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Part 2 strategic frameworks


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What kinds of frameworks can make the development of strategy easier and more effective?

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Part 2 strategic frameworks

  1. 1. Wave Your Hand, Fan the Flame Strategic Frameworks Tools for Creating a Specific Change Strategy Over the decades of the expanding advocacy effort by our communities, we have become more professional in our approach to creating change. Primarily, this has been through improving our implementation of change tactics, and by mapping change plans to operational frameworks like logic models. While these changes in our approach have improved achievement of outcomes, we have reduced the scope of what we think are useful outcomes: ● Tactics require very specific and detailed planning to be effective ● Operational planning requires a specific framework and coordination of the threads of the plan to be effective ● While we tend to think that outcome focus and detailed development of the plan and tactics are the only things we are doing to improve our results, we also reduce the scope and potential impact of our change plans in order to make it easier to detail and coordinate our work toward outcomes. The traditional way to avoid this reduction in scope and impact is to
  2. 2. build a strategy within which our operational plans and tactics make sense. But the concept of strategy in social change has been watered down and misused, resulting in strategy becoming a useless concept. Today’s presentation is aimed at understanding different frameworks that you can use in developing a real change strategy.
  3. 3. Wave Your Hand, Fan the Flame Part 2: Strategic Frameworks If it was easy to create and use a change strategy, we wouldn’t need to change anything; those changes would have already happened. There are a lot of ways to think about creating a strategy. Most strategic frameworks are aimed at doing just that. But, most strategic frameworks were created either for military or business purposes, and are cludgy for use in social justice. This presentation will cover some frameworks I have run across over the years that I believe can be used successfully to support building an effective social justice change strategy. Having said that, there is no “7 steps to a successful change strategy” technique. Our change work is focused on very complex systems within very complex networks. Generally, an organization that chooses to focus on a particular change target does so because the organization has a deep relationship with those persons affected by the target’s discrimination and disempowering behavior. Such deep and largely implicit connection with values like
  4. 4. self-determination and autonomy can be very effective in pursuing social justice change, but the values don’t dictate the strategy. We have to mesh our energy for the mission with an understanding of our target system. That requires real work and not dependence on some “silver bullet” method for achieving a plan outcome. My suggestion is that you pick one of these frameworks that you find interesting for whatever reason, and learn more about it from the resources focused on that framework. Our interest in, or fascination with, a framework can reflect some resonance between us, our implicit connections to the issues with which we struggle, and the language or concepts of the framework.
  5. 5. Wave Your Hand, Fan the Flame Open and Closed Approaches to Targets When thinking about a system as a target of change effort, there are only two ways to view that target. Christopher Alexander calls them Type A and Type B in reference to architecture, but this basic way of seeing systems arises in many contexts. I think the most useful way of describing the two in a change context is to view the target system as open (Type A) or closed (Type B). Viewing a target system as Type B (closed) is viewing it as though it were a casino game, let’s say Blackjack. While you can’t predict which cards will show up in any single hand, you know that there are only 52 cards. The closed nature of the deck means that you can count cards and build a model of how the hands will play out, at least over time. The same kind of closed view of a target system means that your change planning only includes a limited number of future possibilities. This means that an operational plan can assume that
  6. 6. only certain possible responses to a specific change initiative can occur. Since our target systems are almost never closed, we are commonly surprised by the outcomes of our work, by the unintended consequences of our actions. In general, we are less surprised by unanticipated results if our focus is on the short term and the outcomes we seek have little system-level impact on the target. Real target systems are open, which is to say, they are affected by the environment in which they operate (including us). When we do something to change a target, we are not just dealing with the target’s innards; we are also dealing with all the target’s interactions with the rest of the world. As much as targets (especially bureaucracies) would like to believe that they are in control of the way the world affects them (perhaps using the laws, policies, and rules that govern their organization as defense against change), they are not, especially over the medium to long term. Change strategies that don’t respect this reality will find significant difficulty in producing longer term change. In effect, keeping our change efforts focused on the short term reinforces the target’s bureaucratic defenses, making them more effective. The laws, policies, and rules that govern any target are a closed system (albeit one full of ambiguities, and unanswered questions) and can’t protect the target system from environmentally forced change. Our change strategies must respect the actual openness of our targets if those strategies are to be effective.
  7. 7. Wave Your Hand, Fan the Flame Closed Systems When you view a target system through the lens of closed systems, you feel comfortable ignoring any changes that might happen to the system beyond the ones you want to cause. To take the example from the previous slide, consider using card counting to manage or change your luck at Blackjack. While there is clearly chance involved in the outcome, you can use card counting because the deck in the game has 52 predictable cards even if you can’t know ahead of time which cards will turn up in a particular hand. Suppose that in the course of a game of blackjack, entirely new cards could be invented unpredictably and introduced into a hand. These cards could have any numerical value and could be unrelated to the standard ranking and value system If this happened, you could still use card counting but it would be far less effective. In a book called the Craft of Power, Siu introduced a similar distinction in defining a game called Chinese Baseball. This game was just like the American version except that when the ball was in
  8. 8. the air, anyone could move the bases any place they wanted. A closed view of a target system ignores the possibility of contextual change, which is the same as ignoring the environment of a target or the impact of the environment on the target aside from our change effort. Techniques of change typically ignore the environment (i.e., “7 steps to producing systems change”), as do operational plans and logic models.
