Making a Movement

My friend Wayne Stewart wrote these thoughts in 2009. I think they have a lot of relevance in the work we are doing today.

Movement Making #1 (page references to “Getting to Maybe”)

Why make a movement (advantages)

  • Increase impact exponentially
  • Bring disparate groups working on the issue together
  • Impact the ‘system’
  • Work on underlying causes and prevent reoccurrence
  • Deal with the issue in all of its complexity (beyond the simple and complicated)

Characteristics of a ‘movement’

  • Complex, well beyond simple and complicated
  • Full of ambiguity and paradox
  • Seemingly lacking control
  • In a constant state of change, incapable of being controlled
  • Not capable of measurement by traditional measures
  • Characterized by systems thinking, only understood as a ‘whole’
  • Questions abound, very few answers
  • Intentionality and complexity in tension (21)
  • Relationships are key

Characteristics of a ‘movement maker’ (leader)

  • Has all the skills of the ‘essential modern competency’ (ix)
  • Passionate about the issue, unwilling to accept ‘second best’
  • Driven by a sense of shame (35) and by a ‘call’ (36)
  • Understands the issue fully, in all of its complexity (25)
  • The characteristics of a servant leader, particularly:
    • Listening
    • Conceptualization
    • Awareness, of self first and others
    • Humility
    • Persuasion, political skills
    • Foresight
  • Deep understanding of self
  • Considerable dose of self-esteem
  • Humility, absence of arrogance, willing to let others take credit (Collins’ mirror)
  • Loads of courage (to act in the face of uncertainty and lack of clarity)
  • Perseverance and patience (while impatient at lack of movement- paradox)
  • At the same time, strong on implementation
  • Can-do mentality modified by reflection, visionary (20)
  • Able to think and do simultaneously (thoughtful actors and restless thinkers- 61)
  • Resilient (65)
  • Secure, willing to be fired, able to exist without the security of regular salary
  • Able to deal and comfortable with paradox and ambiguity
  • Comfortable with lack of measurable targets (‘maybe’ rather than ‘yes’)
  • Comfortable with generative work, able to lead others into and through this
  • Comfortable with a sense of serendipity, conviction, risk taking, faith (46)
  • Dreams big, acts bold
  • Must be free of ‘normal requirements’ of a NP leader- funding, operations, regular reporting, performance targets, etc
  • Extremely effective communicator to all audiences
  • Able to vary presentation to meet specific needs of audience
  • Strong advocate

Risks for the movement

  • Our habit of keeping arenas of action separate (85)
  • Our need for answers, lack of comfort with questions
  • Devotion to act without thinking
  • Impatience with measures that don’t fit
  • Issues with leader- lacks competence, loses passion, loses credibility

Risks for the leader

  • No place for ‘control freaks’
  • Can get fired as supporters lose patience with lack of results
  • Active resistance from those outside circle
  • Self esteem and confidence can be destroyed
  • Salary lost
  • Can become a pariah to those whose

On the other hand

  • The joy of making a huge difference
  • A legacy that will be remembered
  • Impact on lives
  • Changed systems that change lives (52)
  • Opportunity to bring everyone into the circle

How to ‘Get To Maybe’ (46 ff)

  • Stable source of long term funding
  • Removal of other, ancillary objectives
  • Cooperation within the sector, broad support
  • Detailed review of current approach and willingness to ‘kill’ irrelevance
  • New performance measures (51 and 83)
  • Advisors who understand, are comfortable with movement characteristics

Critical Elements

  • The right leader
  • Strong, stable support

Wayne Stewart

June 5, 2009

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