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

 


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

 

 

 


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? 

Compound Bow, Longbow and Bowling Balls. Network-Centric Advocacy: Potential Energy with the Advocacy Movement.

Compound bows maximize the energy storage throughout the draw cycle and provide let-off at the end of the cycle (less holding weight at full draw). A traditional recurve bow has a very linear draw force curve - meaning that as the bow is drawn back, the draw force becomes increasingly heavier with each inch of draw (and most difficult at full draw). Therefore, little energy is stored in the first half of the draw, and much more energy at the end where the draw weight is heaviest. The compound bow operates with a very different weight profile, reaching its peak weight within the first few inches of the draw, and remaining more flat and constant until the end of the cycle where the cams "let-off" and allow a reduced holding weight. This manipulation of the peak weight throughout the draw is why compound bows store more energy and shoot faster than an equivalent peak weight recurve bow or longbow.

via en.wikipedia.org

The rules of potential energy tell us an object can store energy based upon its position and structure.

How is your movement building a “compound bow”?

Here is another way to think of energy, imagine a bowling ball…in a flat gravel driveway,  a significant amount of force is required to accelerate it. However, the same ball sitting on a dirt road at the top of long hill will roll with the slightest nudge.  The ball will start bouncing, hopping and rolling down the dirt road. 

The difference in these scenarios of the bow or the ball on the hill  lies in the stored “energy of position” created by the ball’s placement and the bows structure. Potential energy is measured in degree of ability to perform work, to displace some quantity of mass.

It takes exactly the same amount of energy to move the ball up to the top of the hill as it does to accelerate it along the driveway but “the cost” of investing the energy is not linear. 

It would take a lot of capacity to blast the bowling ball down the drive way to the same speed (bouncing, hopping and rolling).  

A compound bow takes the mechanics of energy storage to an even greater design alloing a user not just to hold the energy but to hold it comfortably and directed and stored to deliver the most use.

These same forces exist within advocacy. With a little creative thought about building stored energy into a campaign infrastructure, we can lower the costs and capacity needs of accelerating change.

In our world when we are working to “displace some quantity of mass” we are talking about influence in culture, policy, opinion and actions. Do you build a base overnight or do you leverage more efficent stuctures to build and store energy?  How do you position your assets so they have the greatest work potential stored in them?  Where is the last place to store your bowling balls  and assets (in the middle of a valley or behind hoops of program officers and applicaitons) ?

 Using this framework,  we can think of some principals for campaigns.

  1. Don't wait to build your movement because you want to hold back your reserves. Focus instead on building tools that build steadily "hold" resouces ready. However, borrowing from logistics and supply chain management also remember  the flexibility of your "energy holder" really matters.    There are a few new movement structures out there but they are deisgned to "store and nuture" a movement for others to leverage on demand. 
  2. Once a base of clout is organized in a new "position" it will change the dynamic of work. The compound bow changed warfare, and distributed supply chains drove shifts in business models. As we build more flexile campaign teams and infrastucture, the fundamental ways we organize will transform to leverage the new systems in place.   When many groups can all leverage the reach to the  same base of activist while still being independent you will see new organzing as a service model emerge (testing at www.movingmdforward.net).
  3. Finally, the tempo of delivering clout changes because the potential of the movement is organized more "forward and nimble" and therefore the other campaigners see a shorter cycle between developing campaign ideas and being able to implement them. The increased tempo of organzing creates a "mobilizing" dynamic consisting of many things "to do" for people that are eager to see progress and move the aganda forwad. The momentum creates more clout.

(I need to push this forward more...another day...must sleep...) 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Maid Serives, Nail Salons, Taxi Cabs, Issue Groups and Complex Problems for Organizing Change.

We operate in a sector that has no profits, no barriers to entry, little overhead and low labor costs.  In every other sector like our own, the dominate model of operations becomes small independent operations or very lightly controlled franchises. The world of issue organizing is joining the ranks of barber shops, landscaping, maid services, truckers, taxis, newspapers and nail salons.   This shift threatens the core business model of important groups but it also gives rise to new models and services.  

The life-cycle of a movement usually starts as an issue emerges inspiring individuals to act and organize. Founding groups in a movement are organized (NAACP, wilderness society, Teamsters, Amnesty International) get formed and grow.  The new groups recruit talent and pulll together power to create change. As staff increase in skills, build personal and professional networks and talents, a percentage of the talented staff, Board members or funders get increasingly frustrated by the decisions of managers (boards, brands, etc) or politics (wrong message, wrong focus, to conservative or to radicle) so these talented staff split off to create splinter operations that compete directly for media, members, attention of policy makers and funders.

 The basic barriers to entry and the overhead with being a political issue group have gone down toward zero.  In the last ten years the tools to organize, collect information and broadcast messages has dropped drammatically.  The overhead of running an organizaiton has dropped so much that new groups start up quickly and can compete with the same tools as the best funded groups.  These new start ups can survive with less money and provide the niche organizing that the public wants.  Additionally, the overhead of running an operation has dropped and is so low that both groups remain in operation and are likely to continue.  

 The trend willnot go away unless there is an increase barriers to entry or drastically increase overhead costs to stay in business (both unlikely). Political and issue organizing is a complex and chaotic environment in which we want many or all organizers to survive. In fact, we care about overall market share of people engaged and growing the base of people that wish to be a part of organizing for change. We know that the new groups often reach new segments and work on new issues so we are always interested in pushing new organizing to a new edge.  We care about growing the overall engagement and overall success not the allocation of interests and members within individual groups.  

 The problem that has emerged is that as the cultural forces splinter organizing units into smaller and smaller factions the issues that must be addressed grow in scale and quicken in tempo.  Issues such as balancing influence of multi-national corporations, climate crisis, human justice and dignity on an international scale, war, natural resource management and child safety have spiraled into global issues requiring extensive power to track, evaluate and promote solutions.  Even in the US, our own government has take to moving prisoners overseas to complicate the extension of ability to address oversight by US activists groups.

Simply, the problems we want to address are getting bigger while the mechanisms working on the problems are getting smaller. Smaller groups are becoming more powerful but the sum of the smaller groups’ power is significantly less than the potential power of the whole.   

Given the transformation this trend represents to organizing, it is essential to actually solve the challenge of enabling a highly fractured network to work together in an advocacy and issue context.  It is essential to invest in the strategy, training, analysis, research, tools and platforms that enable relationship building to occur and it is essential to train a new generation not just of managers but of network leaders.  


What Flows Through the Network Defines It. Twitter, Facebook, Ebay, Amazon, School Network, Knowledge Networks, Advocacy Networks

Twitter is Not a Social Network is a really thought provoking riff by Gideon Rosenblatt it also has links to some interesting data analysis of twitter.  I agree with the basic trust of the post and it has triggered some clarity about the nature of designing advocacy networks online and offline. I have riffed before on the concept that advocacy networks are not social networks (people that worked on climate change do not want to socialize with each other and may even hate each other.)  But this post brings that distinction into event more clarity. 

My big take away lies hidden in the way Gideon focus on the differece between networks of people (facebook) and networks that use people to achieve specific ends.  

You could call eBay a social network and you wouldn’t be wrong. eBay does connect people; people who want to sell stuff with people who want to buy stuff. What’s interesting about eBay though – what defines it, really – is how those connections are used. What flows through the eBay network are bids, transactions … and products. That’s because it’s an online marketplace; an online marketplace that rests on top of a network of people.

How about Amazon? One of Amazon’s most valuable assets is its user-contributed product reviews, which are essentially just Amazon connecting people who know something about a product with people who want to know something about a product. Clearly, that’s not all Amazon does, but connecting people is a really important part of what they do. So, is Amazon a social network? Well, yes, you could call it that, but that would be confusing ends with means. While less obvious than eBay, Amazon’s marketplace also rests on a network of people.

This approach line of thinking triggers two responses that are consistent with how I understand networks and yet are really contradictory. (oh well)

Good Networks are flexible: Once networks are built (as they are components of infrastucture) the networks will be LEVERAGED IN NEW AND DIFFERENT WAYS .  Sewage networks to run fiber optic cable, cable to run internet, power grid to run data, work networks for dating, dating networks for business, etc. etc.  I think all smart network designers really try to figure out how to manage that. 

 Facebook is on its way to building a general purpose computing and communications platform with the same kind of power Microsoft held in its hay day.

Getting networks to work together comes from establishing protocols for connections and use of the network, but any set of protocols will be tested and constantly pushed for more flexibility. Good network design (ones that embrace a strategy of growth and nimbleness accept both ).

If Facebook is the social network utility, Twitter is a social network application. It’s a great social network application. You might even say it’s a killer social network application. 

As advocactes, we need to test those protocols and exploit the funcationality of networks to achieve change. In the framework Gidieon suggest, our job is to design "advocacy applications" that exploit the power of networks that others have built.  (campaigns on facebook, www.mobileactive.org , organizing revolutions on twitter, political organizing after a local community group meeting, http://www.ebaymainstreet.com/, leverage facebook, etc. etc. ) However, to do this we need to both understand the functionality and culture of the network AND we must understand how we need to complement "what is"  with what is needed to make a funcational advocacy network.  The lack of mashing together social network (builds trust and communicaitons lines) with the full needs of a advocacy network (feedback mechanisms, common vision, common language, access to shared resources, etc.)  leads to the failure of many advocacy camapaigns run on social networks.  (look at the funcationality differences between nationalfield.com and facebook.)