  9. 9. Wave Your Hand, Fan the Flame Open Systems When you view a target system through the lens of Openness, you accept that the environment of the target must be part of your change framework. Accepting the context of your target as an important player in your change strategy means that you won’t be making an abstract long term plan that you mechanically implement, step by step. Instead your strategy will require you to do something more like moving through your house at night in the dark. You have to be careful even though you know the house well. You have to check to see if you actually got where you wanted to go. You will move part of the way through the house, and make sure you got where you wanted to get, and then you will make your next move and check again. Making moves this way is called iteration (do it, then do it again, then again). Using iteration as a way of implementing your change strategy allows you to adjust (adapt) your effort to what you have discovered about your target and any changes it has experienced
  10. 10. while you were implementing your strategy. Often implementing your change effort in this way allows you and your target to adapt to each other, making your effort a better match to the target. Always keep Openness in mind as you develop your strategy and enact your actions to change the target. Using a Closed approach will undermine your effectiveness at change. Resources: How to intervene in a complex system
  11. 11. Wave Your Hand, Fan the Flame Autopoiesis Imagine that you stick yourself with a pin. You might say, “The pin hurt me.” Of course we know the pin didn’t produce the pain we feel. When we say the pin caused the pain, it is with the understanding that it is our brain that created the pain. The brain caused (created) the pain, the pin caused (triggered) the brain to create the unpleasant sensation. Most of the time, in our lives, this distinction doesn’t mean much. There is no real difference in thinking that the pin caused the pain and remembering that it was the brain that actually created the pain. But this distinction is the reason why autopoiesis (self- creation) is important when we are trying to change a target. In developing and using Change Strategies, we must understand that our target will create the meaning for our tactics, not us. Our ideas of what kind of change our tactics should produce when used against a target are generally wrong in some way. When we have a long-standing relationship in changing a target, it will be easier for
  12. 12. us to judge how the target will create the meaning of what we do to change them. This framework should be part of all your change work. The most common mistake advocates make is to believe that their change tactics will produce only the change advocates think they should produce. Often, the change that actually occurs is different from what we hoped for, and there are often unintended consequences of our change efforts that we do not anticipate. We wrongly assume that the intention of our change tactic is the only important driver of what can take place. Let’s do a thought experiment. Let’s suppose that the pain we felt when we were stuck with the pin was the first time we ever felt pain. So, what kind of strategy might we use to prevent pain in the future? Maybe we would pass a law that said that pins were illegal. We would quickly find out that there were many things that could trigger pain, and that it is impractical to outlaw all of them. Also, since pins are economically useful, a black market in pins would develop, so that there would still be people experiencing pain because they were stuck with a pin. Maybe we would create a war on pins to destroy the black market. We all know how successful that would be. Although this example is frivolous, it “points” out the risks of thinking that your meanings are universal, and that your target will react to your change effort the way you want the system to react. Resources: Autopoiesis for Beginners
  13. 13. Wave Your Hand, Fan the Flame Anticipation vs. Prediction From my previous statements about future uncertainty, you might assume that we can’t produce anything useful by trying to foresee what we will face in the future. That isn’t true. Prediction is not the only way we can make use of our knowledge to guide our strategy, operational plans, and tactics. Some of the frameworks I discuss later in this presentation deal with this issue directly, but, for now, let’s look at the distinction between prediction and anticipation. Prediction produces a single causal change from what there is now to the predicted future. Prediction assumes a lot of knowledge about how the future will evolve. In closed systems (like casino games), prediction is usually described as statistical-there is such and such a chance of a particular value card showing up in this hand. Over time, statistical prediction is pretty accurate-in closed systems. In open systems, prediction only works over a very short term-the shortness of the time frame of the prediction depends on how complex or chaotic the target system is.
