Resistance School Session Three: ‘How to Structure and Build Capacity for Action’

Resistance School Session Three: ‘How to Structure and Build Capacity for Action’


[Shaniqua:] Thank you all so much for joining
us for our third session of Resistance School! Last week we were thrilled to be joined by
Sara El-Amine, a leader on grassroots and digital advocacy. She showed us the immense value of persuasion,
and the importance of pursuing empathetic and inquisitive conversations with fellow
voters –and not just to win elections, but to work towards a nation that lives up to
its democratic values. Since last week, all of you have been working
with your groups to brainstorm the strategic action to take together, whether that’s
advocating for a issue that’s important to you or working to support a local candidate. Tonight’s session will help you structure
the leadership teams that are needed to make those efforts flourish. We are incredibly honored to have Marshall
Ganz lead us in our third session on structuring and building capacity for action. His own story provides a rich history of organizing. Over the last 50 years, he’s fought for
civil rights in Mississippi and joined Cesar Chavez with the United Farm Workers. In 2008, he was the chief architect of Camp
Obama, helping to build the grassroots movement that swept President Obama into office. But if you sit down with Marshall, you won’t
be faced with with this history. He’ll smile, and he’ll ask you where you’re
from. He’ll ask what your parents do, and how
you got into this work. You’ll be brought into a conversation that
reveals — even to yourself — the sources of your hope, power, and desire for change. It is in this way that Marshall has enabled
Davids across the world to beat their Goliaths. Tonight, he’ll pull back the curtain on
what makes for an effective organizing team. He’ll offer insights into how to structure
and build leadership. Now that you have identified the values and
issues that drive your political engagement, Professor Ganz will illustrate how to launch
those values into action through establishing a purpose, norms, and roles. After Marshall finishes up, we’ll have a
brief Question and Answer session until around 8:30 pm Eastern Time. For that portion of the event, we will be
fielding questions via Twitter, so feel free to tweet us at: “at resist underscore school.” Just a quick final note: Resistance School
is an independently organized project developed by students at Harvard University. It is not an official course or offering of
Harvard University or any of its schools. Professor Ganz, thank you for joining us here
at Resistance School. I hope you all enjoy! [Marshall:] Wow. That’s already a lot to live up to. Good Afternoon, Good Evening. Thank you to the organizers of the school,
to all of you present and all of you out there for the to opportunity to work with you this
evening on the practice of leadership, and structure, and action. I especially want to thank the people that
worked on this session. Cecily Tyler, Abel Cano, Jeff Rousset, Kathryn
Short and Kate O’Gorman, as well as the participants in a specially prepared, really
sophisticated cool video that we’re actually trying out as a pedagogical experiment in
order to connect practice and theory in a more explicit and useful way. Anita Krishnan, Nicole Rojas, Kim Osagie,
Michael Ali and again Kate O’Gorman. The other thing I want to emphasize is this
is the beginning of a learning process, not the end. It’s a process in which continued reflection
on practice is what sustains learning. And the scaffolding or the framework that
we’re going to introduce you to this evening is certainly not the only one in existence. We found it to be useful in a variety of cultural
and political institutional contexts, but just like this work of changing the world,
it is a work in progress and so we invite your feedback, we invite your observations,
your suggestions, as well as lifting up that which you found most useful. So we’re going to be talking about leadership,
and that’s one of those words that, well, as many people as teach courses in it here,
there are that many different definitions. SoI want to be clear about what I mean by
that word because we’ll be working on leadership and how to structure leadership in such a
way that it develops collective capacity and organizational power. My approach to leadership is rooted in three
questions posed by — oh, I got to remember this, sorry, oh, welcome, oh there’s our
goals, what is leadership, why structure leadership, launching a leadership team, leadership development,
that’s our goals for the evening, thank you. My approach is based on three questions posed
by first century Jerusalem scholar, Rabbi Hillel, who when asked how do i consider what
to do in the world responded with three questions to ask yourself. The first question to ask is, If I am not
for myself, who will be for me? Not a “selfish question” but a “self-regarding”
question. In other words, if you presume to lead, then
you better be clear about what’s in it for you, what do you bring to it, what values
are moving you to do it, so you can not only understand yourself, but interpret yourself
to others. That’s sort of the first question to ask,
but then the second question he says, is, if I am for myself alone, what am I? Because to be a “who” and not a “what”
is to recognize that we exist in this world in relationship with others and that our capacity
to realize our objectives is inextricably wrapped up with the capacity of others to
realize theirs. And finally he says, ask yourself, if not
now, when? Not advice to jump into moving traffic, but
it is recognition of the fact rarely can we figure out how to do well what we want to
do until we actually begin to do it. In other words that understanding follows
from action, does not precede it. It’s a caution against what Jane Adams calls
getting stuck in the snare of preparation – just another year of strategic planning,
just another degree, and finally I’ll be ready. And then I’ll have my plan, and I’ll venture
into the world, and the world will conform exactly with what I expect. Is that what happens? Not my life. And so it’s recognition that action requires
courage, and venturing into the unknown, because the future is always unknown. And so it’s getting into the action that
produces the information, the understanding, the skill that we need to act effectively. So for me leadership is about the connection
of those three elements: the self, the other, and action. Now the fact these are framed as questions
is also important. Because he doesn’t pretend to be an answer
man. He comes up with these questions to ask yourself,
and that’s significant too because if you think about what is the domain of leadership,
really? Is it when everything’s working perfectly? Everything’s functioning right, there’s
no contradictions, no problems, and people just burst forth with, ‘where’s the leadership?’ so we can thank them for how well it — is
that what happens? Not in my experience. When do people say where’s the leadership? When do they say that? Problems, right? Dilemmas, contradictions, ambiguities. And so it’s kind of having to recognize
that the domain of leadership is not one of certainty, but one of uncertainty. Because that’s the nature of it. So it is not about asserting control, but
much more about pursuing purpose in the face of uncertainty, and that’s problematic. I mean, it’s a challenge to the hands — do
I have the skills I need to deal with this new challenge. It’s a challenge to the head — can I use
my resources in new ways to confront this new problem coming my way. It’s a challenge to the head, a strategic
challenge. And where do I get the courage? Where do I get the hope? How do I inspire hope and courage in others? And that’s a challenge to the heart. So leadership really then is a head, heart,
and hands proposition. And appreciating that all are involved in
this work of leadership is a critical piece of understanding leadership. Now, so the definition I’ve come to use
is this: leadership it’s about accepting responsibility for enabling others to achieve
shared purpose. So this is not a diva idea of leadership,
like a leader is the sun, and then if you get close you get warmth or you get burns,
I guess depending on the circumstances, but it’s not that, it’s leadership as a form
of social interaction around the accomplishment of shared purpose under conditions of uncertainty