Design of networks DOES influence the character and outcomes that the network will produce. (Here is where the apparent contridictions come in with everything above.) Ebay, Twitter, Facebook,Google, etc. are all networks designed to connect people to do certian things and LEVERAGE what they do as connected to create greater value of the network. 

We can build facebook followers, we can get twitter followers and build email lists but these acts are very important to be able to listen more, and broadcast more. They are ways to open new pathways of communicaiton to users and from users but alone they are not sufficent to say we have build an advocacy network.  Smart advocacy networks are made up of smart advocacy leaders and participants. Without the full set of elements for an advocacy network the network will fail. (see the Nov ananlysis of Occupy network).

When and how we build the advocacy network,establishes the protocols for use, scalability, behavior, and connection (see preventobesity leader registration) this in turn dictates the general parameters of what the network will produce.  The network funcationalities we measure,  the tools we offer, and the feedback we bake into the design are what create the ways the network will get smarter and the capability of what it can do. (for example: ebay seller trust, amazon reviews, facebook likes, googlepage rank).  In a good advocacy network design, we need to provide tools not only for connecting to people (channels and relevant intelligence so people can pick who to connect with) but also tools and services for moving the tageted policy and culture change. We need to do both while constantly developing shared data that informs the network particiapants and the network designers about what is going on, what is working, and what gaps exist.  simply put, building a social network is not building an advocacy network.

Finally, in either case Gideon's conclusion holds true challenge to advocacy network designers as the biggest stuggle in an advocacy context.  

Utility is power and general utility is power squared.

This is the limiting factor of traditional focused advocacy, one off campaigns, single issue groups and the like.  This is the strength of TeaPArty, Occupy, Momsrising, AARP and Moveon. the more fluid they can be across advocacy thier utility power is amplified. These groups established "flexible" brands but we are also testing flexible data policy that encourages sharing the data on individuals that are part of the network in support of the mission.

As advocacy network designers, we want to be as general as possible without loosing the ability to influence the most important elements of direction.  We must disgn networks that provide value and funcationality to "hook" users and manage the connections with those users to the greatest value for them, for the connection to each other and for the network effects. 

I try not to be so late to the conversation but this post by Gideon Rosenblatt has been cooking in the draft pile for a few months. I think his point is looking at utility and the relative strength of Facebook vs. Twitter but teases out something that I think ties up the ways we think about building advocacy networks. However, I have been hoping that I could come up with a solid post  that reconciled conflicts in the way I read the post. 


Building a movement to listen. Building a network so the movement can adapt.

There is a fantastic riff at occupywinning by Jonathan Matthew Smucker.  I highly recommend reading it. 

it’s wrongheaded to get caught up in the elusive search for the perfect silver bullet tactic. Movements are, more than anything else, about people. To build a movement is to listen to people, to read the moment well, and to navigate a course that over time inspires whole swaths of society to identify with the aims of the movement, to buy in, and to take collective action.

For a long time, I have been thinking about the tactics of resistance and change.  I really like this piece because it speaks not only to #occupy as a tactic but seems to ask many of the right strategy questions.

A tactic is basically an action taken with the intention of achieving a particular goal, or at least moving toward it. In long-term struggle, a tactic is better understood as one move among many in an epic game of chess (with the caveat that the powerful and the challengers are in no sense evenly matched). A successful tactic is one that sets us up to eventually achieve gains that we are presently not positioned to win. As Brazilian educator Paulo Freire asked, “What can we do today so that tomorrow we can do what we are unable to do today?”

In the epic game of chess, if you loose because your opponents change the rules and you don’t get as many pieces, find another game to play.  The thing about #occupy that is a “different game” is not the 99% frame but what is going on among the people.

I want to offer that occupy is not a tactic. “occupy” is an organizing structure. Is setting up a nonprofit or launching a traditional coalition a tactic or an organizing structure?

Occupy is the brand but occupy doesn’t mean staying over night in the streets but something more about ownership by the people who participate. Occupy is the message that leadership is not a fixed thing. Occupy is compelling because it demonstrates and tells a story that leadership is among us. This movement is ours. Occupypolice, occupydesign, occupylaw, occupyarrest.occupyoakland, this is the sense of people ownership . The 99% frame is a reflection of a structure that is empowering because it casts a light that we also own other power tools.

We own the democracy. We can if we muster the courage own the power to reset the rules of the chess board.

Any new message discipline or change in operations that doesn’t reinforce that everyone owns occupy or can own occupy is the genuine threat to its strength.

Suggesting change

The occupy movement and the network of the 99% is not yet functional enough to change or quickly adopt, message or movement or tactics. The people lack the connective tissue across cities, there is not enough viral people to people conversation beyond the twitter and other social media.

What can we do? Listen more and turbo charge the capacity of the people that have shown up to inspire others.   We can continue to vary the offerings so that Occupy can pick up the long-tail of support not just the power users that camp and march.  Focus heavily on more voices and adaptability based on the needs identified by the people that participate.

If we do that, the network will strengthen, common language will be given the breathing room to evolve and the visionaries and leaders within the occupy network will be able to guide it thru the change in operational tactics and messages.  The strong network with a high tempo of people owned and lead mobilizations (online and off) will keep the movement vibrant.

One of the most important things we can do today so that we can do more and different things tomorrow is to layer across the occupy movement in the street is the layer of advocacy network structure it will so desperately need in the weeks ahead.


Occupy & The NY Department of Education. The Peoples' Mic. Who Structures the Conversation?

The people want to be heard.  It is interesting that the officals are interested in breaking people into 14 rooms for feedback.(You can hear the proposal in the background of the first 30 seconds) However, the people want to be heard (by media and the community) not just the leaders at the table.

Rock On! People without mics still have voice. there is also intersting background thread of discussion on the youtube page.  Democracy is not always smooth but the people in that room must feel empowered and the people at the table not so much. Which is the point. 

Here is the media coverage...

 

The thugs win again

New York Post - ‎Oct 27, 2011‎
But a group of 200 teachers and Occupy Wall Street backers came out to crash the party. Calling themselves Occupy the DOE, they flooded Seward Park's auditorium and shouted down Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott as he tried to brief parents on the new ...

Protesters Affiliated With Occupy Wall Street Disrupt Department Of Education ...

Huffington Post - ‎Oct 25, 2011‎
"If you want your voice heard, all you have to do is say 'mic check.'" The approximately 200 protesters, loosely affiliated with a new public education committee offshoot of OccupyWall Street, called for increased participation and democracy in ...

What Do You Think of Walcott's Parent Involvement Plan?

New York Times - ‎21 hours ago‎
What do you think of Mr. Walcott's plan? And what services do you think the city needs to provide to get parents more involved? Further, is the parent coordinator an effective resource for drawing in parents? Parent coordinators, what do you need to ...

Department of Education: #Occupied

Our Schools NYC (press release) - ‎Oct 26, 2011‎
And the Occupy Wall Street Public Education committee already has plans for a People's General Assembly on Public Education on Nov. 7th at DOE headquarters. So, for now at least, the People's Mic appears to be winning over an unaccountable, ...

Teachers and Parents Occupy Education Meeting

The Epoch Times - ‎Oct 25, 2011‎
That voice echoed many others that are concerned with the DOE, Chancellor Walcott, and Mayor Bloomberg. The protesters took turns speaking via a "people's mic," in a meeting similar to those in held Zuccotti Park by the Occupy Wall St. protesters. ...

Education Panel Meeting Disrupted By "Occupy" Protesters

NY1 - ‎Oct 25, 2011‎
Called the "People's Microphone," the protesters' call-and-repeat chants, now a trademark of the Occupy Wall Street movement, derailed the Department of Education meeting. Walcott continued to introduce the scheduled speaker, despite the chanting, ...

Protest derails DOE meeting on curriculum after just minutes

GothamSchools - ‎Oct 25, 2011‎
But as Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott and the standards' architect, David Coleman, took the stage at Seward Park High School, protesters aligned with the Occupy movement launched a chorus of complaints via “the people's mic.” “Mic check! ...

Walcott Pledges Measures to Increase Parents' Involvement

New York Times - ‎Oct 26, 2011‎
New York City's Department of Education will create a parent academy and eventually measure how well public schools interact with their students' parents, Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott announced in a speech on Wednesday. ...

 


Help this #occupy video reach millions of Americans on TV — LoudSauce. The crowd is the communications department.

This is a great example of how a network gets work done with shared resources. I imagine we are going to see lots of use of these decentralized tools to “act”.

What will happen with the video?

When we hit our fundraising goal, we'll be able to put this video on the air during popular cable TV shows (like Seinfeld repeats or Sports Center). It will run just like a normal ad.

If we don't hit our goal, you'll get your money returned to you. LoudSauce uses Amazon to process the payments, so it's super secure.

Help this #occupy video reach millions of Americans on TV — LoudSauce

Loudsauce looks very cool.


OccupyWallstreet is not a brand. Why does Occupywallstreet feel different? The network is occupied. A riff…

didn’t have time to make it shorter yet..late night riff not quite a rant but thinking while tired is always dangerous)

It is not a mistake that the #OccupyWallstreet movement has a different rhythm to other movements, street protest or campaigns. #OccupyWallStreet seems to be shaping up as a good example of an advocacy network. This movement along with the peace movement of 2004, Obama Campaign 2008, Teaparty of 2010, Arab spring, is the latest event suggesting organizers need to recalibrate the ways we think about our work.

