Make change happen

I’m on week 5 (of 8) of the the FutureLearn course I’m doing, ‘Make Change Happen’.  It’s a fantastic learning programme, making the point that, ‘If we want to make lasting social and political change we must understand power dynamics, systems and influencing strategies that can shift the status quo.’  Although aimed more at social, community and development activists, most of it is equally applicable to organisational design work.

It points learners to a variety of tools and resources.  Some I already knew about and some are new to me.  Here are the ones, so far, that I’ve noted as helpful/usable for organisation designers.  (You can’t jump ahead in the course, so I don’t know what resources will be coming in the next three weeks).

Power mapping: The course leaders say that, ‘Power mapping is a tool which can help to identify who you need to influence, who you could reach out to for support, and who you could work alongside. These will be individuals or organisations with an interest or concern in your problem or issue. They may be institutional decision-makers, influential people and groups, or they may be the people who will benefit from the change’.   The course gives one template to map onto, and looking further afield I found a useful ‘how to’ guide ‘Power Mapping Your Way to Success’ with various ways, including the way given in the course, to do the mapping and a good question set to use in the process.

Campaign canvas: Inspired by the Business Model Canvas, the Campaign Canvas, from MobLab, covers 12 questions/elements, including:  How can we create the change?  What do people need to do?  What do we need to do?  It’s users say ‘By working through each element of this canvas you will ensure your bases are covered for a solid campaign.’

I quite often use the Business Model Canvas, printed out in A0 poster size, in workshops using post-it notes to fill in the thinking and discussion for each box.   I like this Campaign Canvas and I’m going to try it out in a planned change I’ve just got involved in.  (I also liked MobLab’s statement ‘We envision an equitable, peaceful and sustainable world achieved by changemakers who continually integrate the best available strategies, tactics and tools into their campaigns.’)

The change analysis tool: locates change processes in four quadrants (Boston Box style) that all influence each other.  The programme leaders say, ‘It’s a useful way to analyse an issue or problem, guiding you in what questions to ask to understand it better, to recognise if change is already happening, and steering you in how you can foster change in a number of different ways. It presents a model of how change can happen.

The top two boxes, or quadrants, deal with individual change. The top left is about change within the individual, like awareness of our rights or our own confidence.

The top right is the individual’s access to resources to make change happen. The bottom two quadrants represent changes that happen in society as a whole or within the system.

Bottom left is focused on changing people’s attitudes on issues or social norms that influence behaviour and practises more widely.

The bottom right is about changing laws and policies within formal institutions whether at local level or national and global.

All four of these quadrants are important for change to be significant and sustained. Different individuals and activist organisations will have different strength in influencing in each of the quadrants. Evidence shows that if action is taken within multiple quadrants, change will come about more quickly and be more lasting.’

The one in the programme is a simplified version of this, free/downloadable, one from Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships

Four expressions of power framework:  This was a new tool for me, and I enjoyed thinking it through and wondering when I could try it out.  It talks about 4 types of power:  Power within, power with, power to, power over.

There’s a detailed explanation of it from Powercube which says, ‘The most commonly recognized form of power, ‘power over’, has many negative associations for people, such as repression, force, coercion, discrimination, corruption, and abuse. Three alternatives – ‘power with’, ‘power to’ and ‘power within’ – offer positive ways of expressing power that create the possibility of forming more equitable relationships. By affirming people’s capacity to act creatively, they provide some basic principles for constructing empowering strategies.’

‘Power with’ has to do with finding common ground among different interests and building collective strength. Based on mutual support, solidarity and collaboration, power with multiplies individual talents and knowledge.  ‘Power to’ refers to the unique potential of every person to shape his or her life and world. When based on mutual support, it opens up the possibilities of joint action, or ‘power with’. ‘Power within’ has to do with a person’s sense of self-worth and self-knowledge; it includes an ability to recognize individual differences while respecting others. ‘Power within’ is the capacity to imagine and have hope; it affirms the common human search for dignity and fulfilment.

As well as the specific tools the course mentions other resources.  A couple I’ve browsed and bookmarked for future use are:

From Mindfulnextlinks to resources in three categories strengthening individual resilience, strengthening organisational resilience and disruptive ideas. I found myself cruising the disruptive ideas links, stopping to read ‘why a ‘not to do list’ is what most of us need’.

A clear and short (5 minutes) systems thinking video – explaining systems basics, from Oxfam.  With it is a link to a free, downloadable 24-page guide to systems thinking designed for the change and development community.

The Beautiful Rising toolbox– this is an excellent and comprehensive toolkit.  It’s well worth taking time to browse it. It’s in in five sections: stories, tactics, principles (read, Beware the Tyranny of Structurelessness), theories (Artivism captured my attention) and methodologies (in this section there’s a slightly different take on the power mapping tool.   Each of the five sections contains resources, ideas, case studies, etc.

Do you think organisation design work is a form of social/political change? Would you use these tools?  Let me know.

Image: Course outline from Futurelearn, Make Change Happen

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