A blueprint for Transforming Protest into Change

I wrote a while back in this blog that the huge protests against Donald Trump are not enough in themselves to bring about change. My concern at the time was that protests will not persuade Trump supporters to change their positions on Trump.

So what will work? Greg Satell offers a list of the “more that is needed”

  • commit to an identifiable goal
  • build a coalition step by step
  • find and use power levers
  • attract don’t overpower
  • survive victory

It is an interesting list and I agree that each idea is important.

So how will this turn out?  We don’t know yet.  All we know is that large numbers of people have turned out  on various occasions to protest actions taken by the Trump Administration. Passions are high.

Greg is offering cautionary wisdom against trying to move too quickly from passion and protest to concerted action. I agree. At the same time, I would argue that Greg concerns are more tactical than strategic — and that strategy matters.

What is the difference between tactics and strategy? Good strategy and good tactics are both needed to win, but strategy comes first.  The reason is that strategic goals transcend what can be achieved by tactical maneuvering. Bad strategy and good tactics are not a winning combination.

So how to look at this situation from a strategic point of view? The first strategic question is what type of future do we need? What is it that we lack now that must be achieved? In this case, the discussion of this strategic question must include how we got to where we are. What caused the problem? That cause or those causes are our enemy, not the people who are on the other side of the argument.

Once we have a more clear sense of the “enemy”, we can think how to build conviction around the mission of achieving the future we want. This opens the door to tactical considerations of how to do it. As we do this, we “gamify” the conflict. We create a logic that makes the path towards winning possible. It also  starts raising the level of communication to a strategic level.  Messaging can “scale”.

Of course, timing is everything. It may be too early to decide these things. But at some point, decisions will be needed and they will be needed fairly soon — or the conflicts that are growing from expressions of heightened passion will start to splinter.

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