and understanding it that way, it’s much more about, well first of all it’s much
more about learning than about knowing. It’s not about the illusion that someday
you’re going to have all of the answers, it’s much more about understanding the questions
to ask in order to find answers. It’s also not understanding leadership as
a position. I think we’ve probably all had the experience
of people occupying positions of formal leadership who actually turn out to be pretty lousy leaders? Or, is that only here at Harvard? [laughter] I guess not. No offense, in particular! But, no I mean it’s understanding that,
not only is that the case but we often meet people in communities, workplaces, neighborhood,
kitchen tables who are exercising leadership in the sense I’m using that word all the
time – without the titles and without the formal positions. So, it’s thinking of leadership rather than
as a practice rather than as a person or position – a way of doing things. Now, that’s one fundamental dimension of
leadership. Now, organizing, which we’re going to focus
on more specifically is a particular form of leadership. It’s a particular form of leadership that
begins with the question, not “what is my issue,” but “who are my people? Who is the community? Who are the people with whom I’m engaging
in this work of leadership? What challenges do they face and what is the
change they need from the perspective of their lived experience? And, how is it that I can work with them to
enable them to turn their resources into the power that they need in order to achieve the
change that they want?” This is not about providing services to grateful
clients. It’s not about marketing products to customers. It’s about engaging people in a community
to bring them together as a constituency. And, the word constituency comes from the
Latin, constare, which means to stand together, stand together. It is to enable people to come together, stand
together, learn together, decide together, act together, and to win together. So, that’s the context in which we’re
going to be focusing in particular in our work. Now, that, organizing or community organizing,
although it may not have been called that, has a pretty long tradition rooted in histories
of many people’s and cultures really wherever people have tried to claim their humanity
by exercising their own capacity for agency and action. The tradition in which I was introduced to
organizing has three very clear roots. The first, a faith tradition rooted in the
story of some people who decided to exit slavery on a journey to freedom to try to find a land
of promise – the Exodus story, which is sort of a fundamental faith source for organizing
and this kind of work. It’s rooted when the Greeks decided that
they didn’t need kings and they could actually govern themselves – a civic tradition, that
is very rich. And a tradition of people figuring out how
they could use their resources to assert their interests very effectively. Does everybody know what a boycott is? Or you may not. But, where it began is very interesting. It began on the island of Ireland. It turns out there was a British landlord
who was abusing his tenants – they were tenant farmers – and the deal was that they had to
provide produce to him in return for his repair of the lands, of the necessities, of the roads,
and all the rest. He wasn’t doing that. So, they said “Oh, you know what? We’re not going to give our produce until
you do your part.” It took about six months, they won, and his
name was Captain Boycott! [laughter] So, this British landlord then has sort of given his
name to it. So, there is a popular tradition, there’s
a civic tradition, there’s a faith tradition for doing this kind of work. Now, my introduction to that tradition came
in June of 1964 when I completed my junior year at Harvard College. I’d grown up in Bakersfield, California
where my father was a Rabbi and my mother a teacher and came to school here on a scholarship. But, here is where I got involved with people
working for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and Civil Rights work and volunteered
for the Mississippi Summer project, which was an effort to support the organizing of
African American organizers in that state who were facing jailing, beating, and worse
just for trying to organize people to register to vote. My father had served as a chaplain in the
American army, so we had lived in Germany for three years after the second World War,
where a lot of his work, most of his work was with Holocaust survivors. So, as a child, I met people whose lives had
been shattered by that horror. But, my parents interpreted the Holocaust
to me as not being simply about anti-semitism, but about racism. And, racism kills. Turn people into objects and anything can
happen. And the Civil Rights movement was challenging
the institutionalized racism that’s been foundational to this country since its founding. Now, as a Rabbi’s kid, I don’t know if
there are any preacher’s kids in the audience or here – oh, there’s one right there, what
kind? [Audience Member:] Episcopal [Marshall:] Oh, Episcopal. Alright, that’s pretty good, alright. [LAUGHTER] I’m sure you’ll appreciate
this. You have to go to all of the stuff. You have to show up at it. You’re also supposed to be perfect, which
is sort of a different set of issues which I’m not going to go into tonight. I did love the Passover seder – the story,
the telling of the Exodus story with food, which was kind of cool. And, but, there is a place where they would
focus on the children and say “you were slaves in Egypt!” And I said, “What, I’ve never been a slave! I’ve never been to Egypt!” It took me a while to figure out that what
it meant was that that story was not the property of one people, one time, one place, it’s
told generation after generation after generation. And, you have to sort of ask yourself “are
you with those guys with the chariots and the horses? Or, are you with those people trying to find
a way to a land of promise for themselves.” The Civil Rights movement spoke that, told
that same story. Dr. King talked of the Civil Rights movement
in terms of yet another chapter in the telling of the Exodus story. And, it was a movement of young people. Dr. King, when he led the bus boycott in Montgomery,
Alabama was 25. The, you know, and it makes sense. Walter Brueggemann, a protestant theologian,
wrote a book called The Prophetic Imagination, in which he, he talks about the fact that
transformational vision or prophetic vision occurs at the intersection of two elements. One, he calls criticality, which is a clear
view of the world’s hurt, of its need, of its pain. Coupled, he says, with its hope and its possibility. One without the other is despair or irrelevance. Together they create the capacity for transformation. And, young people, come of age with a critical
eye of the world and they find it almost with necessity, hopeful hearts. So, for my generation, the Civil Rights movement
was an invitation to enact that kind of vision or that kind of aspiration for change and
transformation. Now, with all due respect to Harvard, my education
about race, power, and politics began in Mississippi, not in Cambridge. It was evident that all of the inequalities
between whites and blacks, were so evident housing, healthcare, education, you name it. But, it was also clear that bringing a few
books or medical supplies wasn’t going to help. It would be a nice thing to do – it would
be a charitable thing to do, but it wasn’t going to change anything. And, that’s when I began to learn the difference
between charity and justice. That, charity says “what’s wrong? Let me help.” Justice says, “why is it happening? Let me change it.” That second question is a lot more, that makes
people uncomfortable. Because what you tend to discover is that
these people are losing over here because, there’s other, these people don’t have
enough over here, or because other people over here have too much. And when these people try to change that,
these people don’t like it. And so then you wind up in a challenge. And it’s a challenge about power. And so then the question becomes, since the
African American community in Mississippi had really no practical right to vote they
were excluded from the labor laws that protected other workers in the ‘30’s that left out
agricultural and domestic workers, which was what most of the work was. I never had the experience of going up to
someone who was twice my age who would stand up, offer me his chair, call me Mr., introduce
