“The world is changed by your example, not your opinion.”
– Paulo Coelho
Mahatma Gandhi once said that “action expresses priorities.” We can be outraged and upset about something, but unless we choose to act to change it, we are telling the rest of the world that it isn’t really that important after all. Advocacy and educating people about issues is important. It gets peoples’ attention, and may rock some boats, but advocacy alone is not enough. You need to organize.
If you have a group of people who all agree that “A” is unacceptable, and that what they really want is “Z,” you have a common vision, but there are countless paths and countless acts between that vision and realizing change. You need to organize.
Organizing can be complex. It is so dependent upon personal relationships and personal politics, that we sometimes forget about some of the other factors that are crucial in creating change.
“When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.”
The popular and widely-used organizing tool below is from a chapter titled “A Framework for Thinking About Systems Change” by Timothy P. Knoster, Richard A. Villa, and Jacqueline S. Thousand, in the book, Restructuring for Caring and Effective Education: Piecing the Puzzle Together . It was adapted from the work of Delores Ambrose. The matrix serves both as prescription and as a diagnostic tool when groups seeking change meet challenges in their pursuit.
Having all the pieces doesn’t mean that your work is done, that you automatically go from A to Z. They get you from A to B (then celebrate briefly, and reflect on what you learned), and then from B to C (celebrate and reflect), and so on, until you reach your long-term goal.
This chart also reinforces the importance of asset-mapping. That’s how you know if you have the required skills or resources to carry out your plans. Passionate, caring, and motivated people still need the missing pieces. Leaders find those pieces.
More on the importance of organizing to come.