I am on my way back from a 6 days trip to Kenya and if I would be asked describe this trip in a few words I would say „After 20 years of hard work trying to promote my business campaigning® model in Europe I finally found the fertile soil for it in Africa. It even seems to be made for Africa.» – How did that come?
As a result of a speech at the Swiss Green Economy Symposium in October I was invited to speak at the Co-Willing Economic Development Conference in Ukunda, Kenya, where I spent the last days since Friday night.
Co-Willing is an international network of activists, leaders and entrepreneurs whose mission is to change the economic environment in Africa so that Africa will be enabled and supported to unfold its creative and economic potential. Co-Willing does this through concrete action in a sustainable and self-sustaining way, while bottom-up or top-down approaches are chosen depending on what’s better in the concrete situation. Listening to the local population is important to Co-Willing, in contrast to many other organisations, as well as making their projects independent of further support as soon as possible. Co-Willing is not a charity. It can be better described as a social impact business network, something that I think is quite unique. I don’t know any other network like this. A nice side effect is: The more successful they are, the less migration from Africa to Europe.
If you visit their website now, you will not find this reflected on it because this explanation is the outcome of a workshop last Tuesday during which I helped them identify the network’s Corporate Identity.
Co-Willing is a still small but already impressive network with people who have given evidence for what they are able to achieve. E.g. Rommel Roberts who was one of the leaders in the liberation of Nelson Mandela, Hans Herren, founder of the Millennium Institute or Yakub Jaffar Musa who was a gang leader traversing across Kenya and South Africa and then transformed to become a leader in social impact projects especially for young people. I cannot name them all.
Co-Willing’s significance is underlined by the fact that Swiss Ambassador Dr. Ralf Heckner attended the conference for the whole Saturday and held a Gala Dinner on that evening. Like everywhere in Africa the dinner started with a dance.
I held my speech on „The Science of Change“ on Saturday morning and after that I had basically not a single minute without people wanting to talk to me. They were literally graving for a better understanding of the business campaigning® model, which was at the core of my speech. Further down you can read my speech in full length or download a pdf here with all the important graphics included.
People in Africa are very creative and launch impressive projects but from the experience of these last days it seems that they simply lack a concept that makes it possible to execute them. Because campaigning as a method to achieve change can be applied to all the challenges they have, like mobilising public or political support, marketing, communication, lobbying, branding, internal restructuring, etc. and my business campaigning® model provides the systematic structure to plan, execute and evaluate such projects and can be easily applied to these challenges, it seems to be simply made for Africa. People don’t have to use different models for these different challenges any more. Once they learn how to run a political campaign they can use their know-how to write a business plan. To understand one model is enough and that provides a huge potential for synergies.
The business campaigning® model can be used to write any kind of concept, even for as simple projects as a new website. It works like a Swiss knife with all the parts that you need to plan, execute and evaluate any change project, for whatever they are.
The participants regularly sucked it up like a dry sponge sucks up water. After 20 years trying to promote the business campaigning® model in Switzerland and Europe, which was and still is really hard, presenting it in Africa felt like coming home – finally home after such a long journey. Other than the people in Europe the people in Africa are massively hungry for new solutions and structures that help them to plan and execute successful projects and enterprises. And business campaigning® is such one.
The first campaigning training in Africa will be held next week in Nairobi. Sam Polley, who was with me is going to give it for an organization that promotes vocational training.
I could write so much more about these days, especially about a really inspiring meeting with local traders who sell on the beach, but that will have to wait. For now I’d like to come to my speech.
The Science of Change
Peter Metzinger, Co-Willing Economic Development Conference, Ukunda, Kenya
20th January 2018
Ladies and gentlemen,
I feel very honored to speak here today and I would like to thank Susi and her team very much for the invitation; and thank you for being here and listening.
I am not going to teach you how to bring about change. You already know how to do that. Nothing can demonstrate this fact better than your past and current achievements.
So what am I doing here in the first place?
As the title says: I will talk about the science of change.