himself with his first name, not look me in the eye because he was black and I was white,
and that went on a thousand times a day across the South. And you put together the cultural and economic
and political powerlessness and you get some insight into why all the inequality. And it wasn’t because people didn’t try
to change it, they did – there was a lot of resistance and there was a lot of push-back. So, the question became how to get the power
to change things? And some people said, well you go to Washington
D.C., they’ll solve it. Hi Washington! Can you give us a little bit of your power? It didn’t, and it turned into we needed
more research, more data to testify before our committee. It became evident pretty quickly that unless
the people with the problem could also become authors of the solution, it was not gonna
change. But, they don’t have any power. We learned there was a difference between
resources and power and that while many communities were lacking power, they were not lacking
entirely in resources and the challenge was how to turn resources into power. The instruction, the school where we learned
that, was — everybody know about Rosa Parks? — you know, the lady who one day got tired,
who was secretary of the NAACP chapter, who was trained in organizing at the Highlander
School, and was part of a strategy to follow up on the Supreme Court ruling about Brown
v. Board of Education, allegedly desegregating — intending to desegregate schools — and
it was an effort to follow a lawsuit, to extend it, to transportation. Because the buses had blacks in the back,
whites in the front, no man’s land in the middle, armed deputized bus driver, you had
to go past all that, find a seat in the back if you were black, and if a white person needed
that seat then you had to get up and give it to them. Twice a day, going to work, coming home from
work — a lot of anger in that community. What they discovered was that in fact they
did have resources. In fact, everybody in that community had resources,
which could become a source of power. Now, we’re used to looking up for power,
but what do you see when you look down? What do you see? What do you see? What part of your anatomy do you see? Your feet! It turned out everybody had feet. Now if they used their feet, instead of using
their feet to get on the bus and give the bus company their bus fare, if they used their
feet to walk to work instead, and they all did it, then their dependency on the bus company
turned into the bus company’s dependency on them. And that was the Montgomery bus boycott. And it took a year, and they won, and the
significance was that it was an instruction in how to turn resources ordinary people held
into sources of power. There was sacrifice involved, there was a
lot of solidarity required, but it was transformational. Now that’s what organizing was about. About how to enable communities to use their
resources together, to develop the power they needed to change things. I got hooked, and instead of coming back to
Harvard, which I actually wrote in my letter, “How could I come back and study history
when we were busy making it?” Which was pretty arrogant, but also true. [laughter] And is in their file now. I went back to California, where Cesar Chavez
had started a great strike. And I’d grown up in the middle of the farm
worker world, but I hadn’t seen it. I had to go to Mississippi, get what we called
Mississippi eyes, come back home, see another community of people of color, also without
political rights, also without economic protection, and California with its own rich history of
racial discrimination going back to the native peoples, to the Chinese, to the Japanese,
and even desegregating movie theaters, in L.A. that had Whites upstairs — Mexicans
upstairs, Whites downstairs, as late as the 1950s. It turned out, Mississippi was not an exception
to America, it was an example of the America we needed to change. So I began to work with Cesar and the farm
workers for the next 16 years, and it’s really where I learned the craft of organizing
in community and politics and union organizing. Did another 10 years of issue and electoral
work, mostly in California, and then after a 28 year leave of absence, found my way back
to Harvard. Tuition had changed a little, but in 1991
I came back, finished my senior year, wrote a senior thesis in History and Government,
and graduated class of ‘64 dash ‘92. And my 81 year old mother got to come and
see her son finally become a college graduate, so I closed that particular loop. But I had found that I was feeling stuck after
all those years of activism, needed to find a way to go deeper and broader. And so after that one year, it turned into
a master’s at the Kennedy School, it turned into a PhD here, and full-time on the faculty
at the Kennedy School since 2000. While I was working my PhD, the school asked
me to design a course on organizing. That turned out to be a real gift to me cause
it was a place where I could integrate my life experience with social science in a pedagogical
conversation with a rising generation. I came to think of it as an extraordinary
blessing to be able to go to class and have a conversation with the future twice a week,
and increasing in this school, with the world. So through my students then, I got back into
activism around the Dean campaign in 2003, Obama’s campaign in 2007, working with the
DREAMers and so forth. So that’s sort of where these frameworks
and these approaches come from. They come from experience, they come from
teaching, they come from practice. And that’s what I want to share with you
this evening. So, let’s get to it. How many people have ever belonged to, let’s
see, let’s make this work. Oh, I’m going to skip that, I’ll come
back to that, alright. How many people have ever been in a disorganization? [laughter]. Isn’t that interesting, everybody knows
what it is. We once we trying to sort of figure out, well
what is it like? Well, here you’ve got it. People are apathetic. They don’t show up for stuff, um, passive. There’s divisions. And I don’t mean divisions like differences
of opinion, but the kinds of divisions that paralyze action. The kinds of factions that um, well, you may
know what I’m talking about. There’s a sense of drift, there’s reactiveness. People can’t make decisions, but they — if
something affects them, they run around like chicken with their heads cut off, like oh,
what do we do? And finally, they may have resources, but
the resources are not engaged. Does that sound familiar? Yeah, it’s pretty frustrating. And if your power depends on collective action,
it’s more than frustrating, you’re leaking power all over the place, because your source
of power is not there. Now, we did – then, okay – what would the
promised land be like? You know, the place that really works? Here we are! Instead of apathy, there’s motivation. People are engaged, they’re motivated. They show up for meetings. Instead of division, there’s the capacity
to act together, the capacity to actually debate, argue, but then act together. Instead of drift, there’s a sense of purpose. Instead of reactiveness, there’s a capacity
to take initiative, and instead of the inertia of inaction, there’s actually effective
action toward change. So what’s the difference? Why – what does it take to move one into the
other? We once had 43 boycott cities all over North
America during the grape boycott that I was involved with the farmworkers. And we asked ourselves, why does some work
and others don’t work? And there were a lot of theories, like where
the churches are strong, where the students are strong, where the unions are strong. We found exceptions to everything except one
thing that didn’t. And here revealed for the first time. Oh, it’s leadership! Okay. What we learned was, the question was not
leadership in the sense of smiling personality or, you know, charisma, but it was certain
kinds of work that was being done. And if there was motivation instead of apathy
or inertia, it was because someone had – they’d figured out how to access their values for
the emotional resources for courage and action through the telling of stories. That’s kind of the whole role of narrative
is that capacity to access sources of hope, sources of courage, and sources of connection. If there was unity instead of division, it
was because someone was working at building relationships with intentionality. Because relationship building is really the
