Although Organizing to support advocacy has a long history of framing advocacy efforts, the easy availability of organizing models (and their diversity) undermines their usefulness.
The Midwest Model (see the Midwest Academy website), for example, assumes that an organized advocacy effort can identify an individual or a role capable of changing the current situation to an outcome valued by the organized advocacy effort. There certainly are many solutions that can be achieved through such an operational approach, and organizing needs to be a catalyst for operational success.
But, as we are starting to understand, many of the foundational problems that we face in the disability community, and intersectionally, across the full range of marginalized identities, are “wicked”. They arise through the ongoing and constantly evolving process of complex adaptive systems.
Wicked Problems don’t have authorities in them that can change any specific issue to what we want.
Because wicked problems are complex and adaptive, there are a very large number of theories that can be generated to explain any such problem we might face. Furthermore, we will not be able to engage the wicked problem without SOME theory. But, there is no “correct” theory of the wicked problem. There are only different ways to engage the wicked problem system, each of which will cause some change in the Wicked System and adaptation by the System without necessarily resolving the issue.
This means that, while we might use a Midwest Model operational plan to engage with a specific issue, we will need to have a sustainable organizing vehicle for the long term if we expect to produce more systemic change.
Which is to say, that our organizing effort must become a complex adaptive system, and we want it to be adaptive in its engagement with our chosen wicked problem.
Most organization work is driven by tactical (FOA) or operational (SOA) frameworks. Though necessary, such causal planning models are not sufficient to engagement with wicked problems. How we bundle our tactical, operational, and organizing efforts to impact wicked problems is the subject of the next post.
Next: Complex Adaptive Engagement Over the Long Term…