  14. 14. Anticipation takes a broader view of the target’s possible evolution, and is based on all the information and experience you have about the target (and your own abilities to respond to change). Effective anticipation requires that your change group or organization develop flexibility of response while you actively try to change the target. In turn, flexibility in your organization is a strategic choice. You choose to have overlap in staff capability rather than super efficiency in the division of staff work. You choose to pursue funds that overlap the parts of your mission rather than trying to separate each funding stream into equally separate outcomes. Anticipation allows effective use of iterative, adaptive change tactics, permitting the gaining of knowledge about the target system during the implementation of the strategy, to allow better matching of strategy to target dynamics. In general, the less you know about the future of yourself and your target, the more you should use anticipation and the less you should use prediction in your planning and execution. Also, the less you can predict about the future, the more important strategy becomes. Precarious Lives, Democracy and ‘Affective Politics’ “It is in the admission of ignorance and the admission of uncertainty that there is a hope for the continuous motion of human beings in some direction that doesn't get confined, permanently blocked, as it has so many times before in various periods in the history.” - Richard P. Feynman
  15. 15. Wave Your Hand, Fan the Flame Grand Strategy Your grand strategy, whether you ever make it explicit or not, is the set of values that grounds and organizes your approach to wanting change and making it. Those values always include contradictions. (For example, the most common contradiction in the grand strategy of disability rights is between creating protection and supporting personal autonomy.) In creating strategy, operational plans, and tactics, these abstract contradictions will frame the boundaries of your struggle to achieve not just change, but meaningful change. Jumping to tactics based on your intuition of the need for change, which is the most common way advocacy organizations make these choices, will fail to appreciate the struggle between the opposites in our value systems and produce unintended consequences, and the consequent useless effort to defend our change effort despite those unintended consequences. Because these values are more implicit than explicit, it takes effort, both personal and in your advocacy community, to surface the struggle around your ultimate values and learn something from that dialogue. The best conceptual framework for surfacing and
  16. 16. struggling directly with those abstract contradictions is Scott Kelso’s notion that abstract contradictions are real processes that can have complementary relationships in addition to opposed ones. There is nothing automatic about this change from opposition to complement, and aphorisms like, “and, not or”, and similar attempts to discard the complexity of our values, don’t cut it. It always requires struggle to move an abstraction back into an actuality. That unavoidable requirement for struggle is why people choose to live as though their abstractions were reality. In the wider world, there are four levels of framing, managing, and executing strategy: ● Grand Strategy: What ultimate values you and your organization bring to the development of change strategy, operational plans, and tactics ● Strategy: The framework you use in advocating change to deal with the unpredictability of the future and your scarcity of resources ● Operations: The plans that you use to produce measurable outcomes that are consistent with your strategy. Such plans are only effective within some timeframe that reflects how quickly your target (and your organization) change. ● Tactics: The concrete actions to alter your target; tactics have a beginning and an end and can be judged in terms of their success by reference to their projected outcomes. Tactics are very short term. The Art of Advocacy lies in integrating these frameworks, learning from your errors and mistakes, and seeing your work through to real change by adapting as you go. The Grand Strategy To Cast Off the Corporate State Strategic Thinking & Global Health: The Case of Agent Orange & Public Health in Vietnam
  17. 17. Wave Your Hand, Fan the Flame Wayfinding and Sense Making As we will discuss later, plans and procedures are useful in ordered change environments. But, most of the time, our targets are complex-we don’t know enough about them (and can’t know enough about them) to be able to simply use operational plans to produce automatic change. Instead, we have to learn as we attempt to change our target, so that we can do a better job of change with our next change effort (iteration). In other words, we are finding the path of change as we travel it, and we are always trying to make sense of the new and unexpected information we get as we try to change our target. The alternative, which is to ignore ongoing change until our plan has been implemented the way it was written, is untenable as a change strategy. The idea that we are gradually realizing what we need to do for effective change by acting on our target is variously called “wayfinding” and “sense-making”. I think these less specific notions of how we go about change are more like everyone’s actual experience of trying to make change, than the delusionally precise descriptions in a logic model.
  18. 18. But, such a realistic view also means we have to value the foggy path we follow to create change, and not tie ourselves to an unrealistic notion of plan as deterministic ritual. One of the realities of following the foggy path is the anxiety that attends not knowing. Managing the anxiety rather than abandoning the foggy path is a skill that is learned over time through engaging targets in meaningful change. Working to find your way and to make sense of an unclear world are the tools that teach you how to manage that anxiety. Path Finding and Way Finding Pinterest View of wayfinding and sensemaking
  19. 19. Wave Your Hand, Fan the Flame The Indirect Approach The indirect approach is commonly used in strategic thinking about how to implement tactics and operational plans. It includes all those things we do to hide our intentions and maintain secrecy, as well as constituting a framework for how we iteratively approach a complex outcome. In operations and tactics, it is the equivalent of trying to surprise our target. In planning and execution, it is a way of focusing on building a flexible ongoing base for achieving our outcomes. In strategy, the indirect approach has two faces: ● The Indirect Approach in Planning ● The Indirect Approach in Execution Planning A concrete way of thinking about the indirect approach is to imagine that you are taking a trip with your children and that you want to surprise them about where you are going (I don’t know,
  20. 20. maybe Disneyland). Because your children are smart, you have to take steps to keep them unsure about your final location. Maybe you leave flyers around the house and in the car during the trip for tourist spots like “Alligator Wrestling” or the “Get Eaten Alive” mosquito ranch. Maybe you talk up getting eaten alive while you are driving. Your path to your real destination goes way off the standard approach to Disneyland, and by dirt roads that don’t advertise Disneyland. Your effort is to give your children many (unpleasant) possibilities while postponing their discovery of your actual destination as long as possible. In planning, you will identify your ultimate goal, but you will also build in communications and disclosures that point to other plausible options so that your target will be unsure of your intent. Execution In executing the plan you develop for your change strategy, your “bait and switch” messages will provoke some reaction from your target. If you can discern the target’s response, you can do small things to reinforce their mistaken beliefs about your ultimate goal. When you finally reveal your ultimate goal, your target will have to spend time readjusting to the new reality. (See the OODA loop later in the presentation for a framework to allow you to capitalize on your target’s confusion.) The Indirect Approach is a meta-strategy. Especially when you are focusing on a target over and over again, you will have many interactions with the target and you will exchange many messages. Your overall approach will be to to communicate with care, to be open about things that don’t affect your ability to achieve your change outcomes, and circumspect about those that do. Another way to think about indirectness is to examine the role of politeness in human networks. The point of being polite is to allow communication without forcing personal or intimate disclosure. Politeness allows us to carefully expand the closeness of our
  21. 21. interactions with people based on what we learn about them, i.e., how much we can trust them and in what ways we can trust them. Adapting to change in our target, the larger environment, and ourselves produces similar expanding information and increased trust. Indirect Techniques The Indirect Approach
  22. 22. Wave Your Hand, Fan the Flame The OODA Loop John Boyd was a fighter pilot who asked himself why it was that some pilots were generally better than others in aerial dogfights. His conclusion was that the better pilots made accurate decisions faster than their opponents rather than the more obvious conclusion that the better pilots had better planes. This faster decision making process is referred to as getting inside the decision loop of your opponent. If you can succeed in doing this, you disrupt your opponent’s ability to make good decisions, and their defense falls apart. Because advocacy for target change has the same kind of abstract back and forth character to its process, there are many lessons for us in Boyd’s simple and easy to understand model: ● One of our great advantages as small advocacy organizations or groups is that we can move faster than our target. But, we don’t typically use this important capability. For example, a common behavior is to file a complaint, and then wait for a response from the target. Time is a valuable
  23. 23. ● resource, and waiting for a response from our target is wasting that resource. In fact, targets often use slow responses to wear out disturbers of the status quo. We can use the slowness of our target’s responses to pile on additional disturbances that will require some response from the target. Each disturbance is a new challenge and requires a new response. When a target feels overwhelmed by disturbances, the target will tend to negotiate rather than stonewall. ● “Orient” is the phase in the OODA loop that is often the hardest to understand. The part we often miss is the orientation of the target. How does the target think about this advocacy situation, and what does the target believe are their distinct advantages? It is those advantages that we want to undermine by quick accurate responses. It is the target’s beliefs about their strengths that we want to disrupt. If we succeed in our effort to disrupt, we will maximize confusion in the response of the target. Boyd Resources
  24. 24. Wave Your Hand, Fan the Flame The Bow Tie Model The bow tie model wasn’t developed for use in successful social justice advocacy, but it is a good reminder that change targets are composed of many different processes, and that changing some is more effective than changing others. The big picture lesson in the Bow Tie model is that the parts of a target that are at the core are more “specialized, fragile, rigid, and efficient” than those parts which interact with the external world as input or output. Yet, as I have mentioned before, we tend to focus our change efforts on the superficial parts (the input and output parts) with which we can easily engage. While it is harder to interact with the core, change in the core affects every aspect of the target now and in the future. A typical method for exploiting this difference between core and periphery would be to have a small number of superficial tweaks as part of your change effort, and a small number of efforts to undermine the current status quo of the core. Altering the core alters the way that the target reproduces itself from day to day. Such changes in the core are much more resilient to backsliding than superficial
  25. 25. alterations of rules and externally imposed policies. Bow Tie models are often used to illustrate risk management from unexpected disturbances (read advocacy efforts). My use of it here will require you to view the disturbance as a good thing and the changes that result as part of your overall change strategy, rather than a disaster. A “safety” analysis (read protecting our status quo) details the processes that maintain current reality. Ten rules for smart bowtie analysis: Just substitute “change initiative” for “hazard” and you should be able to begin to see the use of bow-tie thinking in your development of a change strategy.