“In fact, we are witnessing America's first true Internet-era movement, which -- unlike civil rights protests, labor marches, or even the Obama campaign -- does not take its cue from a charismatic leader, express itself in bumper-sticker-length goals and understand itself as having a particular endpoint.” --- Think Occupy Wall St. is a phase? You don't get it - CNN.com

Many organizers are trying to sort out ways to “lead” the movement and the ways to “save it”. Many traditional leaders want to “drive the occupywallstreet bus” but don’t understand what is actually going on, how to participate, what it needs, or what to expect. Their confusion is intentional.

“The exhausted political machines and their PR slicks are already seeking leaders to elevate, messages to claim, talking points to move on. They, more than anyone, will attempt to seize and shape this moment. They are racing to reach the front of the line. But how can they run out in front of something that is in front of them? They cannot. For Wall Street and Washington, the demand is not on them to give us something that isn’t theirs to give. It’s ours. It’s on us. We aren’t going anywhere. We just got here” . (from the occupywallstreet journal…)

People are wondering “what the hell is this?”, Do I drop everything and jump in?” or “is it a waste of time”? Our dreamers and skeptics, don’t know if it is a movement of crazies or will it go away after the first big news story.

Food for Thought

Occupywallstreet is not the brand. The user experience is the brand.

We are a generation that understands “brands” as an experience. Starbucks or Apple Stores the experience of engagement is changing. This is not a single logo, banner, story, camp or occupation. This is the teaparty and the peace movement, this is the new labor, the unemployed, and the artists. Occupywallstreet may or may not stick around. A general assembly may get their demands met or fade into nothing. They may get beat by police or celebrated as heroes. We don’t know.

We do know that tens of thousands of people are being “on ramped” to engagement and leadership without preconditions. We know that lots of people are paying attention and that this loose ad hoc movement is pulling off organizing that some of the best in the organizing business couldn’t imagine possible.

The experience is that the camps assume, people are informed. They are there to be served, encouraged to struggle and to be a part on their terms. People are exposed to sausage making. People are assumed to be leaders and committed. People are assumed to inspire each other without need for “professional spin and packaging”. Everyone can interact with each other. Nobody owns the movement or the people of the movement.

OccupyWallstreet like a few other internet age movements has started from a very different place than any advocacy group. No matter when I show up, or how little or much I give. This movement is “mine” not “theirs”. People own this.

Leader full movements are not leaderless.

Network-centric advocacy is intentionally resilient. Competition among leaders is a feature not a bug. Networks are designed to foster continual experimentation and the network demands adaptability as a feature. Being a “leader full” movement means that change is the only thing that satisfies the movement not co-opting the leaders or creating a few points failure. This design means that cohesion is harder to maintain but arguably less difficult than dealing with centralized leadership that not only fails but also saps the movement the passion of participation.

Movements Diversify to Grow : Focus when power is needed.

When movements are growing they should be diversifying. The open door invites a broad agenda. Many traditional organizers are both wishing that this movement would focus so as to define it. However, the occupy frame and resistance is beautiful in that it encompasses so much and invites more. The real test will not be if it stop accepting new ideas and agendas, but the capacity to deliver solidarity when the “one for all and all for one” comes to the test. In a highly communicative environment and an age of quick alignment, can this new movement deliver power?

When you come out of nowhere, there is a fear you will go back to nowhere.

Ad hoc movements scare both allies and opponents because they don’t know how long you will be around. When there are no barriers to entry, there are no barriers to exits. People can come and go and comeback again. Is occupywallstreet the new Sierra Club or are they the peace movement of 2004? People are afraid to invest in the early days, because they don’t want to be the “fools” that dumped lots of time and energy into a movement that disappeared in the first snow storm. But they also fear being irrelevant if they don’t join. Those fears can be combated with hope and faith in the people they get to know as a part of the network.

In the new age, these old organizing fears can also be combated by knowing that “nowhere is not gone.” Networks have a very low life support cost when they are not active. Do people think the anti-war movement is gone because it didn’t build a new corporate headquarters? Are the resistance in Iran gone? Does it surprise people that after 2008 election progressives experienced a big lull? The failure is not in keeping people engaged when it is dangerous, expensive and not productive. the new challenge is to train and set up operating procedures, and leaders that are geared to support a movement that fosters rapid “out of nowhere” growth, successful rapid organization and also rapidly dissolving with the process and assumption that the movement will reconstitute again and again in new configurations, with new causes to do new actions. Driven by new leaders each time.

Advocacy will always be a high risk business.

High risk business with a known brand or a bunch of victims on the street is still high risk endeavor. Betting on the most trusted names in advocacy has not exactly been a winning strategy. The only difference is our people in the street will be harder to predict and probably cost a lot less to sustain.

Beyond these themes, I also wanted to take advantage of the moment to layout the network-centric advocacy framework, examples from coverage of occupywallstreet and suggestions for a network action plan and guidance on how traditional organizers can engage.

1. The Network Managers Rapid Network Assessment of OccupyWallStreet

Netcentric Advocacy Element

OcccupyWallstreet Example

Trust

  • Transparency in planning and communications
  • Listening (the General Assembly)
  • “Camps” – People feeding and caring for each other. Spending the time to connect with each other.
  • Deep respect for all the participants regardless of background.

Common Story

  • The event itself.
  • Crazy culture getting to know each other’s stories.
  • Being “ok” with lack of single demands

Communications Grid

Vision

  • Not clear yet…. will emerge from the use of the communications grid and feedback
  • Occupy

Shared Resources

  • Working Committees
    • Medical Care
    • Legal Advise
    • Arts and Culture Tents
    • Hospitality
    • Entertainment
  • Websites
  • Volunteers

Feedback

  • The size and durability of the camp.
  • the sustained participation of return campers.
  • Size of the walk in crowds.
  • Belief in the general assembly.
  • Morale in the Camps
  • Handsignals (not applause)
  • News coverage
  • Chatter on the communications grid

Network Actors

 

weavers

  • greeters
  • (don’t know how the different camps are cross pollinating ideas and weaving with traditional organizations. )

drivers

  • The many people that want to push the camps into actions and to adopt campaigns and causes.

operations

  • logistics and organizers that welcome new people and manage the volunteers.

participants

  • Walk-ins
  • People connected thru organizations.
  • supporters online and offline

My suggestions on a “Network Action Plan”

We should all be careful to realize there is a better way to support networks then to co-opt them. We also need to realize that all networks have a carrying capacity, an ability to carry “load”. Just as you assess how an organization will respond to a big grant, or an individual to a winning lottery ticket, how can a network be fed additional strength without overloading it? What are the investments that will boost the advocacy network capacity of occupywallstreet? .

My riff of organizing supports based on observations online…. suggests that the movement needs more “feedback mechanisms” that are good at showing participants what is working and drawing people toward them. (invest in a welcome and exit interviews) that are published across the network. Such regular reports will help build unity around values. Organizing a daily “morale measure” dashboard with the meetups would be good to identify places that have something powerful going on and the places that need additional support.

The communications grid is effective in camp and online, but I am not seeing enough cross camp and multi-channel communications. Netcentric-Advocacy framework suggests layering in more robust communications grid would be helpful including a clear unified additional radio coverage, live streaming, 800 call in shows and other ways of fostering camp-to-camp suggestions. This would help support the transitions of communications from web, to voice and paper and back again from paper and voice comments to the web.

Develop a process for managing shared resources including better collection, warehousing, distribution and management of resources across the camps. Develop a more robust “starter pack” process so that part of the strategy includes each new occupy effort growing to a set size and then spawning another.

Support staff and others to participate and support the folks in the camps to become part of anchor teams to coordinate trust across camps. Support the development of volunteer weavers to guide the more established organizers navigate getting involved.

What Can you Do as a Progressive Organizer that wants to “tap into” the OccupyWallStreet opportunity?

  • “Tune in” listen. Go. See what this is about. Spend time “owning” the movement to sort out how your organizing fits. Build trust and relationships with a new generation of leaders.
  • Be patient. This is only the first experiment. There will be waves with each applying new lessons, technology uses and organizing techniques. It is going to take time to develop language that works with such a diverse and changing group of participants. Until the common language and values emerge, it will be difficult for large scale coordination to take place.
  • Try to move your issue and talk about it with the people in the camps. How do you relate to their issues and stories?
  • Push more good people to go to participate, network, listen and build social ties. Figure out how they are building internal trust in the local organizing. Encourage staff to at least visit for a day to see what they can learn and to find allies they can support.
  • Blog, post to social media and write about your experience. Add to the communications grid, find ways to facilitate more conversation and communications capacity within and across camps and people within the camps that care about your issues.
  • Encourage your best story tellers and staff writers to go, blog, video and write about their experiences in a way that works to lift up the common language and values.
  • Provide more “shared resources” let your local leadership know what assets you can offer from voter lists, food, printers, communications help, volunteers, policy briefing committees, etc. Start “snowballing” with the activities on the ground building successive waves of activity for example coordinating online and phone activities to add synergistic effects to street actions.

What to expect?

  1. Expect good things.
  2. Find new activism and new leaders. Learn new skills and connect with potential allies in your own efforts.
  3. Expect to find more things to do and more issues to consider and support.
  4. Expect frustration and inspiration at the same time.
  5. It is ok. If Occupywallstreet disappears. Prepare for it. This brand of experience will grow and the mass mobilizations will become more frequent.

The new people are connecting and networking with each other. They are catching a new “bug” of civic engagement . They have a different strand of the virus then the environmentalist, civil rights, labor, organizers of the past. We all need to welcome them into our tribe of people that work and suffer so others they may never meet have better lives.


VW's Darkside on CO2 Lobbying. Great Greenpeace Campaign!

