Change is a universal phenomenon. But not so much intentional change.
Not that there isn’t a lot of time and effort put into intentionally changing our world. Our effort is immense, complex, relentless, and infuriatingly difficult.
Part of the reason the effort is so infuriating is that we succeed, at least partially. When we do, our success is immediately attacked. Our complex efforts globally to create humanly meaningful and genuinely useful social justice change are assaulted by equally complex forms of obfuscation and dismantling to counter our successes, not unlike the resistance that builds to antibiotics because of the very use of those antibiotics.
This is the definition of our current struggle, and it seems as endless as evolution itself.
To increase our success in this struggle, we have chosen to improve our planning and execution skills, to professionalize our approach to change. The entire ecosystem of social justice change has embraced this framework, from funding sources to specific individual change interventions. Being able to write proposals that specify a complex causal change network, through the use of tools like logic models and similar planning frameworks has become an important organizational skill.
But, there has been a cost to this professionalization, a cost that is subtle.
To put it bluntly, we have contracted the scope of our hopes to fit the requirements of concrete measurable outcomes and other marks of operational planning. Such outcomes are a normal part of operational planning but are not really the point of the change effort. Operational planning is necessary to achieve change, but it is a tool, not the source of the drive for change, or a true guide to change effectiveness.
That source is the dreams and hopes of devalued communities for the fullness that life should offer. The leap from those dreams to an operational plan, without an intermediate step, forces us to degrade our hopes.
By focusing on operational planning as the key of our change effort, we create a gap between those dreams and our actual efforts. That gap has been widening, and as it grows bigger, the changes we actually create become smaller, abstract, and disconnected from the real source of our passion for change.
This blog is about restoring the power of our passion.
You can get an overview of the framework for the posts to come by looking at the slide decks I have built based on this theme. You can view or download a pdf file of the slides and notes at:
- Mission 1, Mission 2: Why our organizations lose track of their purpose
- Making Our Lives Larger: Creating Effective Social Justice Change Strategy
If you need an alternate format, email me, and I’ll get one to you.
Change Strategy: Making Our Lives Larger by Norm DeLisle is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License