It took me 35 hours to get here yesterday through the air. And it is 35 years ago when I started to try change the world with campaigning. At first on a small scale when I ran a campaign against a toxic waste dump near our village. Between 1984 and 1997 on a global level, when I used to work for Greenpeace, in what we would call „Campaigning“ and this is how I call it still today.
In 1996 I started to realize: Every change follows certain laws and rules and science can help you to understand and see the patterns. 20 years and 2 months ago I started working out a campaigning theory or model. It is a model that can help you to answer some of the questions raised this morning on the panel. It allows you to systematically plan, execute and evaluate campaigns or change projects and also train campaigners.
20 years ago I also started Switzerland’s first campaigning agency, which I still own and work for.
The following two slides give you a visualization of this model.
One looks very simple but it is confusing, because it implies that the management change is very static. On the other hand the Campaigning Wheel is much easier to understand correctly but it seems to be confusing at first sight.
Did Susi tell you, that I’m a physicist with a masters degree?
«Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe.
Working scientists usually take for granted a set of basic assumptions that are needed to justify the scientific method: (1) that there is an objective reality shared by all rational observers; (2) that this objective reality is governed by natural laws; (3) that these laws can be discovered by means of systematic observation and experimentation.»
That sounds very complicated.
To say it in easier words:
Science is about explaining and predicting phenomena. It means to develop theories or models that help us understand what’s going on around us and to predict the outcome of the things we or others do – like «how the hell did we make that guy change his mind and promote female football teams and how can we get the next guy do the same?».
Science consists of 3 elements: reality, natural laws and measurement.
I will now talk about some realities, some laws and simple tools which I discovered or developed in all these years and which all apply in any kind of project or campaign directed at changing something.
One of my definitions for campaigning is «the art of changing people’s behavior, thinking or attitudes in ways that help me reach a goal». Whether you want to stop a nuclear power plant, initiate a change of law, make an energy company change their investment strategy, implement the SDGs all over Africa or make people join your movement – it all comes down to concrete actions and decisions taken by individual people.
And what you have to do in the end is to make these individuals change their behavior, thinking or attitudes. Sometimes we want to change a concrete action, sometimes habits, but in the end it all comes down to the same questions and it all follows the same rules.
Campaigning can be so much more than just election campaigning (which is what some people think it is). It is a powerful tool to initiate the changes that are needed to achieve our goals.
That campaigning / change follows certain patterns or laws makes absolute sense, because, as I said, it is all about individual decisions that we have to influence. There is no company, no state, no government, no administration making decisions or taking action.
All there is are individuals with their dreams, their needs and their fears. That is a reality.
Remember the three elements of science: reality, laws, measurement.
Individuals are absolutely real, organisations only on a virtual level.
And if we don’t understand these individuals, how can we make them change their habits, decisions or actions? Even worse, we have to understand them really, really well!
Between 1991 and 1994 I ran a campaign to stop the Swiss energy minister from granting unlimited operating licenses for two nuclear power plants. It didn’t go well until I understood that he would not like to listen to a person with an academic degree and especially not when that person was from Germany, where I was born.
Much later I invented the following tool that we now use to better understand the forces that dominate a target group or individual. It is extremely helpful to understand the whole situation.
The FORCES-Analysis serves to better understand the forces that can have an impact on the achievement of your goals. To fill it out will help you get a better picture of the situation and its relevant stakeholders or players. You will see certain patterns arise. This summer we had a new intern, straight from highschool. And because a new and urgent assignment came in for which we had no senior capacity we let the intern not only use the FORCES-Analysis to analyze but also to present his own strategic suggestions. The strategy he came up was almost perfect and helped our client in a situation where they themselves had been struggling.
Each letter has a meaning and stands for a set of questions, not all of which have to be answered.
- All stakeholders who could be relevant to the success of the enterprise (campaign or company) in any way.
- Who has an influence on our target group or person?
- Who are the opinion leaders?
- What goals are the individual players pursuing (including purely personal goals)?
- What is the purpose of which activities?
- Which goal should our project have? What purpose should it serve?
- On which rules of the game are the individual players oriented?
- Which instruments are preferred? How are they used?
- How were priorities set?
- What habits does which player have?