 

This is very well done. My gut is that it goes viral. Greenpeace has the tempo of campaigns and actions to hook the users and can use this type of creatie campaign to open a relationship with users.

The campaign is

  1. fun & funny
  2. has "an ask"
  3. culturally relevant
  4. creates conversations anong users

Are you in an learning community with Crowd, Light, and Desire. ? Dance on.

 

 

Those of us organizing political power and mobilizing on the web are in a new ecosystem of rapid learning, improvement and experiementation.  Watch, play and experiment if you are not keeping up with the trends you need to find more dance partners.   They don't need to be working on the same issue, in the same country, or even speak the same language.  Watch them. Learn what works. Inspire each other and bring the voice to your own campaigns to organize new voices.  How can we have major campaigns and fights against injustice within our own movements that are not online. NO MORE. Get your work online.  

Dance or digging a water pipe. Go people!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Network-Centric Success? Read the Health Care Campaign Evaluation

AFL-CIO, AFSCME, SEIU, Americans United, Campaign for America’s Future, Campaign for Community Change, Move On, and USAction joined together to build a national coalition whose top priority was health care reform. Dan Cramer of Grassroots Solutions and Tom Novick of M+R Strategic Services (M+R)  provide a fantastic evaluation.

They were able to interview the key players (70) and review all the documents and activities of the campaign.   Evaluation: Executive Summary of Findings and Lessons from the HCAN Campaign | Atlantic Philanthropies

It is a great piece of work. I highly recommend reading it.

What I liked?

What was missing from the report in my opinion?

  • A really good budget breakdown.
  • A deep discussion of the effective field operations. What were the staff structures that worked well?  (in the lessons sections this structure is outlined… local organizers > field coordinator on the ground > regional manager > national field director)  Did other staff configurations work?  where there any flatter states that were effective?  What were the job roles and responsibilities at each level ?
  • How did the reporting mechanisms benefit the field operators and local organizers?  Or was everything a report “up” meaning the reporting was not aligned with the network structure?
  • Where was the coalition blindsided? Why? what parts of the risk was the coalition blind to?
  • The types of actions that were effective at reinforcing the common story, motivating the staff, etc.  The report misses the important “human side” of keeping the network together.
  • The details about the communication grid of the network. What worked and what did not? what did the field staff find most valuable in keeping “in touch”?
  • The online /offline issues need to be explained further. 
    • did capacity building in the states focus in local online engagement capacity or was that portion of the campaign centralized?(as report seems to suggest)
    • What was the key differences in the states that did online and offline coordination well ? Are there characteristics of the states that did not leverage offline that can be identified and addressed in future efforts.
    • Which advertising was most important? 20 million in ads to produce 873,000 calls to congress and 600,000 faxes seems like an all online focus could have been a more productive.
  • What tricks did HCAN do to keep the network management and coordination costs to just 9%?   What is included in that?  How much overhead was absorbed by state and coalition partners?  Did they all break even on the contracted work? Does this set an unrealistic expectation of network building work?  Was the strategy and development part of the overhead or project costs? (Even the evaluation at $170,000 is a tiny % of 47 million dollar campaign. Is it sufficient?)

 

What is worth further discussion?

  • How was trust built in the campaign?
  • How did alignment and common vision discipline get reinforced with partners that were not being funded?
  • Accountability mechanisms and planning.  What were the feedback mechanisms that enabled the network to learn as it operated?  How was reporting enforced?
  • What was the plan to sustain the connectivity in the network after HCAN?  There is discussion of the challenges with sustaining the operations in the field (which is highly unlikely) but there is no discussion of the strategies to maintain the network value over time.
  • Is it at all surprising that any grassroots mobilization this large is not well liked by congressional and administrative staff? (This seems more an indicator of success as the insiders will always feel like they want to control the game)
  • Was the fundraising distributed?  HCAN calls the centralized fundraising a failure but I would expect the distributed nodes to be more effective at that work.
  • Is there any reason to believe the lessons, organizational, campaign and otherwise are scale dependent?   are these lessons only true for really big campaigns or is it fair to say that HCAN is a 47 million dollar network-centric effort demonstrating the complete scalability of lessons that the grassroots leaders have seen play out in a neighborhood campaigns?

 

I increasingly believe that with an intentional plan. Advocacy Networks can be built and directed.  It is essential that the analysis of these networks be completed with an eye toward evaluating the success or failure of the components of network-centric advocacy capacity.


Annie Leonard tells the Story of Stuff. She also describes dependence on networks.

In case it has been a few months since your last peek at the www.StoryofStuff.org let me continue to encourage you to think about the way www.storyofstuff.org is an asset for an entire network of activists.

Watch the interview below to hear about the ways Annie by design has "pushed the power to organize" out to others. 

The resources that Story of Stuff team creates, the stories Annie tells, and the clarity to the vision for so many partners continues to add capacity to a network of allies. Annie's effort is a great example of the ways they are designing to be a network services to a cause. She talks a bit about it as well in the video. 

The story behind 'The Story of Stuff' from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

 


Flash Mob Gone Wrong. What if?

Flashmob gone wrong.

 

 

 

 

This is interesting food for thought  in 5:40 seconds.  We know there have been flash mobs that lead to vandalism and muggings.  We have seen international networks work to rescue people or foster hate crimes. We need to be thinking about the shifting ways people behave , the way people consume information and the complete distortion of time and scale that networks operate on.   How does this change your thinking at the US State Department? How does this change the way you organize as a teacher in Wisconsin?  What does this online and offline mixing mean to groups with 10,000 followers and friends? How do you convert attention to action? How is that engagement ladder changing in a world of flashmobs gone wrong?


Engagement Unpacked and Debated

Gideon Rosenblatt is enjoying “retirement” digging into some important concepts that feed social change.  His riffs are must read content for serious organizers (online and on land). I like his focus on teasing apart the spectrum of “engagement”. I love his work.  I enjoy debating with him via blog post to sharpen my thinking and figure out what he is saying.  These posts are thought provoking. 

Engagement is important to define. However, I don’t think I like the way it is defined here. I don’t like the way he set up the word engagement to be tied to productivity. I also react negatively to the idea that  to the idea …

“The art of engagement centers on knowing when to invest in relationship building and when to tap relationships to get work done.”

In this framework, you are not engaged if you are in a relationship (connection of ideas and discussion) and you are not engaged if you are doing weekly tasks for someone.  It is only engagement by connecting the relationship to tasks.Or as the Church used to say “faith without works is dead”

“Engagement is what brings tasks and relationships together. Engagement is the process of building relationships with people and putting those relationships to work to accomplish some goal.”

In this model, unless we use some really loose definitions of task and relationship then solidarity, alliance, alignment and accompaniment are not engagement. Learning from another (is that a task or transactional?) This definition makes “issue engagement” focus on a defined set of relationships and tasks.  I don’t think that is consistent with my experience.

Getting work done with other people is hard. Getting work done by people that you don’t pay is harder. In this framework, engagement is a proxy for making people work because they like you. Again, I disagree.

It is hard to work with people when you don’t pay them. However, there are lots of reasons for failure outside the relationship/task balance. When you are not paying them, they need to either like the work (you don’t matter) or they like you, or they expect rewards in the future, or the do it because they hate who you are also working against. Are you “engaged” with other people when you are at a rally together but don’t know each other?

Finally, this framework of engagement also seems makes engagement “scarce”.  I am struck that engagement in the model is not regenerative. You “discharge” relationship points to get things done and when you are “broke” of relationships you have no capacity to get tasks done together and still be “engaged”.

Engagement is about promise and entanglement. Like one of captains on Star Trek “Engage”. Engagement comes from the “engagement period”. The groups that are great at engagement are the groups that know how to create promise. These groups entangle their allies together close and far with attention and listening and excitement.  Those that excel at engagement often align people into action but it is important to unpack and tease farther apart failure to effectively “work” an engaged public in a productive direction and the failure to be successful at engagement. 

If you want to build engagement create promise and entangle with your audience (listening, work, learning, accompaniment, campaigns, actions, etc). If you want the engaged group to be productive empower your network leaders to get things done, and invest in the network capacity of the engaged group to share, collaborate, adapt, and act collectively.

Engage.


Connect. Relationship. Engagement. Is that the path?

Turning connections into relationships is the essence of “engagement” and we’ll be covering that (a lot) in future posts. In the end, what it really comes down to is practicing much of what we’ve been taught since we were kids. Engagement and building relationships are about “meeting people halfway”... Both sides have to reach out in order to meet each other. It’s a given-and-get world and the sooner we center ourselves in this relating, the happier and more effective we are – both as individuals and as organizations.
Gideon Rosenblatt is opening up his pen again on networks, connections and engagement. Gideon is one of the really smart people exploring the intersection of network theory and social movements.  I am excited to read more.  Although out of the blocks, I find myself disagreeing with some of his starting thoughts....
Two reactions to his good post...
1. Advocacy networks are not social networks. Social engagement and civic engagement are different beast entirely. If you invest in social networks you get social outcomes. Some social outcomes can be leveraged for advocacy. However, it is totally appropriate for people who have no social ties with each other or any relationship with each other to be able to work together on social agenda. There are people who want to work on climate change that I will never like nor would I ever want to sit down at the dinner table with them. Conversly, I have family members that I love and would bleed for but we do not see eye to eye on a single social issue.
Turning connections to relationships then relationships to engagement might not be the right path. Seeking engagement that is based on connection is the opportunity of our time.