foundation of organizing work. Lateral relationships. That’s how you get to collective capacity,
not by a bunch of individuals just acting as individuals. It’s the relational capacity and the learning
that comes from relationships. If they were able to act with purpose instead
of drift, they developed a structure that enabled them to make decisions, to coordinate
what they were doing, to follow through and not simply react. If there was initiative instead of reaction,
there was strategizing going on. And finally, if there was change instead of
inertia, they’d figured out how to turn their resources into clear, measurable action
that amounted to change in the world, whether it was votes or money or people or whatever
it happened to be. Now, that’s all you gotta do! [laughter] These five practices are really how we structure
the learning and teaching of organizing. How leadership can work with the resources
of a community through the development of a shared narrative, relationships, structure,
strategy, and action in order to achieve its goals. Now, tonight, we’re going to focus on one
facet of that, and the facet we’re going to focus on is the one in the middle: structure. And structure is one of those words that is
a really interesting word. And so is leadership for that matter! I mean, it’s very interesting the, sort
of, reaction we get. You see that dot on the screen? See that dot? You ever been a dot? You ever been in an organization where, like,
it’s all coming at you? Kind of like…that? How does it feel? It’s pretty awful. Have you ever tried to work with a dot? That’s not so great either. Now, it’s really interesting, because it’s
a very problematic thing, and especially it happens a lot in volunteer organizations,
and then people say, “Well, nobody will help me!” or, um, “Ah, I’m so burned
out!” Well, why? Well, nobody, — well, did you ask people? — Well, No. There’s this problem of be — of being able
to see leadership as something more than one person telling everybody what to do and trying
to make everything work all by themselves. Does that resonate at all with folks? Now, sometimes we react to that so strongly,
and that kind of a constraining structure, dysfunctional structure that we, uh, go over
here … we don’t need that! We don’t need that dot, in fact, we don’t
need any dots, in fact, we don’t need leadership, in fact we don’t need structure at all! You ever had that experience? Does that work right? Jo Freeman, a sociologist, uh, in the 70s
wrote a piece called The Tyranny of Structurelessness in which she talks about the fact that human
beings, when they get together, they structure themselves. And it’s either going to be visible, accountable,
transparent, and, and, you know, open; or it’s going to happen anyway but it’ll
be factions, personalities, uh, lack of accountability, who’s really deci — does that sound familiar
at all? Well, see, it doesn’t have to be one or
the other, and what we’ve been working with in recent years has been an alternative, which
is thinking in terms of leadership as a team project. Now, this problem — this challenge that I’m
talking about is not a new challenge. Um. You know, we asked people to do advanced reading,
I don’t know if folks here got that; I know folks out there in the world got it, um, did
you get notice of a reading? Um, yeah, the uh, Exodus 18? Yeah, see, the reason I asked people to read
that story from the Bible is not — this is not bible class tonight, but this problem
that I’m describing it’s been around for a long time. And this particular problem, the account in
this story, is about Moses, who has always been interesting to me because he’s a Jew
who was an Egyptian, he was of the oppressed, raised in the house of the oppressor, it creates
an identity issue for him, uh, he struggles with it, uh, so there’s a lot to learn from
his struggles. Uh, and, uh, in this particular struggle he’s
sort of halfway through his journey, and his father-in-law comes to visit, uh, and shows
up, and shows up with his wife and his two kids, uh, and uh, says, “Hey, Moses, wife,
two kids here, just want to remind you a little bit about that,” uh, and then he stays and
watches while Moses goes to work the next morning, and the description is that Moses
is sitting on the ground, and the people are towering over him with with questions and
questions, and then Jethro, his wise father-in-law says, “Hey Moses, uh, this isn’t working,
uh, this is not good for you and it’s not good for the people. Um. You’re gonna burn yourself out. So, you gotta do something different.” Well, what does he ask Moses to do different? It’s pretty interesting. “First thing, you can’t be the only one
that knows the law, you’ve got to, you’ve gotta educate the people; they gotta know. You gotta share it, you can’t hold it all
here. Secondly, you can’t try to do it all yourself. You gotta find out if every — then it was
ten men — one to make decisions with respect to the other nine, and then one of those ten
and one of those ten, so that only the stuff that cannot be dealt with comes to you. And you have to give them the author–”
And he said, he wasn’t looking for experts who’d been to the Kennedy School, he said,
“people of respect, people who were respectful, who respected God, uh, and uh. Third, you have to actually give ‘em the
authority to make decisions. You can’t just hold it all yourself.” Moses does it. Jethro makes his reputation as the first management
consultant in history. [laughter] Jethro LLC or whatever, uh, but
uh, But it is so interesting that this problem’s been around for so long. And so, it’s time we figured out how to
deal with it, how to really deal with it. Uh, and uh, it’s interesting because in
that story I just shared, the first half of the chapter is all about Jethro restoring
uh his family to him. And it’s almost like he has to remind him
that he’s a human being, that he and his work are not exactly the same, and that his
work can have problems but it’s not gonna compromise him as a human being, because he
has a relationship with God, he has a relationship with family. And so, he sort of separates — enables Moses
to let go. And that’s a big part of what this is all
about, is, I think, developing our own sources of confidence, of trust, of self — of caring
for ourselves, that we’re able then to interact with others and share leadership and not hold
onto it. OK, so this is one way to do that. And this is, this came out of work that we
were doing with – well – let me – yeah, so this came out of work that we were doing originally
with the Sierra Club where they – with a student of Richard Hackman, who taught here for many,
many years about teams and how teams work and then we put together what we knew about
organizing and leadership and what we knew about how teams work to develop an approach
to leadership teams. And we got to test it – originally we figured
it out dealing with the Sierra Club and why chapters – why some worked and others didn’t. Then we got to introduce it into the Obama
Campaign in Camp Obamas where we launched leadership teams as the basic mechanism for
organizing local communities as opposed to the one isolated individual who would come
to a training, go back, and then be inundated by the, you know, the waters rising over him
or her. We found that working with people in a team,
in a collective like that, could be much more powerful. Not only that, but it could also enable the
team to grow. Each team member could then build their own
team and in turn, build their own team. In other words, it became a way to scaffold
the development of leadership deep into a community and into a movement. So it doesn’t wind up with one person. It doesn’t even wind up with one team. Yet, it’s coherent, it can be focused, and
decisions can be made. And you know I use these charts a lot but
I had a student from Venezuela who came in one day and she said you know that’s really
boring. I think you could show it much more effectively
this way. She said, you know, you see that dot you have,
it’s like this. It’s kind of clunky, nothing much happens,
doesn’t move. But if you develop that distributed leadership
structure then you get this. And there’s the space to grow, to learn,
to get to scale. And if you held your part up then it holds
up the whole structure. So this is the idea in organizing is to go
from this – to this. It also glows in the dark and you can play
with it, too. It’s called a Hoberman sphere. There you go! Don’t get hooked on it ‘cause you could