- Which behavior patterns of the individual players are recognizable?
- Where are the operational or industry-blind spots?
- In which phase is the market?
- Worldviews, views, opinions, opinions, prejudices
- Which views and opinions on the subject are given?
- Who knows what?
- How strongly are these opinions fixed? Which opinions do we have to build upon?
- Which opinions can be influenced?
- What differences between opinions and facts should be observed, so that the communication does not completely bypass the subjective realities?
- Which player brings which benefit to whom?
- What’s in it for us and for others when we get in?
- Who expects what benefit from whom?
- Who benefits in which way if we lose, who if we win?
- What is true benefit and what is not?
- Which benefit meets the nerve of the target group or the nerve of the time?
- In the light of the knowledge we have gathered in the first column about the players, who would benefit who?
- What does which player want most?
- Fields of Activity, Portfolio (Products, Services), Sub-Markets, Strategic Business Units, Business Units, Interfaces, Organizational Structure, Strategic Topics, Core Messages, Scenarios, Public and Non-Public Arenas, Field of Potential Followers, Friends, Spheres of Influence, Tensions, Relationships, Meetings.
- Which topics generate areas of conflict?
- In which markets did the players move and move?
- Which strategic business units or business units are there?
- At which meetings (meetings, conferences, symposiums, etc.) are important decisions made?
- Which topics were and are there?
- Which topics could be of crucial importance in the future?
- On which playing fields can we and the other players move? Which of these could gain strategic relevance in the future? On which do the individual players know each other?
- Which activities of each player from the past do we need to know?
- Which geographical regions were and are strategically relevant today and in the future?
- Which conflict fields (minefields) are there?
- How difficult are the individual terrains?
- Are signs of saturation observed?
You can’t change a person if you don’t know him or her really well. Understand your target group first.
In professional terms we would call this approach target group orientation. Every communication professional will tell you that he is target group orientated. However, we all always fall for ‚the curse of knowledge‘, which means that when we are an expert at something we are simply not able to see it from the eyes of somebody confronted with it for the first time.
If we are not part of a target group it is impossible for us to understand our target group well enough. We believe unconsciously that they get motivated by the same drivers – information or benefits – as we do. And then we communicate and act as if they were us. It won’t work unless by chance. But still we call it target group orientation, because who would do something that is not target group orientated? Nobody would admit it, because everybody knows it is stupid. Still, it happens. All the time.
Target group orientation means that everything we do is determined by the preferences of our target groups or better, our target individuals. And all that we know is that there have to be incentives for the effort involved in it. There must be a benefit. That is another reality.
We just don’t know what these incentives are… Because the only person who decides about the relevance and value of a benefit or trigger is the person who you want to change. It’s a brutal reality. The target group is king.
In 2015 a campaign in Switzerland wanted to achieve that more young people go voting during elections. At first they thought the campaign would have to include cool parties, a cool website and Social Media etc. Until they asked and made a poll. It turned out that all that was needed was better instructions. Voting was simply too complicated. But also too serious for parties. In the end we launched a campaign to motivate experienced young people to train their friends. That worked and lead to an increase by 15 percent.
You have to deeply understand your target group, ask them or even better: involve them during the planning of your project or campaign.
In 2004 we had to run a campaign for female students and we had no idea how to achieve its goals. After two days of thinking about it we came up with the idea to design a strategy workshop that we would do with students. So we invited 8 students, made them work out a campaign for themselves and the result was a four times higher market share than another, parallel campaign achieved, which was created by advertising professionals.
Since then we have been doing such Target Community Labs™, as we call them, regularly.
Your target group will tell you what really works and this is not always what you would expect.
Another approach is to use artificial intelligence and online big data, which will tell you what works and what doesn’t. We used it for the first time this summer and now have a partnership with the company that provides the software tool.
Sometimes information is all that is needed. ‚Give her a specific information and she will change her habits.‘ Many organisations and some advertising agencies believe information is everything that is needed.
While everything is also some sort of communication, communication is not all and often not enough. Sometimes you need to set fire to make someone move.
Look at this coin. It has two sides and although they are completely different from each other, both of them are needed to make the coin complete and valued.