  26. 26. Wave Your Hand, Fan the Flame Top Down vs. Bottom Up Change Most of our individual and systems advocacy is what I call top down. We threaten the ability of some existing hierarchy to carry on its business unless it accommodates our change agenda. If our threat is feasible, we can negotiate a solution. The solution continues to exist after a successful negotiation, but is embedded in the larger evolution of the whole system (including us, the target, and their environment). This evolution is characterized by struggle over the target system’s constraints, whether they be money, politics, professional ideology, etc. Thus, our top down victory is immediately and relentlessly subjected to various attempts at modification or rollback. This is typical of any gain in social justice. It will be attacked by the same forces that we defeated with our top down victory. Bottom up advocacy is a different animal, more subtle, but longer lasting. Bottom up advocacy is not sending out emails to our constituents to have them share our talking points with some legislator or policy-maker. Bottom up advocacy produces epiphanies (life changing realizations) in the people with whom we
  27. 27. interact. Epiphanies change the heart of meaning for an individual when successful, and can last a lifetime. Even if the person affected never pursues a social justice change vocation, they remain more receptive to social justice messages. This is true even if the person changes their political ideology to one that is superficially antagonistic to our goals. An epiphany is not a change in political beliefs. Such belief systems are a dime a dozen, useful for tactics or as part of some operational plan, but with no lasting impact. They are more like membership cards in a community than a reflection of our deepest experiences of meaning. You can think of an epiphany as part of the developing Grand Strategy of the person who experiences it. The big problem with epiphanies is scaling them. Theater, cults, political parties-all produce excitement through the use of well managed entertainment, spectacle, and a sense of belonging to large groups of people. I view these as faux epiphanies. A real epiphany requires a change of heart that lasts far longer than the originating experience. It can occur in the common experience of some spectacle, but it only occurs in a single person. We need to have both a top down and a bottom up integrated strategy. If we forget the bottom up part, we find ourselves in endless struggle with the forces that fight change. The current battle by conservative forces to fight back against the civil rights era changes in law and practice has been going on since the mid 60s, and it is far from over. Burnout from having to constantly defend (expending energy, money, time, and meaning) what seemed like a real victory is a significant problem in social justice advocacy. Even though funders typically (and accurately) believe that bottom up change doesn’t scale well, always devote a part of your change effort to changing individual hearts. Her Power Epiphanies: Life-changing Encounters With Music ed. Tony Herrington
  28. 28. Wave Your Hand, Fan the Flame Advocate As Entrepreneur Advocacy at its best is the social justice equivalent of entrepreneurial activity. Entrepreneurial actions in advocacy are often called social entrepreneurship, and are focused on the use of the nonprofit as a social change tool. But, entrepreneurial principles and habits are useful generally in developing change strategies. Social entrepreneurship is: ● About applying practical, innovative and sustainable approaches to benefit society in general, with an emphasis on those who are marginalized and poor. ● A term that captures a unique approach to economic and social problems, an approach that cuts across sectors and disciplines grounded in certain values and processes that are common to each social entrepreneur, independent of whether his/ her area of focus has been education, health, welfare reform, human rights, workers' rights, environment, economic development, agriculture, etc., or whether the organizations they set up are nonprofit or for-profit entities.
  29. 29. Social entrepreneurs share some come common traits including: ● An unwavering belief in the innate capacity of all people to contribute meaningfully to economic and social development ● A driving passion to make that happen. ● A practical but innovative stance to a social problem, often using market principles and forces, coupled with dogged determination, that allows them to break away from constraints imposed by ideology or field of discipline, and pushes them to take risks that others wouldn't. ● A zeal to measure and monitor their impact. Entrepreneurs have high standards, particularly in relation to their own organization’s efforts and in response to the communities with which they engage. Data, both quantitative and qualitative, are their key tools, guiding continuous feedback and improvement. ● A healthy impatience. Social Entrepreneurs cannot sit back and wait for change to happen – they are the change drivers. There is a sizable internet base of every kind of information about social entrepreneurship, and I would suggest a scanning approach until you find something that perks your interest. The link below perked mine. Mining Social Entrepreneurship Strategies Using Topic Modeling
  30. 30. Wave Your Hand, Fan the Flame Disruptive Innovation Disruptive innovation is an abstract process that describes how new businesses replace old ones, as in the replacement of large computers by personal ones in the 80’s. The general way it works goes like this: When current public or services systems do innovation, they create what are called “sustaining” innovations, ones that build on their already existing model, using their already existing investments and skills. Because of this, these innovations support the status quo and cost more, and are more complex and harder to use by the public. Disruptive Innovations, on the other hand: ● Are seldom created by current systems. Instead, they are created by outsiders. ● Target an underserved or unserved market ● Are initially inferior to existing services, but satisfy a need current systems don’t address ● Are less expensive, and less trouble than current services ● Typically use a new more advanced technology or method of
  31. 31. ● service. In designing a change strategy around a disruption, you need to understand that you are not replacing the entire target, or even a large part of it. Remember that public services, although theoretically serving an entire community, do not in fact do this. They prioritize easy to serve people who require no flexibility from the system and who don’t cost a lot within the current framework of services. This means that in every public service recipient community, there are smaller communities of people who get no service, lousy service, or who are required to jump through so many hoops that it isn’t practical for them to use the service. If you can figure out a way to provide a useful service to these marginalized communities at lower cost and with high ease of access, you have the beginnings of a disruption. The process of implementing a disruption is to succeed at a small scale, learn how to serve the target community best, and expand into the next best target community. Because you are supporting groups of people that the mainstream system really doesn’t wish to serve, you have some leverage to stay this careful course of gradual expansion. In designing the strategy for your disruption, you need to carefully use a framework that fits disruptive strategies. This framework, which draws from Michael Raynor’ s decade-long research into disruptive innovation, has three principal components: ● Focus: Identify what needs to be accomplished in the short and long term ● Shape: Decide how and where to start disrupting ● Grow: Protect and nurture the disruptive innovation Focus: What do you want to accomplish? 1. What is the job that needs to be done? 2. What are the current trade-offs? 3. How can these trade-offs be broken, so that new ones more
