What makes a campaign successful?
Recently I saw a tweet where a campaign had been hailed as a success despite not having won the objective. This got me thinking. What do we class as a successful campaign and how many of our campaign work is ‘successful’?
I have blogged before about the importance of having plans and goals for campaigns to be successful. Planning and structure seem to be part of my DNA so when I hear someone say something has been successful without achieving the goal my immediate reaction is one of disbelief. So in these instances, I force myself to take a step back and reflect on that reaction. Specifically, I challenge myself to consider how I can hold this view with my personal experiences of organising.
And that boils down to the triangle of power and influence. Organising might be lots of things to lots of people, but for me, that triangle is key. If we are not working to build power and influence (resulting in change) then how can we be called a movement? To some extent, in this paradigm, it’s not the campaign goal that is paramount but building that power and influence. If you don’t win the goal but build the power, it’s been successful.
Yet, that side of me that craves order and structure rears its head and questions the approach that concentrates purely on the organisational/movement building. What happened to winning? Is it wrong to want to win on an issue or indeed focus on that?
I like watching football, I’m not an avid follower as some of my colleagues but it strikes me that just like the Budesliga is a bit like organising, there is something about how a football manager approaches the season that we can learn from in campaigning work for unions. There is the long term vision of winning the cup or league. The team know what they’re there for, to win. Each match that is played is about getting closer to that goal and of building the team so that when it comes to the next match they are more in sync, know the plan of attack and can win. It isn’t enough to just build a good team, it’s important but it’s not enough.
And we all like to win something, it’s the mobiliser and keeps people engaged in a campaign. So, when it comes to union campaigning, keep in mind it’s not enough to just run a campaign with lovely websites, leaflets and get a few people on board, we’ve also got to win on an issue. At the same time it’s not about just getting a win, we’ve also got to build that movement.