Tuesday, November 22, 2011

New campaign planning handbook for Canadian union activists

November 22, 2011

The Toronto and York Region Labour Council has just published Mike Balkwill and Rob Fairley's campaign planning guide for activist leaders and union organizers.

Written by and for activists, the beautifully designed and pragmatic 32-page guide contains many useful tools and tips.

Download Mike and Rob's "The Campaign Planning Handbook". [1]

The tools and tips I appreciated from the guide, include:

 Facilitation techniques, such as setting ground rules, (strategic planning sessions help when folks listen to each other), and posting a campaign event calendar on the wall so participants can add information as they go;
  1. A summary of effective campaign planning tools, like the forcefield analysis which helps activists assess their political landscape in order to identify threats and opportunities;
  2. A summary of elicitive questions to help you assess your progress throughout the campaign (which is nice as I don't know of many resources out there that help activists re-assess and re-evaluate their progress mid-way through the campaign); and
  3. A tool to assess member support, as in which union members are with, neutral, or against you.
I especially like the diagrams. Check out this diagram, which is designed to help your group identify the secondary targets that have leverage over your primary target.

Identifying Secondary Targtes

And then there's the authors' interesting interpretation of Training for Change's [2] Spectrum of Allies tool. I have never isolated the primary and secondary targets like this diagram does; I usually choose to position the primary and secondary targets within the spectrum of allies tool instead. I then think through how I can move these targets by reaching out and mobilizing stakeholders that have leverage over them. I might try Rob and Mike's version next time.

Spectrum of Allies Interpretation

I'm sure the authors had a pretty strict page limit, however, I would have enjoyed reading some case studies to get a better grasp of how these tools are used in planning sessions.

I would have also appreciated some discussion about the realities of trying to introduce tools like this into a group that has a culture of conducting planning sessions in a very traditional way. And when I say traditional I'm talking about the group that sits around a table and talks and talks and talks. And everyone (but the newer activists) knows that the big campaigning decisions have already been decided by a few key campaigners in advance. Still, activists can find value in Rob and Mike's tools simply by reading the guide and keeping these concepts and ideas in mind when they go about planning in a more traditional way.

Thank you Rob and Mike for your hard work in putting this valuable guide together.

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