I’ve recently started doing some work exploring how adding a campaigning twist to leadership can enhance a leader.
What do I mean by a campaigning twist? Well, for a long time I have been intrigued at the inter-relationship between campaigning and leadership. And I have now begun to set out more explicitly how the application of some campaigning skills can encourage people to develop their leadership potential.
I call this application of campaigning skills: adding a campaigning twist. Now, I’m not saying that all leaders should be campaigners (although that would be neat), but that aspiring leaders can benefit from applying some campaigning skills.
And with the increasing focus in the voluntary sector on management skills, I’m also interested in how this campaigning twist can help to make managers better leaders.
If you’re interested, do look at my summary paper or webinar. And I’d love to know what you think. Do get in touch if you’d like to discuss.
I have just put a new webinar on my site on 1832 and all that. Well, to be a bit clearer, it’s about the development of Parliamentary Democracy in the UK.
This short webinar offers a simple introduction to this important topic not just for campaigners. It was developed from my experience as a campaigner, Parliamentary candidate, history teacher and student.
I have delivered this content in different forms to audiences such as the Bond network and City of Sanctuary’s Sanctuary in Politics course. I am always interested in how many of us living in the UK as well as people further afield have little idea about how the UK moved to being more of a Parliamentary democracy.
It is a compelling story of change without a revolution. Much has happened, but certainly much more needs to happen to continue the development of our democracy!
I’ve just added a couple of new webinars to my site. At the beginning of the year, I published a new pamphlet which sought, in a very simple way, to explain how a theory of change could be used to drive a campaign forward.
And recently a colleague of mine recommended Loom to me. If you haven’t come across this free educational software, I think that it is well worth a look.
It’s just so easy to be able to record webinars with either slides and audio or slides and video. You will see that I have used the slides and audio format for these webinars.
In the past I had thought about using podcasts as a way of conveying some of my information. But for some of the content, which I want to share, it just feels better to be able to share some slides as well as an audio of video feed.
I just love how the advent of this new technology is aiding teachers, who want to communicate and share learning but to be able to do so in ever more engaging ways. My plans now include more such webinars to convey other key messages. So watch this space!
Over the last two months I have seen a dramatic surge in demand for my online campaigning courses.
I like to think it is all those people at home around the world at the moment, using this time to sharpen up their campaigning skills. As we emerge out of the global crisis, we’ll have all these people ready to campaign!
At the time of writing, there are currently 3,584 students studying on my two courses in 134 different countries across all continents.
My two courses are a free introduction – what is campaigning? – and a paid for course – campaigning for change (based on my book of the same name). So most of my students are on the free course – but I love how far and wide these campaigning ideas are spreading.
I am now beginning to work on my next online project – so watch this space!
Last month I saw my book sales reach 400! I was amazed, and even more so by that fact that it continues to sell around the world.
When I wrote Campaigning for Change: an Essential Guide for Campaigning around the World, I realised that it would appeal to a small, niche audience. So I am delighted now to see so many book sales.
Shortly after publishing it, there was an order from Australia. And last month there were copies sent out to Germany.
I love how it has been used by Helvetas as part of their global support to advocacy training. And nearer to home by Places of Sanctuary Ireland and City of Sanctuary UK for their Sanctuary in Politics courses.
My favourite story came from a woman in Central Asia. She was doing some influencing work and kept getting stuck. And when she did get stuck, she said that she would turn to ‘that little green book.’
Just that story alone is enough to convince me that it was worth writing this book!
This week I faced the challenge of running a meeting on Zoom, not for 7 or so people as I’ve done in the past, but for 33 people!
I’ve written in the past about how I much I appreciate running a meeting on Zoom for campaign training. A few years ago working with a Spanish NGO, I helped them to build a theory of change with colleagues in various locations across their country. But there were 7 colleagues, which made it relatively easy to manage.
Zoom for 33 people
This week we held a quarterly meeting of the Detention Forum. We were expecting around 25 people – and we got 33 in the end! We realised that this had all the ingredients for chaos, so in advance of the meeting we shared some suggestions on ground rules.