2. I am really interested in the idea that both engagement and relationships are scaling virtually.

I forget where I was reading it but I ran across a quote that kept me thinking. human beings are the only species that can make up arbitrary symbols and give them value. Things like art, currency, neighborhoods, brand names, even the concept of the tribe or nation. We make these up. We make them real. They all evolved from something real and tangible but have unique charateristics that allow us to share , move, exhange and trade them.

Just as if you went back to an early silk trader and offered them some google stock or money deposited into a bank they would think we were trying to rip them off.  Today, I think there is a similar disconnect of relationship with the symbol of relationship. While this seems like a ripoff to those of us that are used to trading silk. symbols of connection among individuals may open up new opportunities to scale relationship and connection to numbers, cluot, voice and value across borders as never before.

We see the beginning of  scaleable human connections now. It may take anther decade or more before we really understand what it means I may take another 10 decades before people actually believe you can be connected to 1 million people do something successful them. However, I don’t see the trend reversing and I feel a lot of optimism about a more connected humanity.


Cultures get what they celebrate!

Clay is on fire. Cultures get what they celebrate! What does your campaign and movement celebrate?  Are you setting up a movement culture that celebrates sharing, collaboration, collective action and trust? Or are you celebrating donations, staff size, media attention and individual credit? What are the metrics you celebrate in movement building? Are those different than when you focus on legislative outcomes?

There are tons of good riffs in his talk and book. Ways we network the movement will directly position (or not position) civic change leaders to leverage these dynamics.  It never happens by accident. In each case it took leaders to build the network, support the network and drive the network to produce.  Usually, they were different leaders and each had different skills and focus.


Oil in the Gulf Widget

I like these tools to help tell the story. This widget misses a few important tweaks that would make it more valuable for both the user and PBS.

1. Sign up for updates on this story. (Name recruitment for PBS). Thank you emails should have links to charities and actions in them.

2. Donate to news coverage of the gulf coast spill. (short video talking about the cost of covering the story)

3.  The logo link to news hour should be all the Gulf spill coverage NOT the homepage.

4. Tell your story of the Gulf like this..link 

5. Watch the Mos Def the Gulf Aid track, 'Ain't My Fault.' http://bit.ly/acApvO#mb

 Oil in the Gulf.


Social Media Campaigns are Data Driven

9 Tips on How To Run (And Not Run) Social Media Campaigns

This is an interesting look into the role data plays in scaling social listening and being attentive to those that you are interested in sustaining the conversations.

View more presentations from Rapleaf.


A Network Haiku. Palin and Discovery. Dark Clouds. Boo. Boo.

Here is an interesting contest of user voice. It generated 1600 Haiku's about Palin getting a million dollars from Discovery. I wonder if twitter and txt culture makes for better Haiku contest?

We thought Discovery Communications' decision to give Sarah Palin a "nature" documentary series about the state of Alaska with a paycheck of a cool $1 million per episode deserved a tongue-lashing.

So we invited you to join us in delivering Discovery an unconventional response. And we've received an overwhelming response, with more than 1,600 haiku submitted by you in just the last week!

Now, we need you to vote for the top haiku.

Friends of the Earth staff have culled through thousands of your haiku to bring you the best of the best. These haiku help show how ridiculous the notion of a Palin "nature" show is.

via action.foe.org


Orgs with email list of under 10,000 grew online revenue by 26% YEAH!

Great service from Convio for sharing this summary and Michael Stein for his work.

There are some really interesting trends in here. What do they tell us about the future?  How do these trends shape the movement? 

  • Online giving grew 14 percent. 69 percent of organizations raised more in 2009 than 2008, while 31 percent saw declines in their online fundraising.
  • 61 percent of all organizations saw their average gift drop in 2009.
  • The average online gift was $80.81,
  • the online revenue per usable email address in 2009 was $11.68.
  • Small organizations grew fastest. Organizations with fewer than 10,000 email addresses on file grew online revenue by 26 percent, and gifts by 32 percent.
  • Email files continued to grow strongly. The total email file grew 27 percent in 2009 to 39,100 constituents.
  • The open rate for email fundraising appeals was 19%.  The click-through rate was 1.7%, down from 2% in 2008.  The overall performance of online fundraising appeals was 0.15%, a slight rise from the year before.
  • Web traffic growth continued for most, but at a slower rate. 60 percent of organizations grew their website traffic from 2008 to 2009. Web traffic growth in 2009 was in the single digits at 6 percent compared with double digit growth seen in previous years.
  • Web traffic was strongly correlated with email file growth. 38 percent of an organization’s success building large email files could be directly attributed to the amount of traffic to the organization’s website.
  • Registration rates dropped. The rate at which organizations converted website visitors to their email file declined to 2.12 percent in 2009.
  • Constituents were more reluctant to open emails and click-through. While open rates for both fundraising appeals and newsletters remained around 20 percent, the click-through rates for both types of online communication declined in 2009.
  • About 7% of online activists also donated money online to the organization they took action with.  Conversely, 8% of online donors also took an online advocacy action with the same organization.

via michaelstein.typepad.com

Growth in small orgs. Growth in those that invest in generating web traffic. Growth in depth of connections with the membership. 



Traffic Flow by Data Points: Look at the pulse of a city.

What is the data you want to see? What is the traffic and transactions in your work that reveal patterns? What do you learn from this as a Taxi driver? Police? Mugger?

What data services and "maps" should we be thinking about as a movement that will inform our organizers, policy people, communications staff and fundraisers? 

What is going on at 3am on Friday?


The Other Side of Network Success. Culture of Adoption

I just read an interesting paper called measuring user influence in Twitter: The Million Follower Fallacy (Miyung Cha , Hamid Hadadi , and Franbrecco Benevito )

The most interesting thing in the article was the theory that the strength of influentials came from two areas...

1. The interpersonal relationship among users. (Which is consistent with work and planning we do in Network-Centric Advocacy)

2. The readiness of society to adopt innovation. (Which is not something I have really focused on in the past)

The first idea is not radical, the idea that relationships among users really dictate the influence of each user. But the second concept, that the "readiness of the society to adopt innovation" is a large driver of the power of influentials, is something worth thinking more about.

You could be the most connected person among a group of stubborn and entrenched individuals and you will have very little influence. You could be a very loosely connected leader among a group of early adaptors and you will have great influence.

This begs the idea of what activities can you do consistently to enhance your networks willingness to adopt innovation. What are the steps you need to plan to drive up the influence of leaders?

Not only do you have to build relationships among the users, but you have to drive up the readiness of the users within that network to adopt to change. Any change.

Network builders must consistently feed this readiness to adapt innovation so that leadership can emerge and leaders and new ideas hold more sway over the overall network.


Day Traders and Campaign Plans

Creation of political will and policy change are an outcome.

Changes in political will and policy are not irreversible. It seems increasingly like they are reverse by courts, new politicians and switching party control that long-term shifts will be increasingly elusive if we stay on our current path.


The key challenges to fostering long-term change which protect policy gains and multiply the power of political will are. 
            A. Generating deep cultural interest in the issues, problems and solutions.
            B. Distributing ownership of the effort to fix the problem.

Short term policy activities that do not secure long-term solutions are not a solution for fixing deep systemic problems.  Passing lots of policy that is far beyond where the culture is ready go begs for backlash, the reversal of political gains and waste organizing effort and resources. Focusing on shifting culture and distributing ownership of the effort to create change secures sustainable gains.

Here are three examples....
1. Gay marriage = Culture has shifted. Political will and policy are tumbling now to align with the culture. In the past gains have been easily rolled back in political and policy context while culture has grown more mature and accepting.

2. Climate Change = policy efforts are far ahead of culture and activism increasing targeted at short term policy gain may or may not be successful but are seriously threatened if they do pass because not enough is being done to "distribute ownership of the effort."  It is currently a very centralized effort focused on political will and policy. 

3. Anti-war movement originally mustered massive amounts of political will but has moved into politics and policy (with the new administration) and abandon effective cultural engagements.

The threat is that with a "friendly' Washington many of the professional activists and policy wonky types are leaping into cashing out political will and pushing for policy gains. However, major progressive efforts are now threatened by three trends.

First, the focus on Washington combined with the economic condition has decimated the cultural movement in the field. More dollars are pushing Washington to move faster and farther on policy. State groups and field organizing activity is decreasing. There are less local organizers creating local context to issues and solutions.  The large culture wind that blew progressive into town is no longer being fanned by stupid moves of our opponents or by our own careful nurturing.

Second, the focus on exact policy, committees and specific frames and legislation pushes the Washington groups with more money and staff to exert targeted control to implement the most aggressive and far reaching solutions they believe they enact immediately. This pushes DC groups to reach farther and "cash in" political will to support very specific positions.   This need for control sucks away local feelings of ownership and engagement and diminishes political will with each step.

Third, the opposition is shut out of Washington policy and political process so they are focused exclusively on culture war out in the field and in the states. The have the potential to organize new support almost unopposed. (rise of the tea party)

These trends drive the pendulum to swing back and forth.

What needs to happen?

These trends open up the opportunity for a disruptive third way to emerge which does not push left or right but one that strictly "pushes"  culture -> political will -> policy.

In order to protect the progress that has been made and to avoid the swings of political will and policy, progressives working on the far reaching campaigns MUST add elements to their current  plans that use each activity to do 2 / 3 things.

