Enlightened Capitalism

Essays about how to harness people's natural desire to create wealth and improve their quality of life to solve global problems such as war and poverty.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Essentials of Organizing

In my experience, there are 3 factors which distinguish an organized (and therefore powerful) group from an amorphous one.

1. Leadership. Everyone knows who makes the decisions, and how.

The challenge here is legitimacy, i.e. people agreeing to follow the leader, and actually doing it. There are three common ways to achieve this: (a) election, (b) hiring people to work for you, (c) being charismatic and inspirational. We should use all three of these tactics.

2. Communication. Members know how to voice their opinions and where to find out what is going on.

Web sites, newsletters, and yahoo groups work great for this part. When many conversations are going on at once, user-friendly indexing is very important, to allow users to contribute where they are best able and not waste time in other areas.

3. Action. The group does something, and tells everyone that it did it.

The key is designing an algorithm for a string of constant ongoing successes. I have developed a methodology for doing this in real estate, following the doctrine: never lose money and always beat the market (while increasing quality of life for those affected).

We need to do the same thing for all sustainability issues. Some easy goals would be for instance to increase the use of solar and wind power by a specific amount greater than the current projected growth rate in a particular state. Or to increase the proportion of food grown organically in a particular region. Or to reduce the crime rate, or increase the literacy rate in a selected city. Or increase the proportion of native plants in a neighborhood.

Our first meeting should be to brainstorm projects that answer the question, "How can we measurably increase the sustainability of our high quality of life on this planet?" and then each project should be rated for cost, time, and chance of success, given the talents and level of commitment of people on our team.

The ones that cost the least (or make money, like Affinity), take the least time (best would be under 3 months), and have the highest chance of success would be scheduled first. The point is to tell the group we are going to accomplish this one project, do it and measure the results, take credit for it and tell the press, and then start the process over for the next quickest, cheapest, surest win.

People will rally behind a winner, so as we get a string of successes it will be easier to take on larger projects, and easier to get more media attention, attract powerful partners, etc.

What I have learned working with the media is that it is very important to stay on message, and keep your elevator pitch short.

"We want to measurably increase the sustainability of our high standard of living. Then we want to do it again, and inspire other people to do it too."


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