have it easily. Alright. So, teams are interesting because we actually
know a lot about what makes them work. I mean, there’s athletic teams, there’s
string quartets, there are teams all around us, yet we, when it comes to volunteer work
and political organizing we tend to, I don’t know, sort of put it in another category and
not learn from it when we all do have experience. And we’ve all had experience with teams
that have worked and we all have had experiences with teams that have not so we have a battlefield strewn with – no, its, that’s
– so what have you really done? You won this, but what about the future? What have you built? Have you shifted power in any way? Well not really. You may have won that one little thing but
what comes next? How do you make sure it’s followed through
on? So the second thing you get is a growth in
capacity. Not just achieving the goal but building capacity. And the third is for the individuals involved
they’ll have an opportunity for learning, for growth, and development. Nobody winds up in a situation where ‘oh
you just do that horrible, boring thing that you can – that it’s a test of your commitment
if you don’t stick with it. You’ll actually structure work in such a
way that it motivates engagement as opposed to being a test of commitment which happens
way too much with this kind of work. So that’s what you can get! And it’s really interesting – this work
was done with cabin crews in airplanes where there’d been problems with crashes and communication. Also been done with symphony orchestras where
musicians very frustrated with the fact of having no autonomy, just being a cog in a
machine. It led to the development of the Orpheus Chamber
Orchestra, where they have no conductor. It’s entirely through leadership teams that
they perform their beautiful music. Now, in order to get there, there’s a set
of – whoops! – oh, wrong way – set of conditions. The first one is that it has to be clear who
is on the team. Now, it’s quite surprising, a lot of organizations
– they do surveys – and find that, a lot of confusion. Oh there’s seven people. Oh there’s four, oh there’s eight. I dunno, you ever been in one of those kind
of teams where, you know, ‘who’s gonna show up this week?’ ‘Well, I dunno, maybe it’s four, maybe
it’s eight,’ oh and whoever shows up gets to make decisions, I mean, ‘cause we don’t
want to be exclusive and leave people out, so…Now, imagine a soccer team that worked
that way. Imagine any team that worked – oh, today we’ll
have seven players. No, we’ll do three. Well, you know, yeah, I mean it’s ridiculous,
isn’t it? So why do we allow that in work that is actually,
I’d argue, far more important? Especially in the lifetime of this country. I mean you’ve got to take seriously what
it takes to build collective power. And it starts by being clear who’s responsible. This is not about exclusion or inclusion. It’s about being clear who will make the
commitment to do the work that it takes to provide consistent leadership to an organizing
power. So, bounded is number one. Second is stable. And they sort of go together. It’s sort of like, ok, I’ll serve on the
team for six months. That’s it. How many of you have had the experience of
going to a meeting and half of the meeting is spent telling the other people who didn’t
go to the last meeting what happened. And then the next meeting – you know what
I’m talking about? What in, what are we doing with our time? I mean it’s crazy. It’s deeply disrespectful. I mean, here we are. We make the deal. We’re going to work together to do this. Oh I just don’t show up. Oh yeah take all your precious time and fill
me in on – what? Where’s the respect in that? Where’s the mutual commitment in that? So, stability. And third is interdependence – that, that
the team is constructed in such a way that the capacities, the skills, the orientations,
the perspectives – are interdependent. That they need each other. And they need each other to succeed. So I have an interest in your success, you
have an interest in my success, as opposed to “oh you’re looking too good. I don’t know. I’ve got to figure out sort of how not make
you so good so I can look – you know what? You know what I’m talking about? That never happens here? No. So there really is a way to be really strategic
about this. Now, let’s say that you have those conditions
so then the question is “okay, what do you have to do in order to launch a team?” And that’s what we’re going to focus on
for the rest of the evening. The first challenge is to come up with a shared
purpose. One of the sources of greatest dysfunction
in a team is when people are confused about what the purpose is. And the second is to come up, uh, with clear
norms or ground rules or community understandings, really mechanisms of self-governances, where
you actually decide you’re going to govern yourself in these ways. And third, clear roles, like what the responsibilities
are, and, and how they’re, how they’re matched up. Now, to be a little more specific about that,
when it comes to purpose, there seems to be three elements in coming up with a shared
purpose. First, what’s our goal? What are we trying to accomplish here? Are we trying to increase voter turnout or
are we trying to, uh, pass a new law, or are we trying to, uh, achieve world peace but
our first step will be to get Cambridge City Council to pass a resolution? Or what, what’s our purpose? Why are we – why are we together? And then secondly, we’re a leadership team. Who is it that we’re organizing? Who is it that we’re providing leadership
to? Who are we working with? Who’s our constituency? And thirdly, what kinds of things are we going
to do? Are we going to, you know, have a [INAUDIBLE]
campaigns? Are we going to do voter registration? Are we going to develop leadership? Are we going to have a sit-in in city hall
or… I mean what kinds of activities? Now that’s the first piece of work. And, in just a few moments we’re going to,
uh, show an example of how that can work. And then debrief. The second piece is about norms. And, you know, you say norms and right away
lots of people will… “well, we don’t need any norms. I don’t want norms.” Or “We’re all adults here, you know. We don’t need norms, you know? We’re grown ups. We, we don’t have to do that kind of stuff. We, we respect each other. We’re not children.” Um, that’s usually a sign that that group’s
in big trouble. Because what norms are about, they’re about
making a compact with each other about how we’re going to work with each other. And the critical elements are, “How are
we going to make decisions? Not when we’re facing a tough decision,
but now. so that when we face those tough decisions,
we’re prepared.” There’s no one right way to make decisions,
but the critical piece is to be prepared with a way whether it’s consensus or voting or
fist of five or whatever it might be. The second thing is about how you deal with
commitments. You know this thing of, like, I said that
I would do X, and I show up at the next meeting and, “Ooh, geez, you know, I had a lot of
work to do.” Well, what do you do with that? Everybody just says, oh well, yeah, that’s
tough. I get it. Any accountability? Any opportunity to coach this person about,
well, how did they try to do it? Maybe they didn’t know how? Maybe they needed more help and didn’t ask
for it? Or is it just passed over and then we have
a new norm in which commitments don’t mean anything anymore. You know what I’m talking about. See, norms, unless they’re honored, they
change. Time is a third really important norm. You know, we show up on time, we’re going
to end on time. Somebody wanders in, you know, half hour late. Nobody says anything. Everybody just kinda looks down. Ignores it. What’s your new norm about time? Yeah, you show up whenever you want. So, norms don’t mean anything unless there
is a mechanism through which there’s a correction. It’s addressed, it’s recognized, and appropriate
action is taken. Now, this isn’t like punishment. This is accountability. And it’s really about respect. It’s really about – we make a deal, well
we gotta honor the deal. And see, this exercise in self governance
is really fundamental. We talk about democracy and democratic practice
and wanting to honor democracy, well we gotta start with honoring these kind of constitutional
moments in the groups within which we work so that we honor the hard work that everyone
is doing in those groups and the values that are at stake. Then, there’s roles. How do we design the roles? Is it because, you now, so-and-so always wanted
