There are many reasons that people might organize together under a shared strategy, but those strategies all tend toward one broad goal: seeking specific, objective, and material change. As a leader, one of your most important jobs is identifying what those goals are as well as methods for achieving them.
What Do You Want?
Easily identifiable, tangible goals create an impetus for joining your organization. Before you can successfully get people invested, you’ll need to answer questions such as: What problems are your constituents looking to fix or improve upon? And what can be done to accomplish that?
These questions should be answered as specifically and directly as possible, avoiding vague, heady “solutions” like “making people happier” or “building a more just society.” Those are fine goals in the broad sense, but your constituents require concrete objectives that will bring unambiguous, meaningful change to their lives, cities, and/or communities.
Material goals help build the foundation for your organization going forward. Success or failure, these meticulously outlined objectives can be turned into motivational stories for your organization’s next campaign, increasing momentum and pulling more constituents to your side.
How Do You Get It?
Achieving change relies on power, and getting power requires a well-thought-out theory of change. It’s self-evident that the world is not static; things are changing all the time, both big and small. But have you ever given much thought to the process behind how that change happens?
Building a theory of change includes look at the dynamics between different groups and interests. You should study other organizations whose goals align with yours, as well as those who might oppose you. What resources do your opponents hold that might get in your way? What resources do your potential allies have access to, and would they be willing to collaborate with you?
It can be easy to get lost in the weeds when mapping out these different relationships of power, but in the end, every question should serve one purpose: determining the method to achieve the power to enact change that is most likely to succeed. One great method for centering your thoughts in a more actionable direction is to use if-then statements, such as “IF we do this, THEN this will likely happen.” Test many if-then scenarios until you can nail down which ones are the most likely to lead to successful outcomes for you and your organization.
How Do You Get There?
If figuring out your goals and theory of change are the most important thought processes of leading an organization, determining what tactics to use is the biggest step toward turning those ideas into reality. Put another way, strategy is the overall guiding force behind your organization, while tactics are the palpable steps taken to implement that strategy. Both are a necessity to achieving your group’s goals.
There are many metrics for judging the efficacy of a tactic, and it’s essential to make assessments both before and after each new step of your strategy is implemented. Here are three great baselines to look at when deciding if your tactic is having a positive effect:
- Does it make good use of your organization’s resources? Or does it waste resources without actually bringing you any closer to achieving your goals?
- Does it improve the ability of the people in your organization to work together? Does it make your constituents feel invested in the process and the outcome?
- Does it help develop the leadership skills of others in your organization? Or does it make them feel excluded?
Changing the world isn’t an easy task. But you can make it much more achievable by clarifying the change you’re seeking, understanding theory of change, and thinking through the tactics you employ to turn that theory into reality.
If you’re seeking more guidance on pinning down your goals or working out the best tactics to achieve them, sign up for a Wild workshop today.