A mighty rough road from Lynchburg to Danville

As campaigners, we have to think all the time about the progress we are making, whether we are on track, and whether or not we need to adapt our strategy and tactics. It’s important to have good information on which to base these judgements. But given the nature of campaigning, however good your information is, […]

Everyone must be aware of everything

It’s common still to see campaigns that set objectives and goals around ‘raising awareness’. Here are two reasons I wish this wasn’t such a big part of the campaigning lexicon: 1/ Raising ‘Raising’ is the least problematic part of it. But it’s still not great. For a start, it suggests that awareness is a thing […]

Closing the strong and stable door after the horse has bolted

Well we’ve been here before I think. Not exactly here, but there’s a pattern. Pretty much everyone was wrong about what would happen before this election – as they were before the 2015 election, the Brexit referendum, Trump. Then afterwards, (often the same) people start offering explanations for why things turned out the way they […]

We like to think we’re Stevie Wonder; we plan like we’re the Jesus & Mary Chain; but we’re not even the band in Rick’s Bar in Casablanca

In the way we plan, think about and evaluate campaigning, it’s too easy to put ourselves at the centre of everything: It’s your campaign, you’re the change maker. You’re Stevie Wonder. You’re recording ‘Superstition’. You’ve written it. You’ve arranged it. You produce it. You play almost all the instruments on it. You’re in complete control […]

Much SMARTer

Fifteen years ago I was a big proponent of campaigns having SMART objectives; these days very much less so. It’s good to inject some discipline into campaign planning processes, and to build from a good sense of the likely change dynamics, and to make sure your ambitions are not woefully misplaced. But SMARTifying campaigns can […]

How far to the horizon?

There are, as usual, a whole load of useful insights in Tom Baker’s latest blogpost. But I was particularly struck by the first two lessons he offers about campaigning around aid, essentially that: Things can move very quickly, with key shifts happening from moment to moment Meaningful change tends to happen over the long term […]

Theories of change vs dart throwing chimps

I wouldn’t ideally call it a ‘theory of change’, but I think it can be really helpful to develop – at an organisational level – a shared view of how change happens, the power dynamics at play, and the best ways to intervene. The absence of this sort of analysis can be problematic for many […]

Every hand’s a winner and every hand’s a loser

  The kid spread his hand and then began to blush But his face turned pale when he saw my queen-high flush   T Bone Walker there, describing how to play a winning hand of poker. Though in fact (a) he’s not actually talking about poker and (b) it’s rarely that simple. According to Nate […]

Evaluator says evaluation is a waste of time, never works again

The history of our knowledge about, and understanding of, the world can be summarised (amongst other ways) as follows: Speculation. Plausibility. Certainty. Uncertainty. Unknowability. Aristotle suggested that stones fall to earth because they are trying to get back to their home. Fire travels upwards because it lives in the heavens. He invented logic and was […]