to do X or is it because, you know, somebody puts me in charge of finance, boy they’d
make a big mistake. Roles require looking at, first, what are
the outcomes? It’s not like stapling the leaflets or something. The role might be to be responsible for communication,
and how are we going to evaluate that? It also needs to reflect capacities. What does this role require and what do our
team members bring? It’s like I was saying, if somebody wants,
you know, somebody to design a class, and that’s part of the role. I’m good for that. You want me to do the books? I’m bad for that. And so, it’s not so much about popularity. It’s about trying to match the resources
of the people on your team with the roles that they require. And finally, when it comes to organizing,
a critical piece is constituencies. In other words, a lot of the roles on a team
involve somebody responsible for this town, for that town, for the other town. Or for this community, that community, the
other community. So that it’s very clear that it’s an outward
facing team, not an inward looking team. You know, sometimes, a team can become a dot
too, where you have a team dot. And all they do is talk to each other, and
they really have a great time and they do lots of strategizing, but they never reach
out and mobilize anybody. So, it’s structuring it in such a way that
that actually happens. And finally, there’s a question of identity,
which is crucial that the team have a name, and believe it or not, that it have a chant. [Laughter] Sounds silly, right? Actually, it’s not. So, what we’re going to do right now is
take a look, and, uh, our teaching team – we don’t have an official name for our role
players, do we? The resistance role players, or whatever. Uh, maybe that would be good – have worked
very hard to give everyone an opportunity to see what this might look like. And so, what we’re gonna do is look at a
clip. The first clip we’ll look at, of people
working to create a shared purpose and then we’ll have a chance to debrief that. Then we’ll look at people designing ground
rules – norms – and look at that. And then at roles. And then at identity and chant. So, you know, the limitations that we have
in the constraints of time and space. We’d like to put you all to work right now
doing this because that’s really the way to learn is through practice. It’s like, you gotta get on the bike to
learn to ride the bike. I mean, you know, how many people have learned
to ride a bike? You learn by studying bicycle-ology? I’ll bet not. And you get on that bike, and the first thing
that happens, you fall. And that’s when the moment of truth is whether
you’re going to get back up on the bike knowing you’re going to keep falling for
a while. Because that’s the only way you can learn
to keep your balance, and that’s the only way you can learn this stuff. It’s by practice. It’s getting on the bike. You’re going to fall, but then you learn
from the falls. And then the falls get less and the balance
gets more, and that’s kinda what it’s all about. So this is an effort in that spirit to give
an idea what that might look like. And so, uh, for folks out there, you know,
the first clip is about seven minutes, and then we’ll debrief it. Take a look, join us, hang in there, do not
go — I mean — this is not the time to go to the refrigerator or whatever. This is the time to really pay attention,
because up to now what you’ve been hearing is this one guy giving you a lecture, but
let’s see some action. So let’s begin. [Abel:] Activities to help you start achieving
that goal. So what specific activities will we do together
as a team to live into that vision that we’ve set for ourselves? It’s okay if they’re wildly different
from one another, in fact, that will give us a better sort of, information to work through
as we begin getting into the exercise. So, let’s take a minute now and jump into
this first piece, silent reflection, and we’ll begin writing down. Now we’re going to part two, which is our
first section of teamwork. What we’ll do in this section is essentially
each person will read out their statement, we’ll capture it on the flipchart behind
us, make sure it’s reflected there, and then we’ll circle areas of synergy or agreement. I know that there’s going to be a lot of
difference in what we’re sharing, and that’s okay. [Kimberly:] Um, I come from an immigrant family,
and so I think our shared purpose is to transform the political atmosphere around immigration
by, um, raising awareness about political issues, so that voters really make informed
decisions when it comes to immigration policy. [Abel:] That’s great. And Kimberly, I’m sorry, can you repeat
the who and the what? [Kimberly:] Um, I think we are…yup, transform
political atmosphere around immigration by raising awareness so that voters make informed
decisions. [Abel:] Great, and when you, when you say,
raising awareness, do you have a particular tactic in mind? [Kimberly:] Maybe it is like a voter registration
drive, so how we actually communicate some of the policies. [Abel:] That’s great. And when you say, folks who are going to be
voting, do you have a sort of constituency or group of people, maybe even part of Massachusetts
in mind? [Kimberly:] Um, we could think locally, I
mean, we could think of the Boston community, I think that could be cool. [Abel:] Okay, Boston community specifically. And are you thinking like, young folks, older
folks, do you have anyone in mind? [Kimberly:] Oo, it’d be great if we were
talking about new voters. [Abel:] Oh that’s great, that’s great. I just want to lift that up because that level
of specificity is actually really helpful when we’re thinking about where we wanna
focus. [Michael:] So our purpose is to stop the school
to prison pipeline by empowering college and high school students in Massachusetts to get
progressives elected to office and hold politicians accountable by doing teach-ins on campus,
voter registration, direct action, and meetings with elected officials. [Abel:] Okay great, so what we’ll do now,
now that everyone has had a chance to share. So, we have a bunch of really good ideas on
the board. And there are some differences in what we
put up, from one sentence to the next, so what we want to do is actually focus first
on where are there similarities, where are there some commonalities, and what could our
team potentially focus on. Beginning first in this “what” category
for the vision. Transform political atmosphere around immigration,
increase civic engagement, stop school to prison pipeline, activate 100,000 new organizers
in the U.S., improve civic responsibility, empower voice of local community speak out. And you can just shout these out, I’ll circle
the ones you all say. I love the empowering voice one, I think that’s
really good. [Abel:] Alright, do others agree? [Kate:] I also love this thing around civic
responsibility. [Groups agrees] [Abel:] Civic responsibility as well? Okay, so under the “who” category, we
have Boston community new voters, oppressed voters in the South, North Carolina particularly
but there are other places we could focus, Massachusetts college and high school, just
shout out, what community would give you the most energy to organize around as a team? Given where you are, where you live, what
you’re focused on. [Kate:] I think it’s really important to
like, maybe be thinking outside of Boston, I know there’s a lot of Massachusetts up
there, but like, it’s pretty good here compared to other places and so I think like, I think
it’d be really important to like, think about the South or something like that, where
like, things can be tougher. [Abel:] Okay this is good, this is a good
question. So what we want to do is lead with seeking
to understand, and then try to make a decision together. So Kate-O, could you say a little more about
why you feel like focusing outside of Boston would be important? [Kate:] There hasn’t been a systemic like,
recent, like pushback against voter rights in that type of way here in Massachusetts,
but there have been that in other states, and so I think it’s like really critical
for us to be thinking outside of our community and thinking about communities where we can
go make a difference. [Abel:] Ok, so thank you for lifting that
up, right, we want to hold the opinions as we move through this process. What I want to name is that we’re going
to come back to this point, and we’re gonna come back to where we differ in our opinions,