In campaigning these two sides of the coin are called communication and intervention.
While communication is the exchange of information, interventions are concrete actions changing our reality very directly. The Millennium Institutes tool is such an intervention.
15 years ago a young generation was protesting year after year against the WEF in Davos. It was seen as a meeting behind the curtains exclusive for the mighty of the world, where they would make decisions to rule the world, making democracy obsolete. They blocked streets and trains and fought with the police. The WEF needed a solution. First they tried to inform about their mission ‚to improve the state of the world‘ and the WEF’s benefits to the planet via PR and advertising. It didn’t help. When they finally called me we worked out a completely new approach. We opened up the WEF and launched the Open Forum, where the mighty, the NGOs and the public would come together and discuss. That worked and the riots belonged to the past until this year when Donald Trump is expected to be there. (Maybe this time I should call them?…)
So do not forget the coin.
We started, by the way, with the FORCES-Analysis. It was one of the first applications of this tool, which I had created just before, in 2003.
Another one is called The Four Levels of Planning. It helps you to start with why. People need to know why they shall change. If they don’t, they won’t.
Explaining the why is much easier if your campaign or project or organisation has a clearly defined identity. You have to answer: Why does this exist and why should I care? Remember the Four Levels of Planning»!
Do you know the following situation? People meet to plan. When asked, “What are we going to do next?”, someone replies: “Designing a strategy for the next 10 years?” with the answer “That’s not possible. Today you can not even plan for 3 years, and besides, so far we have been quite successful. The question is dealt with quickly. The answer is correct. And at the same time it is wrong.
If I do not know where I want to go, I do not know which way to take and how to walk. The fact that I manage to successfully put one foot in front of the other does not mean that I reach my goal. And certainly no proof is the past success. Times change. Those who only look back by concentrating on their previous core competencies do not really look into the future and build up opportunities. How many of the most successful companies from 10 years ago are still among the best today?
Earlier, I have already described that in 1992, together with a colleague, I drafted a strategy for a specific Greenpeace campaign for the next 20 years, which in 2003 was still valid and implemented as we had then considered. In the meantime, important partial successes had been achieved.
Not really thinking and planning for the long term, not looking to the future, leads to blind actionism, helplessness and avoidable waste of resources. It leads to zigzagging with increasing disorientation, to the brainless pursuit behind every fashion and hype, and to the loss of employee and public confidence in corporate governance.
One of the tasks of management is to look ahead, to give orientation, to point the way, and to enable companies and employees to meet today’s and tomorrow’s challenges. But how can one still give orientation in times of increasing complexity and dynamics if one has already lost them for a long time? – By getting them back, in the same way we did at Greenpeace.
Since 1998, I advise companies and organisations on strategic planning, using the same system. The strategies developed in this way, as far as I know it today, are still being successfully implemented. Clear goal definitions, systematic approach to analysis and strategy development and really long-term planning were the basis for these successes.
Earlier, I have already identified “backward thinking” as an important principle in business campaigning. It involves mentally positioning yourself in the future in which you have achieved your goal. Imagine what this future looks like in detail, create a picture of it in your mind. From there you can now look backwards, which in the meantime everything had to be reached to get there. In consultation sessions and workshops, I always recommend that attendees take on the role of a newsreader who should explain the success story to the audience.
With such an understanding of strategic planning, it becomes clear why it is fundamentally wrong to ask, „What could we do next?“ The right questions must be:
What conditions must we create for our vision to become reality?
What medium-term goals must we achieve in order to achieve the long-term goal # 2.1?
What do we need to do next to achieve the medium term objective # 3.1?
This then results in a goal hierarchy, which assigns subordinate goals or milestones to each goal and which can be subdivided into the „Four Levels of Planning“. In formulating this approach, I refer to the system of Antoine-Henri Jomini. It was an important help in naming the right terms and not only talking about vision, long-term goals, medium-term goals and short-term measures. For this I have adapted his system to the modern requirements of corporate governance and communication.
