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 did. And we hold onto those explanations until the next time we’re all wrong. I don’t want to be too critical. I rely on much of this analysis to try and get my bearings. And analyse wrongly all the time too. But I can’t help thinking that if...

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How to succeed

Leaving aside various other complications, you might say that you can judge a campaign a success if there is evidence of: A successful outcome A meaningful positive contribution to the outcome by the organisation/group/network whose campaign it is Questions of contribution are important but if you can’t assess whether a campaign has been successful, then any insights about contribution are essentially made without any kind of context. The obvious reponse is that you can judge success by asking, ‘were the campaign objectives achieved or not?’ And on the face of it, that seems a...

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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 reasons, to do with what flows into this gap in understanding. However, it’s at the campaign level, not the organisational one, where ‘theories of change’ are all the rage these days. And, as a planning process and tool, the approach has some obvious advantages: It uncovers, and allows...

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Doing all right with your christmas of white

You can’t have too much of Phil Spector’s Christmas Album, but if that’s not enough here’s a short playlist of Christmas songs that have some sort of social message. 1/ The obvious place to start is with James Brown’s Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto. James Brown here is offering a helpful counterpoint to the dominant narrative, that the sort of Christmas you have is solely dependent on virtue – “you better not cry/you better not pout” etc – set out in ‘Santa Claus Is Coming To Town’, by The Crystals amongst others. (Jim Reeves sets out a similar...

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