  32. 32. 1. favorable to your target subcommunity can be created? These considerations will allow you to create a disruptive hypothesis to guide your change effort. Shape: How and When to start Disrupting? 1. Start the disruption in an unserved community 2. Use the ignoring of your target community as a catalyst for driving your autonomy in your disruption change effort Grow: Nurture and extend the disruptive innovation 1. Level the playing field through removal of subsidies and guaranteed contracts 2. Change laws to allow your disruption 3. Sunset existing programs, especially where they focus on your target community 4. Use private-public partnerships to increase your disruptive leverage. The resource links below will give you a lot more detail on how to think about using disruption in social justice change efforts. Public sector, disrupted Anticipating Disruptive Strategies
  33. 33. Wave Your Hand, Fan the Flame Scenario Planning Scenario Planning was originally developed at Shell Oil in the early 70’s, and it is still used mostly in large enterprises. But it is a useful way of thinking about strategy for any organization and creating scenarios doesn’t have to be as complicated as it seems in the diagram. The key idea is that you want to create a strategy for your organization that won’t fall apart the first time something unexpected happens. Since you can’t predict the future very well, you want your strategy to be “resilient”, able to weather unexpected disturbances. Scenario Planning is a way to do this. The environment of our change efforts doesn’t remain stable very long, so we don’t need to use scenario planning the way, say, Shell Oil uses it. Instead we focus on the forces affecting ourselves and our primary change target over a year or so. A Micro-Scenario Approach
  34. 34. Advocacy often requires a less complicated way to develop and modify change efforts than a comprehensive enterprise approach to scenario planning would require (typical months to years). Also, when change efforts require quick turn-arounds, groupthink is an ever present and virtually universal risk. The simplest way to avoid groupthink is to ask each person that is part of the advocacy effort or who has “skin in the (change) game” to develop their ideas independently so that no possibilities will be lost due to peer pressure. Only once ideas have been considered individually and surfaced, can you avoid groupthink in building a plan that will support your change initiative. The first step is to identify the main forces affecting both your organization and your target. These forces will only partly overlap. These forces are ones that will change your environment and that of your target, but about which you have little to say: ● National funding priorities ● Legal changes on the horizon that affect your core mission or your daily organizational practice ● Mandated changes in rights, personnel certifications and other infrastructure ● Changes that affect your ability to advocate (i.e., changes in lobbying laws or political evolution of governance) ● Changes in the rights and missions of communities allied to your mission The second step is to create scenarios in which these forces change in specific directions. Remember that these scenarios are not what you think will happen. They represent the future only as a model of how the forces you identified might produce outcomes. It is typical to have 2 to 4 scenarios. Commonly, you will have one scenario that represents the best you can possibly expect from the current forces, and and one that represents the worst you can expect from the current forces. One or two other scenarios might be created to represent a sudden and unexpected increase in one of the forces you identified.
  35. 35. The scenarios need to be made as intense and immediate as possible so that discussion doesn’t ignore real possibilities because of the abstract nature of the forces at which you are looking. This means that deep discussion is needed to flesh them out and they need to be visually and auditorily available to all those who participate in the scenario work. They will need to be repeatedly rethought as you learn more about the possibilities of a scenario over time. Once the scenarios have as much quality and reality as you can muster, it will be time to consider strategies for your organization. Remember that you are not after the “best” strategy. You are after a strategy that allows you to pursue the change outcome that you value regardless of how external forces (and your scenarios) evolve. This strategy will be the resilient one, the one that will favor your change effort the most regardless of how the future goes. Think anew, Act anew: Scenario Planning What If? The Art of Scenario Thinking for Nonprofits
  36. 36. Wave Your Hand, Fan the Flame The Cynefin Model Review this video for a very funny view of management frameworks (3 minutes): The Children’s Party This is a “sense-making” framework developed by Dave Snowden (not Ed Snowden, the NSA one). It is designed to illuminate how we make sense of the outside environment, including the organizations in which we work and live our lives, and how our sense of that environment can guide our engagement with it. The Disorder section in the middle is where we start before we begin to try making sense of the environment. In advocacy organization terms: Simple: This is the area of efficient procedure. The tasks are automatically done because no discretion is required. Think of filling out unemployment system paperwork every so often. Everything about that is predictable. You “sense” the pattern of needing to automatically file (maybe a notice), you categorize the
  37. 37. pattern to fit the usual parts, you respond by filling out the forms and submitting them. The constraints on how you respond are rigid and unchanging. Complicated: This is the area of operational plans. It includes such tasks as managing HR and implementing the expectable work of an organization. It is the area where planning and planning frameworks are the most effective. Complex: This is the area where a strategy is necessary for effectiveness. Also, traditional planning is more or less ineffective because the environment is changing in an unpredictable way. Although I’ll be talking more about this later, the best approach to the Complex is small experiments meant to probe the environment for reactions, then revamping your approach to incrementally adapt to a reality you can’t fully fathom. Chaotic: If the world is genuinely new, you won’t be able to usefully plan. Because a part of chaos is that change happens quickly (no state sticks around for long) and the current state doesn’t give you much useful information about the future, you have to try things out and see what happens. Chaos never lasts for long in human systems, but you can learn things by engaging. My experience is that what you learn from engaging chaos is useful in the future, often in situations you couldn’t have anticipated. There is much more to this framework than I can convey here. The resources below will introduce you to that larger set of possibilities. The Cynefin Framework (Video) A Simple Explanation of the Cynefin Framework (Video) Powerpoints on Slideshare
  38. 38. Wave Your Hand, Fan the Flame Summary Slide So, here is where we are: There are many frameworks that we can use to facilitate the creation of a real strategy for our change effort. The most important criterion for picking one is that the framework resonate with our intuition of its usefulness. If the framework fits our organization and values, it will be useful. The next presentation will look at tools you can use to implement your chosen change strategy.