and what we want to focus on first in this step is really thinking about where are the
similarities and commonalities in the entire group amongst what we’ve already put up
on the board. So, Kate, again, I hear that difference, I’m
wondering, is there a place where you do see some energy, if you were to focus on another
region?” [Kate:] Low turnout, like, voters who haven’t
been — who feel like they’re not part of the system, cause then maybe I guess I could
learn something that I could take to another community later. [Abel:] What we’ll do is take a minute — [laughter] [Abel:] Hamilton! What else? [Anita:] I think house meetings, I think that’s
a really good idea as well. [Abel:] House meetings, that’s great. And let’s circle just a couple more, maybe
one or two more. [Kate:] So, it’s super important to do,
like, voter registration, like actually getting people in the voting booths, ready to go. [Group members:] Yeah. I agree. [Abel:] Part number three, we are returning
to the world of individual work. One change from earlier: we’re going to
rewrite our shared purpose statement, but this time, you’re only going to use the
circled areas from each column to construct your new shared purpose statement. So again, it’s ok if you leave some out,
it’s ok if you don’t use all of them, and it is ok if you try to use all of them. The real intention here is using as much focus
as possible using what you think the team resonates with, will best capture the intent,
and uses what we’ve already circled and honed in on. [fast-forward writing] [Abel:] Alright, and that’s time. Just listen for which statement seems like
it best captures, for you, your understanding of what our team’s purpose could be. [Michael:] Our purpose is to organize young
people in Boston to hold politicians accountable and fight for fair policies by registering
voters, creating house meetings, doing voter drives, church announcements, um, direct action,
and outreach to our networks on and off campuses. [Abel:] Alright! [snaps] [Anita:] Um, I said, We share the purpose
of developing civic engagement for the citizens of Boston by creating a voters’ league that
will increase turnout in the city council election, through get-out-the-vote canvassing,
house meetings, the Hamilton production, and candidate forums. [Abel:] So here’s the question: which statement
seems to best, in your opinion, capture the essence of our what our team can seek to do. [Kimberly:] I really liked Anita’s, I thought
it captured it really well. [Kate:] Yeah. [Nicole:] Me too! [Abel:] Alright, so it sounds like Anita’s
is getting some head nods and some laughter, so that’s the one that perhaps we can start
with. Is there anything we want to include in that
statement that wasn’t already captured? [Nicole:] I mean, it’s not included — we
didn’t circle it, but can we call out like public policy, or passing laws to get at the
structural forces. [Abel:] Sure, so maybe we can add something
like that. Do others resonate with that addition? [Kate:] Yeah, I think that would be really
important to add. It really speaks to me. [Abel:] Ok, Kate, that’s great. So, Anita, can you take one more attempt to
include that in your statement, and read it out one last time for us as a final statement? [Anita:] So we share the purpose of developing
civic engagement for citizens of Boston, um, by creating a voters’ league that will increase
turnout in the city council election and pass progressive policy through get-out-the-vote
canvassing, house meetings, attending town halls. [Abel:] Alright, let’s clap it out; we just
got the shared purpose! [Marshall:] OK, let’s have an applause for
our, uh. [applause] And, uh, Abel Cano, our facilitator there in the organizer role. So, uh, what made this work? What made this work? Anybody, shout out. What made this work? [audience member:] Structure. [Marshall:] What about the structure? What kind of structure? [audience member:] The facilitator. [Marshall:] The facilitator, that was important. I mean, did you see what he was doing? What does — why do you think he, uh, in that
first encounter, he was pressing for clarification, did you notice? Why do you think? Why is that important? [audience member:] Clarity. [Marshall:] Clarity. And getting out of the air into something
you can actually see, and getting as clear as you can about what the intent is. Facilitator was important. [Marshall:] What was important about the structure
of the exercise? [audience member:] It was iterative [Marshall:] It was iterative, very important. Because that way, see, you have – the rule
is good enough, not perfect, to get to the next step, to get to the next step. Because that’s how you get to a first draft,
otherwise you’re stuck on the first thing and you never move beyond it, so it it’s
being able to move forward that way. What else? What else? What else? The iterative thing is very very important. What else? [audience member:] Reaching a consensus? [Marshall:] Now how did they go about that
though? See, it it’s -and this is important for
consensus for like a constitutional moment like a shared purpose. How did they go- what did they focus on first? [audience members volunteer answers] Commonalities. See, th- the interesting thing here is often
when we say “what’s our shared purpose?” You say, “I think we should protect whales”
and somebody else says, “no, I think it’s about fish.” Ok, so then we get into a debate about whales
versus fish, and right away we’re defining our whole discourse in terms of our difference
rather than our commonality. So the point here is to create a mechanism
through which we can identify the commonality, so that within that context we engage honestly
the difference. Which he did, when when Kate brought up the
question about a different approach, and there’s an opportunity then to identify the differences,
discuss them, debate them and address them. So, the — the structure of this exercise
is meant to give everyone a voice, to give everyone ownership in the purpose, to get
as clear as possible, and to find the points of convergence around which this group can
now own a purpose, go to work and because they own it, they’re going to be a lot more
motivated to do it. Now we’re going to take out second look here,
our second, on, uh let’s see, this is going to be on norms. Ok, norms. [Abel:] What we’re going to do now is set
up our team norms, beginning first with how we make decisions. We have a few options. I just want to name them. So, we can go – we’re going to make this
decision by consensus, meaning that all of us need to agree about what we decide on. We can go with majority rules, which means
because we’re a group of six, if most of us are in agreement, that will be what vote
in. How do we want to make decisions together? [Anita:] I think majority rules. [Nicole:] I mean, I hear you, and at the same
time what do we do if somebody’s really opposed to what we’re — what the majority’s
deciding? How do we make sure we hear what they’re
saying? [Anita:] But sometimes consensus can be really
difficult, so I don’t know, majority might be better. [Kimberly:] I wonder if there’s a way for
us to do both. So, maybe we say our priority preference is
that we are racing towards consensus and that’s the ideal, but in instances where there is
true dissent, where there are some voices that truly have a strong opinion, we use the
majority rules in those cases. [Abel:] So let me reflect back what I think
I’m hearing is we could strive for consensus and if maybe we have a time-bound amount of
time within which to have that discussion and if we have that discussion for that amount
of time and still can’t agree, we take it to majority rules? How does that sound? [Group:] Great. Yeah that sounds good. [Abel:] Alright. Alright. So let’s get some snaps. We just decided how we decide. Alright so we’ve just gotten to the next
section. This is about our norm correction. So essentially it should be playful, maybe
even slightly embarrassing, but why is this important? Why does it matter? We’ve just agreed to commit and respect
each other in particular ways. So what happens if a norm is broken and we
never acknowledge it? For example, if one of our team members – we’ve
just acknowledged we want to start and end on time – but what if a team member comes
to the meeting fifteen minutes late and no one says anything, what just happened? [Anita:] Well it becomes just like the new
norm. It just doesn’t matter what rules you’ve