The „Four Levels of Planning“
The following graphic correlates objectives based on time horizons and hierarchy levels. At the same time, they describe the process that is necessary in order to approach the desired vision as far as possible – the ideal state will probably never be reached. Only rarely can this process be described exactly and completely for years to come. How am I supposed to know today what exactly will happen in the next 10 years?
But what I can really estimate is what minimum requirements must be created to make my vision more tangible.
Such necessary minimum goals for long-term planning can and must be determined in any case; even if the resulting target list can not yet describe the complete process
The farther these goals are in the future, the less you can know today how to achieve them. However, you can think twice about this for the medium-term goals. To achieve them, you develop medium-term strategies with operational (phase) goals that anchor you at the operational level. The graphic above shows how to proceed in principle.
This is how to proceed. Start with the Corporate Identity and write it down.
„Passion“ is that which we passionately do, which drives us and spurs us to full engagement. After Martin Fritsche this is „the fuel“ of an organization.
Your „Vision“ in the business campaigning concept, is the image of an ideal future that we strive for through our work and commitment. This picture should be utopian as opposed to a goal. However, it still has to be formulated consistently and plausibly. A vision can therefore also be described as an „ideal and ideal scenario“.
The „Mission“ is the task we give ourselves, or we face, to approach the vision as much as possible.
Your Corporate Identity will help you to create a consistent image of your organization that can be memorized and thus turn into a brand that people know, so that you don’t have to explain every time why your organization exists, what it stands for (and not) and why it is relevant to your target group and other stakeholders. Once it is clear it is time work on the Strategic Goals.
By strategic goals we mean goals that have to be achieved no matter what and which have far-reaching consequences regarding the vision. They are usually very demanding, always requiring one or more specific projects. Strategic goals are usually less accurate to quantify than their assigned operational and tactical goals.
Start with the goal furthermost in the future and then work out what needs to be changed until then. Think backward and write your goals down.
At this point we can see the brilliance of Antoine Jomini who introduced the next level of planning. Experience shows that our brain cannot build a consistent bridge from strategic goals to a list actions that shall achieve these goals and at the same time be the really relevant and only necessary actions. We need another bridge.
IN NGO campaigning there is a guideline which says „per campaign only ne goal“. You can also write this „per strategic goal one campaign“ and replace campaign by project as it is clearly timely limited. So now you define per strategic goal a project, give it a name, a manager who is in charge of achieving that goal, a team, time frame and budget. Project usually get broken down into phases which phase goals of which the phase goal in the near future is so concrete that you normally know exactly what you have to do. The difference between „have to do“ and „could di“ is that the first limits itself to the really necessary actions while the second contains a lot of actions not needed („actionism“).
Operational goals are goals that describe the prerequisites necessary to achieve a projects’ strategic goal. They represent the operationalization of the strategic objectives. Within a project designed to achieve a specific strategic goal, the operational goals are the project’s phase goals. Operational goals are usually easier to achieve than strategic goals. In contrast to the latter, there is no need for a separate project, but a concrete conceivable sequence of packages of measures or subprojects. They are also better quantifiable.
Tactical goals are then the goals that describe the prerequisites necessary to achieve certain operational goals. They represent the operationalization of the operational objectives. Within a package of measures to achieve a specific operational objective, the tactical goals can be directly correlated with concrete measures. Most of the time a tactical goal will simply be identical with a concert action.
These are perhaps the most important tools of my campaigning model.
To round up my speech I would like to show you a list of 14 rules which always apply. I call them the 14 Strategic Campaigning Guidelines™ (SCG).
- Polarize, profile, position
- Control the agenda
- Concentration of forces
- Build on existing strengths
- Maintain flexibility
- Persistence and perseverance in strategy pursuit
- Results orientation and coordination of goals and means
- Exploitation of synergies and multiplication effects
- Mindfulness and foresight
- Unity of command
- Efficiency and simplicity
- Think in scenarios
- Success Guidelines of communication
- Build golden bridges
I cannot explain all of them now. In short, the first one says you have to do something outstanding and the last one that you have to make it as easy as possible for your target group to do what you want them to do.
I will be here until Wednesday, so I will have time for further discussions.
Africa first, let’s make Africa great again!