new economy created by the networked world. We must work in new ways to reconnect and invent new ways for large and small organizations to thrive in the age of platforms and networks. 

 


Acting can be a thinking process. Pay attention to the details riff from NOI

I consistently read and enjoy the New Organizing Institute tips. The call to "focus on the on the details" is worth repeating. Hurrah..."Buckle down to the disciplined, grinding work of building..."

They are right. The ability to shift gears from presenting a vision into making things happen is the key pivot network leaders need to make.

If you have not done this work and actually shifted from creating ideas and concepts to the grind of management, budgeting, contracts, scope, organizing calls, working with people in a network, implementation, fundraising, scheduling and budgets then you are missing the great rewarding challenges of our work.   

Without the expereince gained from the "grinding work of building" your ideas will also suffer because although they may be good and creative, you wont force yourself to work thorugh the real steps to make it happen.

Effective network advocacy strategy is designed to adapt and facilitate learning.   My expereince is image from farm4.staticflickr.com that acting is one of the best forms of thinking. Each prototype, budget, design layout, wireframe, map of the network creates evolution in thoughts.   The movement and constantly shifting perspective created by doing informs and creates thoughts and discussion.  Some people do thier best thinking on a run, bike ride drive, etc. Some campaigners develop the best strategy in the heat of the campaign work itself. the "motion" on a campaign is dealing with the details. 

 

90% of great organizing lies in the details. A big idea without the discipline of committed craft is useless.

Plenty of people wanted to organize farmworkers before Cesar Chavez came along. So why did he succeed? In part, because he and his team had learned that excruciating attention to detail really matters. That means signing up every single supporter at an event, measuring every commitment, debriefing every action, measuring every dollar in the grape boycott, and counting every vote in an election.

Excellent organizers aren't those who only say "I'm a big ideas person." Excellent organizers are those who imagine winning a big goal, then buckle down to do the disciplined, grinding work of building the organization to win. Without an attention to detail, you can't expect to bring home the big victories.

via neworganizingeducation.com

 

 

 


Lots of Money and One Important Lesson. Those who need the change the most lead.

What we have learned in our work around the globe is that there is no sustainable social progress without social movements – without ordinary citizens, those who need the change the most, taking the lead on their own behalf.

via www.atlanticphilanthropies.org

This is worth saying again and again. How does your strategy drive "taking the lead" to the people who need the change the most?  Big social movements are relay races not sprints or marathons. It can be a slow path.  You better practice the handoff before you are in the final turn.

It can be a hard path. But if you don't show image from farm4.staticflickr.com me the path you are going to loose.

Solid network-centric investments ALWAYS open up that path to engage the people that need the change and support them in the path to leadership.


JOB: Online Campaign Manager

Career Opportunity: Online Campaign Manager at Netcentric Campaigns
Location: Washington, DC

Job Summary

 Netcentric Campaigns seeks a senior level Online Campaign Manager. Netcentric Campaigns is a division of Green Media Toolshed, a nonprofit organization that specializes in building advocacy networks to successfully champion social and policy change. Netcentric Campaigns provides training in online networking strategy, network assessments and scanning of online activity, consultation on online campaigns, and customized online networking tools and services.


The Online Campaign Manager is responsible for building and supporting advocacy networks. S/he will work with smart, seasoned Directors of Internet Strategy and will interact with our Founder & President on project work.  The ideal candidate is self-motivated, has well-rounded communications skills, and moves projects ahead with little guidance. S/he will have the ability to prioritize competing responsibilities and resolve conflicts with team member and vendors. S/he will have experience in managing 2-3 team members and will successfully work on multiple projects with multiple supervisors. We’re looking for someone who has an unyielding commitment to high standards as well as a tenacious approach to testing and troubleshooting. We want someone who sweats the details, will work well under tight deadlines, and can shift gears easily when a project changes direction.

full details http://www.greenmediatoolshed.org/content/job-opportunity-online-campaign-manager#

 



Story of Change.. Go to the Heart of the Problem

Right On! Another great video from Annie and Freerange.   It will be interesting to see how the quiz results connect audeinces to each other to mobilze work.   Hope you get involved and support the work. 


Organizing and Mobilizing - 2 Distinct Strategies in Your Advocacy Effort.

I have been struggling lately to get more clairty on the concepts of organzing and mobilizing.These are terms of art in my world but often see the concepts mashed together.  These terms do not mean the same thing in an advocacy context and BOTH are very important.    

Problems emerge in conferences and in group conversations when mobilizers and organizers get together and don't call out important differences in the way they work.  The confusion of these concepts muddles campain work, online and network building strategy.

Organizers... Bring people together, they organize people to address whatever emerges as the people's priorities. The organizers focus on listening, building community, building trust and building respect. Organizers welcome conversation, stive for genuine diversity, push for distributed ownership of the group,  and know group process. Orgaanizers default toward concenus, need to make sure all views are heard and want to keep everyone engaged.  

Mobilizers ... Work with people in order to focus on a set of steps to get something done. Mobilizers focus on moving people to act. Mobilizers push and pull the people they can to take a sequence of steps.  Mobilizers attract and sustain engagement by demonstrating momentum and direction. Mobilizers default toward pushing to the next step. 

When we mash these concepts together, we do a disservice to both. Organizers need mobilization to keep people engaged so that participants feel a sense of trajectory and accomplishments. Mobilizers need organizers to weave the base they will work with to get things done. 

Good strategies often meshes organzing and mobilizing into one effort as a part of a continum of things that happen. A great strategy focuses on consistently meeting the needs and process of both organzing and mobilizing while carefully building the mechanisms to hold the mobilizers and organizers together in alignment.

I see too many critiques of campaigns that say "that goup is great at getting people together but they don't DO anything" OR "that group does campaigns but they don't engage the community or listen".   We need to look at both and ask ...is this an organzing group or a mobilizing group?Am I applying the wrong metrics to the group? 

In your campaign ..

  1. Is there a dedicated effort to organize for the sake of organzing? Or is there only organzing for the purposes of mobilzation? 
  2. Is there a dedicated effort to organize the people mobilized to act? Is there a process to push those mobilized back into the arms of organizers?
  3. Is there a dedicated effort to mobilize those who are organized? Teasing out people that are engaged and pushing them to act.
  4. Are the things in place (seven elements of an advocacy network)  in this context to connect and grow the power of both mobilizers and organizers?