  39. 39. Wave Your Hand, Fan the Flame Last Thoughts The biggest risk is not taking any risk... In a world that changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks. -Mark Zuckerberg All men can see these tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved. -Sun Tzu There's a certain logic to avoiding the haters, but as a strategy, it's utterly flawed. When you turn off the feedback, you lose the benefits as well as the drawbacks. It's like having a sore finger and cutting off your arm. -Rob Manuel When a plan or strategy fails, people are tempted to assume it was the wrong vision. Plans and strategies can always be changed and improved. But vision doesn't change. Visions are simply refined with time.
  40. 40. -Andy Stanley
  41. 41. Wave Your Hand, Fan the Flame Your Presenter I am Norm DeLisle: Short Bio: hubby2jill, 2dogs, advocatefor45yrs, change strategist, trainer, geezer, pa2Loree, gndpa2Nevin Email: Twitter: Facebook: Blogs: Change Strategy: Recovery Michigan: Disability Futures: Health and Disability: Economic Justice:
  42. 42. Wave Your Hand, Fan the Flame Thank You! I Appreciate Your Time and Attention! Thank You! I appreciate your time and attention.
  43. 43. Wave Your Hand, Fan the Flame Becoming Strategically Capable There is a very old notion of how we get good at skills that I think is more useful than the idea of 10,000 hours of practice. The framework grew out of the apprenticeship relationships that have been the primary way deep skill was conveyed from one person to another over the history of our species. It goes like this: 1. Beginner: Learn patterns so well they become unconscious 2. Pro: Learn when and how to disregard the patterns 3. Master: Intuiting the right pattern In change advocacy, building strategic skills certainly follows this framework, but there is no real apprenticeship except working with others who are committed to the same social justice goals you have. You collaborate on real change initiatives over time, and your skill grows from these experiences. In addition, at least now with the broader availability of the internet, there are opportunities to learn from other organizations and individuals, albeit in a more abstract way than would typically be the case in a traditional apprenticeship. In addition, building social justice strategic skills is
  44. 44. only an implicit goal, because the focus of our change organizations is largely on tactics and operational planning. On the other hand, it is possible over time to work on change projects with a wide variety of targets, ranging from local individual advocacy, local community organizing, and regional, state, or national initiatives. In a decently resourced organization, you might be working on change in several of these arenas at the same time, across several related change issues. In general, the more variety of change targets and change tasks you experience, the broader the strategic model you are building in your brain.
  45. 45. Wave Your Hand, Fan the Flame Mind of the Beginner The beginner needs a framework of skills that are so deeply automatic that they can serve as an unconscious reference point for building other skills. This way of reference framing a skill set in the brain as a foundation occurs across all skill acquisition. For example, the acquisition of math skills uses embedded reference systems as the basis for building calculation. An example is the use of pointing by young children to build a reference system of discrete numbers and numerical sequences. The other aspect of the beginner’s mind that has been noted by the quote in the slide is the idea that the we should retain as much of the beginner’s orientation as we can by working to keep the openness and lack of filtering even as we learn a skills framework. One of the principles of human development is that every time we perform an act, it becomes more automatic, we are less consciously aware of what we are doing, and we have less conscious control over the performance. For example, when children first learn to write, they are really drawing the letters as an
  46. 46. artistic performance. Only when the drawing becomes writing (automatic) can the child focus on writing words, sentences, essays, dissertations, novels, etc. Automatic performance is far more efficient that conscious performance, and allows the creation of hierarchies of skills that can be intentionally used for diverse purposes. At the same time, more automaticity means less flexibility of those automated skills. People with traumatic brain injury often have partial destruction of automated skills, and can’t use conscious activity (as they did when they were first learning the skills). In Change Advocacy, the beginner's skill set needs to include the sorts of learnings you get from advocating on behalf of an individual and/or a family to enhance personal possibility and secure rights. One of the problems with the modern instantiation of change advocacy is that it focuses on political change for communities at the expense of the struggle to secure individual solutions. Ethical analysis, negotiation, supporting self-determination, and other similar skills that can be developed and deepened by individual advocacy are weakened, and change advocacy becomes more politicized. It isn’t that community level advocacy is bad or that individual advocacy is good. Rather, community change advocacy can be substantially and strategically deepened by broad experience in supporting individuals. Additionally, individual advocacy helps to create an internal reference system for the different levels of system discrimination, oppression tactics, the various interests of elites and bureaucratic systems, and other systemic understandings of what it is that we struggle against in systems change advocacy.
