Organizing 101 NEA Uniserv Academy “Never do for others what they can do for themselves.” -Saul Alinsky, Founder, Industrial Areas Foundation
ORGANIZING • Moves people to action • Creates power • Appeals to self-interests • Discovers and develops leaders • Is a science as well as an art • Builds organizational capacity
Short Term Addresses the members’ issues: pay, benefits, working conditions, etc. Builds coalitions Provides a tool to address issues and problems Builds organizational capacity Long Term People learn about themselves Individuals fully use their skills & abilities An opportunity to rediscover history struggle & resistance Relearn cooperation, collective action & support of one another Benefits of Organizing
Types of Organizing • Scratch organizing • Revitalization organizing • Issue organizing • Relational organizing
Issue Organizing Issue organizing is a strategy that identifies, validates & clearly frames or state the issue by which the members will be motivated and mobilized. Identification Know the difference between problems & issues. Problems are long-term conditions that give rise to issues. We are concerned about problems. We take on issues. Chronic unemployment is a problem. An announcement of a 50-day layoff is an issue.
PROBLEMS Global in nature Creates solutions Long-lasting Source or cause is distant Irritating Encourages study Resolved only over a long period of time ISSUES Specific in nature Emanate from situations Short-lived Source or cause is near & identifiable Inflaming Encourages action Resolved over a short period of time Problems -vs- Issues
Validating the Issue When an organizer thinks an issue has been identified, it can be validated with “yes” answers to these questions: • Is it immediate, recent, close at hand? • Is it specific, tangible, clearly understood? • Is it controversial, positional, polarized? • Is it the right size, can we manage it, control it? • Is it winnable, a sure thing?
Framing the Issue The organizer creates the organizing theme by stating the issue in such a way that it can be used to 1) focus the constituents’ energies and 2) mobilize people for action. The statement becomes the consistent position of the organizing campaign. Framing is accomplished by combining the following into a statement: • Clearly identify the issue • Define the issue in such a way that sides are clearly identified • Develop & refine the rationale for the issue
Relational Organizing A type of organizing whereby direct connections are made with the members and potential members. It focuses on stories, values, beliefs, and self-interests. • Focuses on listening & respecting members’ experiences & stories • Identifies & recruits leaders • Creates an agenda that is driven by the issues, lives & experiences of our members • Goes on all the time in a healthy organization • Provides the foundation for action and power
“Organizingis a fancy word for relationship building.”Ernesto Cortes
Give & take The meeting is selective & sensitive Strong sense of self provides basis for taking risks in relationship building Self-actualization comes from understanding feelings in ourselves & others Meetings like this prove an essential human connection that is necessary to build an enduring relationship You don’t just discuss what people do or their philosophy or their actions. Ultimately, you must get to the level of how people feel about what they do. Relational Meeting Concepts
Relational MeetingBest Practices • Engage with curiosity • Think about your own story • Focus on the other person • Draw out & share your stories • Probe for their interests • Ask direct, engaging questions • Listen more than you talk • Stick to your time limit • Reflect & evaluate (and take notes)
“When you are tempted to make a statement,ask a question.”Fred Ross, Sr.
The Organizer • The duty of the organizer is to provide people with the opportunity to work for what they believe in. • A good organizer is a “social arsonist” who goes around setting people on fire!
Ability to ID an issue Ability to evaluate human behavior Concern for people Ability to “affirm” others Ability to recognize power Ability to delegate Ability to determine needs Ability to navigate tense situations Ability to plan Ability to work from the general to the specific Ability to monitor & evaluate Skills of an Organizer
Three Attributes of an Effective Organizer • PASSION To have passion you must create a vision of where you want to go • PATIENCE Patience requires a commitment to your own vision in the face of “naysayers” • PERSEVERANCE To accomplish your vision you must have the courage to persevere
“Cre8tive” Organizers • Believe that there’s always more than one right answer • Have the ability to look at the ordinary & see the extraordinary • Are not afraid of making mistakes • Reframe problems into opportunities From Everyday Creativity Dewitt Jones
The Organizing Plan • WHAT: define the issue/situation • WHY: identify the organizing goals • HOW: define the organizing strategy to employ & the resources that are needed • WHO: determine the leaders & members needed to accomplish the goals • WHEN: organize a sequential timeline of activities & communications that reflect the goals & strategy & that help mobilize the members
Keeping the plan on track . . . • Encourage leaders to monitor without micromanaging – model that, too! • Provide feedback to leaders & members, highlighting the accomplishment of key goals, activities, etc., throughout • Offer assistance • If problems are occurring, get involved without taking over the leadership role
Take time toEvaluate & Celebrate! • Be sure that members are involved in the evaluation of the organizing efforts • Identify 1) what worked well, 2) what didn’t go so well, 3) what to continue doing, 4) the surprises that occurred, & 5) what materials/records to archive. • Celebrate & publicize the collective & individual contributions & accomplishments, giving credit & thanks to all involved.