  1. How does this current activity (cash out of political will) or policy initiative add to the base? Policy work without base building is a strategy doomed to fail. How does this effort engage new people in new ways?   How does this effort appeal to the 10 minute volunteer, the person watching on TV, how does what we are now doing inspire those that don't care to engage just a bit more? 
  2. How does work "spread ownership"? How are the activities and solutions being distributed so that the field and the states pick up the solutions? How does the energy and activity and messaging become a tool for local activity (in addition to national policy work)?  How does the national work elevate the local energy and demonstrate a clear unified and respectful relationship with solutions owned by others?  How does the policy work and organizing spread "across and up" not "just out and down"?  How do activities create a redundancy in leadership? What are the ways the actions "power the edge" vs. empower the center?
  3. Given the assumptions that standing success for a real movement is cultural, distributed and engages many equal leaders, What activities and investments are being made that add the capacity of many leaders to share, collaborate and harmonize actions with each other? How do these harmonizing efforts help leaders act because they understand the situation (not because they are controlled)? How is each action laying more capacity for a base to collaborate so that the policy work and use of political capital is in sync with the field?

Planning for a Movement

This dynamic and lack of cultural and network perspectives on current campaign teams is a direct threat to the gains we have won in the last 24 months. The short sited "day trader mentality" of the current campaign and DC policy leadership is dangerous for the reasons listed above.


Therefore, at senior levels of strategy and planning we must bring a balance to the drive to "cash in" with the staff of equal authority and responsibility to design plans and campaigns which also meet a long-term goal of distributed base building and solving distributed collaboration.  We must honor the feel for the field and the assessments of leaders at local and state levels in-spite of the fact that DC seems so easy to achieve quick gains and we need to carefully retool major national strategies on the big agenda items to intentionally avoid strategies that are not fundamentally focused on bringing new people to engage in solutions.


Do You Care about Communicating with Each Other?

I was asking the twitterverse about the use of online tools (yammer) and adoption rates and Howard Rheingold flipped back this nugget. 

Latest: RT @hrheingold: "Success depends on ppl involved care about communicating w/ each other" great metric for network building too. via twitter.com

I am inspired to think about lots of the work of network building and creating advocacy networks.  Is it possible to nudge people to care about each other?  What does that mean? Communicating involves exchanges and listening. It involves connection and sharing of ideas and information.

 If you are building a network how do you make it easy to make people "care about communicating with each other"? 

To varying degrees, face to face, meetings, community spaces, get people involved because they lower the "care" threshold among people that might not normally care to communicate with each other. If it takes little effort then I only need to care a little to communicate. If it takes lots of effort to communicate, then I need to care lots.

Do emails, twitter, facebook, status updates etc create "care"?  Do they lower the threshold so much that they are so easy to use that people that don't normally communicate start to chatter? Does that chatter and exchange mean that they "care"? Yes. It does in some way.  

So, the question for the network strategists is to both make it easy to communicate AND increase the reasons that people would want to communicate.  Network building is a mix of building the participants (or leveraging the participants) care for each other  and decreasing the barriers to communication.

To look at the challenges this way, lets unpack how the seven elements of network building fit into those 2 challenges...

Build the participants care for each other...

  • show them how they SHARE VISION
  • build SOCIAL TIES
  • reinforce COMMON LANGUAGE, VALUES and CULTURE
  • LEADERSHIP to weave ties

Decrease the barriers to communication...

  • support a dense COMMUNICATIONS GRID
  • spread a COMMON LANGUAGE
  • capture and share network FEEDBACK
  • LEADERSHIP to maintain the network infrastructure and train participants.

The other network elements complement the network once it is communicating and tied together...

  • SHARED RESOURCES to get things done.
  • LEADERSHIP to drive direction 
Network success depends on getting people to care deeply about communicating, collaborating and acting together with each other. It depends on developing an intentional strategy to increasing "care".


by not having "contol" of brand maybe we become better brands rather than better at spin.

This is an interesting. I like the riff on transparency and the clash that transparency will inspire us to be better as reviewers, readers and brands.  This transparency vs. control and history and trends vs. spin is interesting. 

Echo Creator Khris Loux on the Ties That Bind the Real-Time Web from ReadWriteWeb on Vimeo.


Collaboration Anti-Culture

Here is a great riff on culture and collaboration that resonates with me. It fits with the seven elements of a healthy network and begs the question…. can you manage “culture”? 

Yes. It is possible to establish and set the culture of a group. There are 3 ways to build culture in an organization or network.

1. Leadership- Leadership in culture is very different from leadership in an executive sense. There are leaders that serve others. Leaders that direct and drive. And leaders that focus on process and infrastructure. There are very few people that realize they are controlled or follow culture but most of us are sheep grazing on pastures of culture.  The culture sets the terms of acceptability (you know the day you square danced or moon walked).  Leadership in a culture is not being a boss but leading in vision or service. Leadership is also exerted by those that see the culture and shape it by weaving parts of it together or drive wedges in the cracks. 

2. Language – A culture can not emerge without commonalities. Common vision, common stories and common language. Words, pictures, music, stories that unify and define “who is in” and “who is out”. Just because you participate or you are there doesn’t mean you are part of the culture. Wolf Blitzer is not really part of twitter culture but he uses twitter. His story, images, process and language don’t fit the culture.

3. Lines – Common channels, common lines of communications, a capacity to collaborate, share and synchronize. The ability to connect and reconnect in new ways. You can not evolve an art culture without venues, unify a culture without the ability to interact in some ways.  A collaborative culture is build on the capacity to communicate and share experiences.

These create a culture and are part of mix of challenges network strategies address.

Culture is really important for collaboration technology to work in a group or organization. If the culture isn't right, "collaboration" as a human process expressed through various communication and collaboration technologies can't take root. I met with a new client earlier this week to talk about a senior management attempt to encourage "collaboration"….

Michael Sampson: Currents: Collaboration Anti-Culture: Can It Get Any Worse?


Twitter Cofounder Jack Dorsey On Using Twitter For Social Change

This is in line with the training work we have been doing on twitter for activists.  The power of Twitter comes from 3 sources for activists.

  1. The ability to instantly connect people who don’t know each other but care about an issue, event or action. (#hashtags)
  2. The ability to set up a group of trusted people and connect them even if they are not in front of computer but not tight enough to share cell phone numbers with each other. (lobby days, coordinating action etc.)
  3. The ability to scale up your listening, broaden your radar and listen to people you don’t normally get to listen to so regularly. (Micah Sifry is one of the smartest and well connected activist … who does he follow? Follow them directly.http://twitter.com/Mlsif/following) and now his lists…http://twitter.com/Mlsif/techpolitics

 

Jack Dorsey nails it… Good Huffington Post Interview…

Impact: How can people use Twitter more effectively for social change?

JD: I think the biggest thing is supporting each individual update more, getting away from [Twitter] being a social network and focusing on individual tweets, so that you can create a whole movement from that. Right now we have the hashtag, which was invented by our users, but it's still a little bit cumbersome. But we've seen that tool have a dramatic effect on how people organize and it serves a particular event or a particular moment and then disperses when it's no longer necessary. Or, the hashtag becomes a full-fledged Twitter account which people can follow permanently. I think making that transition [to concentrate on the value of individual tweets] in an easy way would be very, very helpful.

Twitter Cofounder Jack Dorsey On Using Twitter For Social Change


John Kao: Innovation Nation meets Nonprofit Networks

I really thought this was a good presentation on innovation process and practice.  I like how it resonates on personal experience level and how it bumps up against the network design issues and the paradoxes of building network power and performance to create intentional change.

First, the discussion fits well with the type of work I do with partners.  It is interesting to see John focus on the conceptual clarity and need to ask and queue up the right questions.   Partners often balk at the really important part of the work that is focused on syncing up the network vision and our efforts with the current contexts and realities that are buffering and shaping the context.

Second, this presentation bumps into the system and process questions at the network level. What systems do we have in place that actually DESTROY innovation at scale across groups and in an issue and advocacy network ? How can networks innovate? How can networks be supported in innovation process? I find it interesting that John limits this conversation and thinking (national or organizational level) to centralized planners and individual examples.  John provides the right process (everyone knows the process, set of practices that work well, leads to value) but how does it scale to a distributed innovation by a network of allied activists?  

How does a movement of 50 years get to a "beginners mind"? How do set process of leaders, foundations, donors and the most accomplished advocates ask new questions and direct the jazz band of change by adopting the Miles Davis "don't say to much" leadership?

Thanks to Momentum for posting the videos.

Facebook as a Financial Platform?

There are big changes going on at facebook that will reshape the ways nonprofits will be able to use and leverage the platform.  The biggest of these changes is the launch of some “gift” tools for your social network. These changes seem little at first “who cares if you can buy a song for a friend” but anyone that watched ITunes, Skype, Amazon and online donations scale up realizes that getting people to cough up credit card for credits is the biggest hurdle in ultimately freeing people from money.

The more that facebook users get used to buying little bits of things online, using their credits, and making transactions online the easier it will be to help them convert facebook relationships into channels for sending money to your charity and campaign.

I expect online donations to charities and groups with “pages” will grow proportionally with the amount of total exchanges on facebook. So seeing them add features like the new “buy a song” for a friend will be a big boost to those of us that look to facebook as a space for organizing relationships with people that use if like the way traditional users focused on their inbox.

While you can currently purchase gifts from non-profits, like Kiva, Project Red, TOMS Shoes, Charity Water and the World Wildlife Fund, Facebook is now also including gifts via the Causes application. So you can make donations to a cause as a gift for your friends for pretty much any cause supported through the app.

Facebook’s Gift Shop Sings A New Tune


Sean Parker: Twitter/Facebook Will Soon Dominate The Web — Not Google.

