Clicktivism & critical paths

We’ve touched on online activism before on this blog and spent quite a lot of time on strategy. So it seems appropriate to mention Chris Rose’s latest campaign strategy newsletter particularly the  Degrees of Annoyance article sparked by recent controversy over the e-campaigning methods of 38 Degrees. Well worth taking the time to read.

And since we’ve also referred to critical paths before I thought I’d quote the following from the article:

I’d suggest plan a campaign leading to a real change objective, with a properly researched Critical Path of steps which have to come about in order to make that real-world change happen. This forces you to understand the dynamics of the process you are trying to influence, and creates natural milestones which define progress and success – or lack of it.  It is reaching these change-points rather than the outputs which may be deemed necessary to try and get there, which should be used to judge success.  That makes numbers engaged online, or particular actions by particular online campaigners or supporters, a means and not an end.

This is a difference between tactics and strategy – the critical path must lead to the strategic outcome, while the tactics are used to help you get along the way.  Without a critical path you may have an end goal in mind but then no way of knowing whether a particular tactical activity – be it online or offline – is ‘working’.  How many meetings with politicians, how many direct actions or letters written, how many advertising billboards, community events, website visits or click through conversions are needed ? There’s no way of telling.  Don’t let enthusiasm for particular tactics replace a critical path strategy.