Campaigning – a SMART choice?

Thanks (again!) to Dwight Towers for bringing Political Dynamite’s recent post redefining SMART objectives for campaigners to our attention.

If you’ve read our ramblings on Strategy you’ll know we’re engaged in a constant quest to find ways to make strategic campaign/action planning accessible, and this is a step on the way. All that business language, all those management tools are a turn off to many activists. The redefined SMART, (headlines below – read the full post as the summary doesn’t do it justice) is more human, has elements of vision and values in it, whilst still retaining some common sense, pragmatic thinking. A nice balance.

S – Success focussed (rather than specific)

M – Movement building (rather than measurable)

A – Ambitious (rather than achievable)

R – Reactive (rather than realistic)

T – Targeted (rather than Time-bound)

Here’s some additional thoughts culled from a comment I left on the original post.

‘A note on Reactive: Political Dynamite are absolutely right, when they define reactive campaigns thus:

On the other hand, successful campaigns do need to be reactive. They need to be quick on their feet. And they need an answer to the question ‘What do we do if the government ignores us?’.

But there’s the danger that it’s misinterpreted to mean ‘sit and wait then respond’. Whereas effective campaigns take the initiative whilst also having the nimble footwork that allows them to also respond to unforseen events. Even the smallest group can set the agenda if they’re audacious enough (there’s a couple more A’s for you!).

Also, let’s not assume that the government is the target. There are many that would say behind every elected government are unelected corporation pulling the strings

Here’s some alternatives to think about:

  • Shared ____ (values, process, aims, goals….fill in the blank as appropriate)
  • Sustainable – personally, as a group, and in terms of planetary footprint
  • Resilient – building a campaign that builds a community that weathers the adverse changes that face us all
  • Resourceful – innovating, imaginative and inspiring – moving beyond and reinterpreting old tactics, making us laugh, gasp, or just plain sick with envy that we didn’t think of it first
  • Tenacious – accepting that any campaign is hard work and hanging in there for the duration, not taking no as an answer, not being cowed by the size and apparent ‘might’ of the system

I’ll be taking some of this thinking into future strategy workshops and meetings. As always, any learning will be shared right here.