This resonates with Clay Shirky, Beth Kanter and a bunch of riffs here on network-centric advocacy.  Connecting people is taking over as the major service of the web.    Newspapers provided information. Advocacy groups exist to connect people to each other. Connecting people with more than just text is the big leap. Connect people with voice, video and images. Connecting people to work, laugh, collaborate and create change is the golden opportunity of the next 10 years.

 

Parker believes we’re shifting from the first phase of the Internet, which was dominated by what he calls “information services” These are companies like Google and Yahoo. But next up to dominate the web will be the “network services” like Facebook and Twitter, he believes.

To be clear, he thinks Google will stay huge and relevant, but it’s dominance will go down because collecting data is less valuable than connecting people, he said.

He went on to talk a bit about the social networking space, which is significant because he helped found Facebook.

Sean Parker: Twitter/Facebook Will Soon Dominate The Web — Not Google.

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Benkler Channel: Remove the Planner without removing the capacity to plan.

Benkler is amazing.  He says things that most of us spend time trying to argue. Complexity and Reach make planning impossible. (BOOM) It always has been but now it is more clear and more important to accept (BOOM). (min 20+...he is on fire)

This is a really rich talk with important nods to the role of motivated people, fairness and group identity in these network models. I see his work as much less related to workplace economics and more related to advocacy and social planning.

I still see the reflection of the seven elements of network functionality in his work. I really like the idea that common language and negotiating "fairness" in the network are linked.

"Life is to complex to settle on the simple model".  He is going after the economic tracking and design model for assessing output capacity and deviation without a centralized planner. Congratulations!  

The rest of us should be working on this in climate change work, agriculture policy, health reform, and the rest of the progressive agenda.


God's Eye View. Replace Folk Wisdom with Data

Games that generate data and change behavior.  Alex Pentland is not only thinking about network behavior but starting to look at it and measure it.  He looks at the "fabric of communication" beyond language that we used to coordinate and communicate for all those years before language developed.  This is a really interesting riff and quick introduction to the concepts in his book.



Healthcare little pulse on Facebook: Where is the campaign?

This is a chart of the number of walls that talk about health care in Facebook.

It is surprising that there is so little change over the last several months. If the progressives are actually going to influence the undecided on health care they need to find a way to enable people to bring health care battle out into these edge networks. The movement of people that were behind Obama are not carrying his message on health care into their social networks. It looks like there was more chatter about health care before the election.

The campaign to spread that message on health care is too centralized in the administration. And merely tracking the amount of chatter on the issue demonstrates that it has moved to an inside the Beltway issue.

For each policy initiative the White House needs to make sure that the talking points and facts are presented in a way that they are viral and encourage people who want to spread the to date and clarity on the issues to take these facts into their social networks.

 


Social Movements are Self-Serve

I have been thinking about the differences between between supporting a campaign and supporting a movement. Is there a difference? Is it in the leadership or vision or direction? Is it in the approach?  How is the environmental movement different from the campaign on toxics?  If your job is to support a movement, how is that different from campaign planning?  Is it possible to think of design goals and challenges to supporting a social movement?

Campaigns focus on creating targeted change and encouraging others to work on the pressure points someone has identified and that someone has figured out the messaging on. Social movements are really about many campaigns and many messages.

Campaigns are “serve me”. Social movements are self-serve. 

In a movement, you need to support leaders and scale by working to attract more people into leadership.  In a campaign, the leadership is known and others opinions on the campaign direction are just a distraction.

It is interesting because that distinction plays out the entire strategy on how you deploy the limited resources you have to make a big difference.  If you are campaigning, you need to be directive, manage your resources and control each investment to move the campaign along a known trajectory.   People within a movement run campaigns. However, if you are building a movement, invest in lowering barriers to participation, invest in viral training, invest in peer to peer connections, invest in tools and services that are self-serve and therefore scalable.

Building self-serve systems requires a completely different design.

We have self-serve banking, appointment scheduling, health-care, self-serve ticketing from airlines, self-serve gasoline, checking bags, shipping, customer support, etc.etc.  Self-serve movements can use these same guidelines for self-serve design to help our thinking about movements. This reading made me really think hard about the campaigns that do this and those that don’t:

Rule #1 Provide a Benefit to Customers

Rule #2 Make Transactions Intuitive

Rule #3 Show Customers What to Do

Rule #4 Choose the Right Locations

Rule #5 Beware of Legacy Systems

Rule #6 Take a Test-Drive

Democracy and  Human Rights to Kiva, DonorsChoose, NPR, Alex’s Lemonade Stand… Movement Approach.  Are you investing in a way that supports the growth of a self-serve movement ? Or are you putting money into campaigns? Both are fine but we to often confuse investing in campaigns as part of movement building.


Shifting the Costs of Organizing to the Community

This riff is interesting. It raises further questions about the inefficiencies arising in the current way that we organize.  The cost of organizing shifting heavily onto those organized.

Political organizing is inefficient to the end user.  They give us support for one issue ..like save polar bears and then the “good organizer” uses the political engagement on the polar bear by extension to advocate for all endangered species work.   You like the GOP stand on the 2nd amendment, next thing you know you are part of a “political base” being leveraged to fight against health care or expected to ignore human rights abuse.  You support a charity as it works with the poor and then hear your numbers counted among the millions against gay marriage.  Parties and institutions have leveraged political capital worse than the wall street traders playing with mortgages. Lackoff, American Environics and others continually point to the complexity of people’s opinions on issues but they are not pointing to the huge institutional interest in convoluting and working to cluster people unnaturally. 

Organizers do this everyday. They leverage past organizing to appear more organized on current issues and to pretend they have proxies to engage in anything centralized leaders and experts believe in-line with group brands.

Markets and networks will continue to squeeze these “inefficiencies” out of our system of organizing.  Information transparency will expose more of this cycle. Additionally, one-off campaigns and adhoc campaigns will demonstrate that they can assemble resources quickly and make a difference (Actblue, Donors Choose, Kiva, Microvolunteering, petition site,  etc.) The “build your own” model to engagement will evolve and eat away at the need to give “vouchers” to let others speak for you.  We will see a flip-flop of political weights.  It used to be that the size of the groups engaged base was what was more important and that these groups of joiners represented the “super-engaged” and the hardened activists. It will ultimately, be that the groups become the repositories for the lazy activists that would rather trusts a brand while the super engaged will actively shop, engage and focus on a variety of issues without needing to sacrifice clarity that is always much more complex then what our groups can represent.   Why will this happen? Because the costs of organizing has now shifted onto the end user AND the most valuable  connections you will respond to come form friends that you have relationships with.

 

Costs Have Shifted to the Consumer

The shift that has occurred is that the relevant costs to the recipient are now the dominant ones. If you think about sending out mail ten or twenty years ago, the cost was twenty five cents, which the sender had to pay. The intelligence used to sit on the side of the sender, for instance, Capital One carefully figuring out whom to target. But, with electronic communication, the costs have shifted to the recipient, our time, our attention, our cost to deal with the interruptions. My belief is that it’s not primarily a technology play, but it’s primarily a people play where people provide metadata, data where they predict how important their communication is for you, and then a model negotiates, over time. Given their reputation, how much you should be interrupted and whether given the situation you are in, which of course you devise measures much more finely than ever before, you should be interrupted or not.

people & data » featured

 

With communication being free and instantaneous, attention is increasingly scarce. Economics is the science of scarcity. So, that’s why we need to develop an economic model of communication. Before, scarcity was on the side of the senders (time, money). It was impossible for firms to communicate effectively with large numbers of people at once, and communication/coordination between customers was even more difficult.  There was no way for an individual to effectively reach a broad audience beyond a very limited radius.  But the communication revolution has brought about many changes.  At first glance, this seemed to be great for companies—it’s now almost free to bury customers in ad campaigns!  However, now that the scarcity has shifted to the recipients (time, attention), communication needs to go beyond transactions and move to relationships. In fact, the value of relationships is greater than the value of transactions.


Customer Feedback Meets Ideas for Netroots Nation

image 

Customer Feedback & Ideas for Netroots Nation

Netroots conference using UserVoice to sort questions from the large audience. It will be interesting to see how the questions that emerge are very much like or dislike the questions professional reporters would ask.


Vontoo: Calling My Campaign

I will be using this asap. The power of voice and phone connected with the web.  I can see a few options from phone bank reminders to a small event, reminders for house parties for everyone in a zip from the database, etc.  It is just another way to leap content and organizing across divides.

Vontoo is a market-leading provider of automated voice messaging solutions. Our robust and flexible product offerings allow organizations of all sizes to leverage the power of voice in order to build brands, drive revenues, increase operational efficiencies and solve complex communication challenges.

When it comes to communication, nothing can compare to the power, excitement and authenticity of the human voice. Vontoo was founded with a clear mandate - to bring the power of voice marketing and communication to organizations eager to leverage its seemingly endless capabilities.

Vontoo


Web2.0 meets listserve? This is an embeddable discussion thread?

This is interesting.  It is a discussion thread that can be ported and embedded around the web.  It could have a nice potential for advocacy groups and creating collaboration and collective action between communities.  It would need a few changes to be one of the “killer” apps for those of us in the nonprofit community.

1. Data tracking and ownership. If I embed it in my site (open site)  I get a copy of the names and data of the people who post from my site (build out data and interest in my salesforce tracking of those people).

2. Data sharing. I can agree that the original person who set up the thread also gets a copy of the data like a PTa or Cancer survivor forum with data going to local group and livestrong (then it becomes a viral organizing tool spreading content and collecting data).

3. Full email integration. If someone posts to a topic I have commented on I get sent an email AND I can respond via email without going online. A copy of my reply goes into the online forum (stay in your inbox or on blackberry).