  47. 47. Wave Your Hand, Fan the Flame Going Pro The second phase of acquiring skills is the standard of skills that practitioners assume when they use those skills for fun and profit. In social justice change, it is a level of skill that would be expected in the hiring process for staff in an advocacy organization. Pros build flexibility into the reference skills they developed as beginners. The flexibility allows for better matching of skills to purposes. This has the effect of expanding purpose possibilities. This expansion is accomplished largely through first being able to combine elements of the reference skills in new ways and add novel components to existing elements (maybe by observation of other professionals) to expand the field of possible skill components. These enhancements are driven not just by new experiences that the professional has while engaging in change efforts, but also by the professional’s reflection on those experiences, and the rewiring of cognitive frames that allows more useful skill to be extracted from experience and used in the future.
  48. 48. Skill sets tend to stabilize at the Pro level because that level of skill tends to be rewarded within organizations and systems, i.e., there is little incentive to get better. Getting better after the Pro level is reached requires a different frame of mind from the skill development support that is ordinarily available.
  49. 49. Wave Your Hand, Fan the Flame Mastery Mastery of skill requires individual effort and a focus on learning more from relatively standard situations of skill use than would ordinarily occur in the social framework of typical skill use. Mastery also must include the extraction of all that is worthwhile from novel situations in which Pro skills may be barely adequate. This combination of focus and reflection on experience allows the brain to create a novel, deeper, and broader reference system for the use of the skill set. Many aspects of skill will be made automatic that can’t be adequately verbalized or demonstrated absent the demands of a real situation. Because the pattern recognition which is the first phase of using skill is automatic and unconscious, it is not really possible to teach it. It is also very hard for Pros to learn from observing a real life example of Mastery because the details of skill use that match the skill used to the details of the real world situation are not obvious. Only the surface aspects of the skill used are obvious, and the user can’t relate them to an observer.
  50. 50. So how do we approach building mastery in a collaborative social justice change organization among a wide variety of people?
  51. 51. Wave Your Hand, Fan the Flame Supporting Mastery The key to supporting the development of mastery in an organizational environment is to build collaboration, focus, and reflection into the normal course of change work. Although historically mastery has been a largely solitary pursuit, it is possible now to share experiences and the reflections that give them value through the technologies of collaboration and the modern undermining of the use of knowledge as a political or strategic tool through secrecy. Some ways: ● After Action Debriefing: Careful review of what can be learned from experience ● Openness about mistakes: Advocacy as supported innovation ● Openness about novel ideas and methods: Although the article suggests that openness is a personality trait, it can be learned by experiencing novelty repeatedly without experiencing disaster
  52. 52. ● Collaborative Workflows: Real collaboration involves building personal relationships through reciprocal personal storytelling. It is this relationship that makes collaboration efficient and effective. Nowhere is such collaboration, focus, and reflection more important that in an ongoing “strategic conversation”. The old model of developing strategy, the one that has degraded strategy into operational planning, was to segregate strategic discussion into hierarchical planning in secret. The output of this was a written plan which had minor effects on the actual behavior of the organization. Resource: Strategic Conversation as an organizational habit, used by all members of the organization, is still a cutting edge notion. The link is to a book that discusses strategic conversation at the enterprise level.
  53. 53. Wave Your Hand, Fan the Flame Summary of Learning from Experience One of the advantages of social justice advocacy as a calling is that learning can go on for one’s entire life. The struggle for the fullness of life’s possibilities includes that vast majority of people who are alive, and the lessons of that struggle can be available to anyone who is willing to participate in the vast and ancient effort for real equity and collaborative community. Although I broke down the building of skill into 3 stages, learning is continuous if we focus on values, valued outcomes, advocacy effort, and supportive relationships with friends and allies. There are many skills that can be expanded and deepened if we make the commitment to constant learning as much as specific advocacy outcomes. So the trouble with never graduating really is an advantage, and one to remember when we run inevitably into barriers.