So we suggested that only one person should speak at once. But also we encouraged people to use the hands up icon to indicate when they wanted to speak, and use the thumbs up/ applause icons when others were speaking to express support.
As the meeting progressed, it struck us as organisers that you needed more than just one person to manage this process online. But three of us could scan the participants’ list for hands up. We could also monitor the chat function and use that as a way to invite people to speak.
Invaluable chat function
I was fascinated by how useful the chat function was in the discussion – as people were speaking, colleagues were adding notes and links to articles/ websites. And once people had finished speaking they could also add a note with some links for more information. Whilst we couldn’t see each other, the chat function helped to make this online discussion more interactive and free flowing.
And then I shouldn’t have been surprised at the request of some participants for a copy of the chat history as it contained such useful information. I am sure that there is still so much to learn. But at this time of global challenge and national lockdown, it is exciting to see how we can use technology to continue our collaboration to further our collective mission!
‘Your stuff is so simple’. This was the stark feedback from a colleague recently, who had just read my book: Campaigning for Change – an Essential Guide for Campaigning around the World.
I am not sure that this statement was made as a compliment, but I took it as such! I make no apologies for my writing and approach to campaigning being very simple. I want to encourage people to campaign. I want to remove the barriers to entry, and I hope to inspire people to see that they can campaign for change.
One of my favourite pieces of feedback was from a community leader in Ukraine. After listening to me, via translation, she told me that she now realised that she had always been a campaigner. She just hadn’t felt that this term applied to her.
When you get into campaigning, you will find all the complexity you might be looking for in terms of opposition, framing messaging and responding to internal blockages. But as you start campaigning, I think it is critical to make campaigning as simple as possible.
Offer a simple definition. Show that it is within reach. Suggest that campaigning can take many forms. But above all, seek to inspire people to care and to campaign for change.
So, your stuff is simple! Yes, but isn’t that the best way to get people going and motivated to campaign for the change they want to see in the world?
I was recently asked by the Non Profit Builder website to write a post reflecting on one of my recent assignments – here is my post how to make a theory of change work
I am really excited to have been offered the role of project director of Detention Forum. The Forum is a network of over 40 groups challenging the use of immigration detention in the UK.
I have had occasional involvement with Detention Forum since 2012, when I helped them to think through their strategic priorities. I have admired how they have worked in collaboration and worked together to further their mission. And I have loved how they have raised the profile of immigration detention in the UK. And have built broader support for change.
I am excited to be taking on this new role. But also I am daunted by the prospect of taking over from their impressive project director, Eiri Ohtani.
I’ll be doing this new role on a part-time consultancy basis, so I will also be able to maintain my existing broad portfolio of UK and international work. But I can’t wait to get going in April to work with the network to build on the impressive momentum already established for change!
Working as I do on a variety of contracts around the world, it doesn’t always start well!
This was certainly the case for me in a recent assignment in Serbia. I was running a workshop for Roma community group leaders to introduce a simple approach to advocacy.
Initially they were all very quiet and non-responsive. I have a few lines which always seem to work around the world – these lines did not work. By the first coffee break, I suggested to the organiser that it was not going well. “Ah no,” he responded, ” they are always like this. They are just getting the measure of you.”
And how right he was! By the end of the first day they were responding with great vigour, and by the end of the second day they had produced some great initial thoughts on their advocacy strategies.
I was intrigued though at the difference between how they had started the workshop and how that had finished it. Therefore I enquired about how I had been introduced to them prior to the workshop. The organiser had described me as an ‘international advocacy expert from London’. With hindsight, I am not sure that they are the best words. It made me think about how some NGO people I know in London might respond to an international advocacy expert from Belgrade coming to tell them how to do advocacy!
So I have learnt from this assignment the importance of not giving up at the first coffee break (!), but also to find out in advance how my workshop is being billed. I will never be able to tell people how to do advocacy in their own country. But I can offer them a framework on which they can construct their own advocacy plans.