4. Secure hand off. My website  (from a closed community like Ning or a Drupal site) can allow my logged in people to post without signing in again or needing to go online with everyone who is not logged in getting the post via email.

5. Ad free version.

 

I sent some emails to the developers. This looks interesting make sure you play.

 


Associated Knowledge: Honest Signals in Music

We evolved for a few million years before developing language and another chunk of time before we started developing text and the written word. We are hardwired as a social animal just like ants, bees and monkeys. What are those threads that speak to all of us at that deeper level? Bobby McFerrin shows one of them here.  

As we do communications efforts on campaigns, we need to think carefully about ALL the channels we use to connect and listen to our audience. Most of our issue movements don’t do enough work to organize art, music and image that resonate and harmonize us with our supporters.  (This video made me think of all the art in the Obama campaign or the image masters form the early part of the Bush years.) 

Campaigns, organizers and communications strategy need to make use of art, image and music to slip under the fences that people build in their perceptions. I want to see those campaigns that use the image to frame.  i would like to see art and professional photographers talk about the influence of good art on a campaign.

Great video from World Science Festival link from Associated Knowledge

World Science Festival 2009: Bobby McFerrin Demonstrates the Power of the Pentatonic Scale from World Science Festival on Vimeo.


TargetSpot Internet Radio Advertising

Has anyone used this in campaign and issue work yet?   I would like to see the sympathetic music linked to issue ads to see if they produce any results. I am a big user of  Pandora and I like the idea of seeing country songs about healthcare and cancer and dying linked to Health care reform campaign etc.  Music is so powerful, I have to imaging that linking some songs to issue work has to be effective.

What is TargetSpot?

TargetSpot is the first end to end advertising platform and marketplace designed specifically for internet radio.

Advertisers use TargetSpot's award-winning platform to reach and target internet radio listeners with high-impact audio and video advertising. Traditional and web-only broadcasters alike turn to TargetSpot for its unique ability to support the growth of their streaming products and audience through its innovative advertising technology.

Since launch in 2007, TargetSpot has received numerous awards and recognition, including Always On's "Always On Media 100," Inside Radio's "Seven Changing Radio Now" and Radio-Info.com's "Radio's Innovators".

TargetSpot Internet Radio Advertising : About Us


Learning from Smart Bacteria: Quorum Call for the Action

Smart networks of bacteria wait for "triggers" and feedback to tell them when to act collaboratively and mulit-cellular collective action. Bacteria have a few million years of evolution on collective action planning. If our species, campaigns and social events thrive on these same conditions of signaling then we need to make sure that we encourage constant "quorum testing" across our base. It is not donations.

We need to look at common channels across our movements and among our base so that we can trigger movement action.

Our strategy of control and managing people in silos and isolation doesn't create power it jams our quorum sensing on political will for change.

Great and thought provoking talk on many levels.

Bonnie Bassler on how bacteria "talk" | Video on TED.com.
Bonnie Bassler discovered that bacteria "talk" to each other, using a chemical language that lets them coordinate defense and mount attacks. The find has stunning implications for medicine, industry -- and our understanding of ourselves

Problems Campaigns Face: Riffing from PDF

We are in a unique moment of people organizing. At this time, our culture becomes both increasingly tied together and fragmented (danah boyd). Organizers dreamed for years to be able to reach millions of people (YouTube) and they pined for the day thousands of allies could collaborate in synchronizing efforts (Iranelection ish) to agitate for change of culture, industry or policy.

Now we sit in among vast networks of supporters, allies, friendsters and professionals (1000+ at PDF) as committed to our issues as we are, but working together alludes us. change remains just out of reach.

We know much about campaign planning (spitfire strategies) and communications strategy but the underlying alignment mechanisms for marshalling and managing the power in campaigns have shifted beneath our feet (who is momsrising…go Roz!). We are transitioning from an organizational-centric world dominated by good management, ownership, hierarchies and “the firm”  to a network-centric world driven by leadership, transparency, reach and sharing (Ny311, government spending dashboard).

Leaders in broadcasting (newspaper) are being replaced by those focused on creating connections (craigslist). Both will always exist, but there is no doubt networks and network organizing represents a transformative trend.

Today, as movements organize they need a mix of both traditional campaign and communications strategy coupled with network strategy. (Obama)

Common Problems that Many Campaigns Face.

Experience demonstrates that these strategies are less effective without complementing each other. (Gates on education ) The interplay of campaign, communications and network capacities influence the planning implementation and success of each.

Coalitions, collections of groups, and crowds of people often lack the clear vision, campaign objectives and communications plans (PDF…although Sunlight stuff is a nice direction) that help identify the critical networks for further engagement, direction and collaboration. However, even when like minded and allied leaders can agree to connect and collaborate without a unified vision the emergent networks rarely develop the functionally collaborating infrastructure (Green Group) so that the participants can self-organize a clear vision, campaign objectives and subsequently develop campaign and communications plans.

In both scenarios, the coalition without clear objectives and the campaign without the functional network, basic levels of network infrastructure are needed to move forward. However, time after time organizers get stuck with little budget and no plan to solve the fundamental dysfunction in the networks the campaign depends on to achieve success.

The lack of budget and plan stems from a mix of both planning and management issues. There is often an unspoken lack of trust of the base and an unwillingness to trust allies. Yet, there is little investment in the systems that would build performance of far flung collaborative team ( fostering trust in the base).

Organizers that don't trust people to be as committed as themselves therefore design processes to get mild users to support the most committed rather than to actually engage and work effectively with the many-many-many less committed activists. There is a lack of diversity in the "committed base" and most effort is focused on recruiting a more diverse set of people into the same mindset rather than diversifying the agenda and the definition of what the movement is committed to achieve. Many leaders are oddly proud to be disconnected from trends in culture, communication and technology.(not at PDF)

The combined effects of these management biases and systemic gaps create a mess and complete lack of alignment between objectives, organizing, revenue plans, budgets, vision, communications, network organizing and technology plans. The resulting tossed salad of tech tools duct taped onto an organizing effort with no intention of listening, learning, serving and adapting makes a mockery of bottoms-up ownership. (thinking PickensPlan Ning)

On the planning side, many groups have even acknowledged that they are now entering a phase of network building, “taking a network approach” or that they are dependent on networks to create change but when pushed they have no framework for even discussing why, how or what are the elements that make an advocacy network functional.

Unfortunately, groups have no process or limited capacity to identify these conflicts and gaps. As organizers, they have limited experience bridging bottoms up discussions with mangers, funders, planners. Their is not enough circulation of the stories and theories of change that could realign the policy, network and communications activities.

Organizers and tech builders don’t have the materials, work process to help staff better understand organizing in the age connectivity and what is developed by foundations is disregarded and by consultants is trademarked.

We can look at all the pretty tools and see all the activity (online and off) but until the network builders and technologists explain the shift in logic that occurs to more of the organizers embedded across our movement most of us agitating for change will remain as we were only with better websites. 

I had a blast in NYC at PDF.  It was great to take time to step back and look at the broader trends and the ways those trends influence work at Green Media Toolshed and the training I do with Netcentric Campaigns. These events like PDF make me realize how fast the technology is moving in shifting the logic and thinking of the technology leaders and the gap that is emerging between that edge and traditional organizers and current leaders of organizations.

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YouTube Stats from PDF

This came via email from PDF. It is a statistic that I use in presentations.  According to this the YouTube network is more active than I have been giving it credit for:

currently pouring onto YouTube alone — about 200,000 three-minute videos added every day — is the equivalent of 385 always-on TV channels. In July 2008 in the United States, approximately 91 million viewers looked at nearly 5 billion videos on YouTube.

Amazing. This can only be organized by the network of viewers filter those 200,000 videos. 

I am looking forward to PDF this year.


More Network Wisdom from Shack/Slum Dwellers International

I continue to be amazed at the depth of network rituals developed by SDI. In a context of little resources SDInet has made the operation form the ground up based on principals that are very network-centric.  If you look, there are elements of all the key components of the network in the “Rituals”.  Here is an example of network culture, network vision, communication grid, social ties building, management of shared resources, leadership building, and feedback in one program area. 

From their website..

Horizontal exchange, then, is the primary learning strategy of SDI. Participants within the savings networks learn best from each other - when one savings group has initiated a successful income-generating project or has replanned a settlement or has built a toilet block, SDI enables groups to come together and learn from intra-network achievements. The community exchange process builds upon the logic of 'doing is knowing' and helps to develop a collective vision. As savers travel from Khayelitsha to Greenpoint or Nairobi to Colombo, the network is unified and strengthened - not only at a street level but between towns, regions and provinces, and nation-states. In this way, locally appropriate ideas get transfered into the global millieu through dialogue amongst slumdweller partners.

Community-to-community exchanges allow participants to see themselves and their peers as experts, thereby breaking isolation to create a unified voice of the urban poor, reclaiming sites of knowledge that have frequently been co-opted by professionals, and strengthening solidarity to increase critical mass. The pool of knowledge generated through exchange programmes becomes a collective asset of the SDI network - so that when slumdwellers meet with external actors to debate development policies, they can draw from international examples, forcing government and other stakeholders to listen.

Shack/Slum Dwellers International


Google Flu Trends

This is interesting. Google Flu tracks symptom searches for flu and normalizes it over all searches. Google Flu shows past years too.

The entire US curve is still pretty consistent with past years.

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Mexico is showing an uptick that is different from other years.

image

Texas is showing the same trend as Mexico.

image 

Google Flu Trends