Cultivating Strategic Practice
At the Grassroots Policy Project (GPP), we have spent over 14 years developing and refining concepts and tools for strategy development. More recently, our focus has been on how groups operate within a long-term social change strategy. Strategic practice is about how long-term goals show up in an organization’s day-to-day work, or how long-term strategy actually impacts what an organization does, so that they are orienting short-term efforts with longer-term transformational goals.
Today, we see groups and networks, as well as new kinds of formations, looking for ways to reach beyond short-term issue work toward forging a new, more democratic social contract where economic and social relationships are based in equity, racial justice, shared prosperity and ecological sustainability. These groups are rethinking their long-held approaches to organizing, mobilizing, cutting issues, communicating vision and goals and other activities. Building from the best of their organizing traditions, these groups are experimenting with new approaches, expanding their power analysis, re-examining their assumptions about alliance-building, exploring their fundamental beliefs and tying vision to strategy.
In Focus: Crafting a Long-term Agenda
Currently, we are engaged with a couple of networks and a statewide group on developing long-term agendas and corresponding strategy: National People’s Action (NPA) and TakeAction MN (TAMN). For NPA, this is part of what they call a ‘strategic inquiry’ process. For TAMN, this is the next logical step in their ongoing political education and outreach work. These groups recognize that making the links between short-term campaign work and a long-term agenda requires that they make some shifts, cultivating elements of strategic practice.
The process of developing an agenda helps provide a compass for orienting immediate and mid-range work around a strategy to shift power in our society. It becomes a vehicle for tying various campaigns together – campaigns are no longer ends to themselves but together they are a strategy for advancing a long-term agenda and any one campaign can advance multiple pathways. The long-term agenda helps us shape decisions about the campaigns we run in the short term and also develop medium-term (eg 5 year) campaigns that move us in the direction we have charted.
Our writings on strategic practice: