The values of strategy?

I’ve been working up an agenda for a 2 hour strategy workshop at the Peace News Summer Gathering – co-facilitated by Rich at Seeds for Change. It’s great timing – happening alongside the conversation that’s been taking place on this blog about strategy.

We want to start where people are at and help them explore what values they currently use to make their activist-related decisions: why this campaign and not that one… this action rather than that action… this type of activist group or organisation and not another?

Which of these actions speaks to your values?

Then we plan to use a local radio style interview to get them thinking about those values and uncover the strategic elements (or lack of them) before moving on to introduce and practice a couple of tools mentioned in the various posts – smartMeme’s Battle of the Story and critical path analysis (aka stepping-stones).

Starting from people’s values seems like an intelligent thing to do. One of the reasons why Rhizome, Seeds and Turning The Tide facilitators have been exploring strategy over the past couple of months is the sense that much of what’s currently on offer leaves people feeling cold. It alienates rather than included and therefore makes consciously strategic thinking (and therefore strategic action) less likely¬† – except of course for the few for whom these kind of thinking processes naturally work.

Going in at the level of values should engage people at a level at which they really care. Of course values might not be the only criteria activists need to consider when planning action – and we’ll be asking the group we work with on Sunday what else they feel needs to be part of an effective strategic process.

We’ll also be exploring the area of shared values. Groups working from individual values and assuming that they are universally held within the group are storing up trouble for later. So an explicit conversation on which values are ‘mine’ and which ‘ours’, needs to happen.

Clearly there’s also the issue of whether there are identifiable pressure points, triggers or fulcrums (fulcra?) we need to focus on to be truly effective. Once identified, the challenge then becomes finding effective ways to act that start from our shared values. It’s unlikely we’ll manage to cover this latter area in the 2 hours we have… a follow-up workshop, maybe?

I’ll let you know how it went next week…