set at all. [Abel:] Yeah I think that’s right. So we want to be sure that we’re lifting
up our norms and just honoring that commitment to one another. A few examples that I’ve heard in the past
are for someone to come in and do a yoga pose slash love bomb, so they’ll do a yoga pose
and complement two to three other members of the team. Another one is to do a full-body dance for
fifteen seconds while producing your own music. Yeah! I see Kimberly’s into the dancing, alright! [Kate:] Yeah, see guys, I like this, I just,
like I don’t know, I worry that we’re embarrassing each other. Like do we really need this? We’re gonna – I mean, I know you guys well,
I mean we’re gonna hold our commitments up! [Abel:] Yeah, and Kate I appreciate what you’re
saying ‘cause it’s like grounded in a place of really trusting the rest of the team,
which is a good point, but I wonder: why do others think that it might be valuable to
have a way to just acknowledge whether a norm was broken and just name it when we’re – as
part of the team. Does anybody have any thoughts on that? [Michael:] I think that, you know, having
norm corrections is not so much about spotlighting the error but moreso honoring the commitment
on everyone’s time that they’re investing in what we’re doing together. And just a way for that person not to come
in like they’re bringing the team down but say hey, you know, we’re all building each
other up. [Kate:] I guess it’s something – like if
we phrase it like that, it’s something I could live with. [Abel:] That sounds good. Kate, again, I appreciate you raising that. What do folks think would be a fun, engaging,
slightly embarrassing, but honoring the commitment norm correction for the team? [Nicole:] Full body dance plus food! [Abel:] Full body dance plus food! How do we feel about that? Cool, let’s clap it up. [clapping] [Marshall:] Ok, norms! And norm corrections, full-bodied dance plus
food. Yeah, very – there’s been a lot of creativity
in that area. So, um, what about this? What did you see work here? What did you see as problematic here? I mean it’s just very interesting, this
norm thing, because it’s one of the things people have the most trouble with. And you sort of say, well, what’s really going
on here? And I don’t know, it seems to me like what’s
really going on here is whether or not we’re really ready to accept responsibility for
each other and with each other for how we’re’ going to work together. And so,you know, some people say, ‘Oh public
shaming,” and- that’s not the point. The point is we have – you know, we all have
our better angels and then we have that other part. And it’s sort of like we all need to figure
out ways to encourage our better angels. And that’s the importance of accountability
and these kinds of mechanisms. But uh, what else did you see here in this
norms exercise? What else worked? What made it work? Would you find it really weird? [audience member:] Humor [Marshall:] Humor is really important. It’s important all the way through. It’s important in organizing. It’s important in life! I mean, because how do you keep yourself in
perspective, and everybody in perspective? There’s actually some organization theorists
that teach about what they call the “technology of foolishness.” They’ve studied, uh, strategy teams and found
the ones that have humor are more creative and more effective strategists. Because you’re able to kind of get outside,
get outside the box keep it in perspective, and it keeps the spirit alive that is so important
for creative work. And organizing is creative work. What else? What else? What else on norms? You’re ready to go out and form norms in
your groups? Yeah, I’d love to see that! No, no seriously, we do this in all our classes,
we do it in a lot of our sections, and at first there’s all this questioning, but
once you ease into it then you know you can rely on others to have your back, you have
their back, now we’ve got a deal. We’re a team. We’re working together. So let’s go to now our third exercise, which
is on roles. [clip begins] [Abel:] Now we’re going to create our roles…we’re
going to go around one by one and have an open and honest conversation. So what are our particular strengths in terms
of our experiences? And you know, naming for the team what’s
one limitation that you feel like you have that might inhibit you from playing some of
these roles, or you might need support as part of the team? [Nicole:] I’ve had some experience, like,
as an event planner so the details are my jam! [cheers] I just really struggle though
with like, actually working up the nerve to ask somebody to commit to what we’re doing,
so that’s my limitation. [Abel:] You know and as far as- I should also name for myself,
I- my background is as a community organizer and field director. I really enjoy coaching people and supporting
people, so team coordinator or event coordinator could be one of those things. I think for me a limitation might be managing
to keep everyone’s schedules aligned and on time, so really being able to wrangle people
and follow up over time when I’m managing multiple projects, that would be a place-
that would be a limitation, and I probably need some support. Um, so, this is a good first round. I think we have exactly one, two, three, four,
five, six roles and six people. So Mike [Michael:] Yeah [Abel:] Where are you at with this role? Sort of, Where do you think the criteria and
fit is for you? What experience you most want to learn from
this list? Or you think you’d have the most impact
and it would be sort of like really leveraging your strengths? [Michael:] I think outreach coordinator. [Abel:] Alright, so is it ok if we put a check
next to Mike for now, there? And then we’ll revisit. [Others:] Yeah [Abel:] OK so now Kimberly, between event
and uh event coordination and uh managing teams, where do you feel like your strong
suit is? [Kimberly:] Team coordinator [Abel:]Team coordinator? Alright, let’s put a star next to Kimberly
here. I think I’m really strong at event coordination
as well, so I’ll take this role. And now we’ve got to celebrate because we
have our team roles! [clapping and cheering] [Marshall:] Uh, but what we just did was review
how to match people and roles and capacities. What did you see that made this work? Folks here. What did you see that made this work? Good actors? [laugher] No, no, I mean, this is very, very
real. I mean, we do workshops all over the place
and it’s just exactly like- yeah, over here? [audience member:] Uh, Identifying- Being
able to identify your strengths and weaknesses of each team member. [Marshall:] Yeah, this is huge. And it, it creates then a context- You know,
people talk about safe spaces? We’re much more interested in creating brave
spaces. It sets a space- it creates a space in which
we can honestly acknowledge limitations and strengths, so that we can really be smart
about what we’re doing and not get into those defensive games and all that. So this is a very- if a team is able to do
this, it’s really important, it’s a real deal. And it’s really respectful, thank you for
lifting that up. What else? What else did you see that enabled this to
work? [audience member:] It was iterative. Because people didn’t have to have to commit
to one role right away but they could say they were good at maybe two or three, and
then it was iterative so they could feel like they could choose one after having had a chance
to negotiate different – with the different- [Marshall:] Yeah, no that’s- and that process
of working that out, you know it’s sort of like you keep working at it until you, until
you find a match. That’s also a good observation. Back there. Yeah? [audience member:] I really liked how it got
to details all the time, so they used abstract titles but then it’s like “well, what do
they do?” And “here are the people, but what are you
good at?” So, it’s because I’ve tried to do this
staying with the abstract titles and it goes nowhere. [Marshall:] One theme that runs all through
this is the importance of specificity and concreteness. And not like “you’re going to be the event
coordinator,” Well, what is that?- yeah, good point, thank you. Now we are going on to our most important
segment, which is team identity. Let’s go. Voice activators? [participant:] Voice activators sounds a little
mechanic. [Abel:] Activate voice? [Mike:] Power of our voice? [Kate:] Power activators [Abel:] Activate Power? [Kate:] Activate Power [Kimberly:] Activate Power, Power Activators,
Activate Power. [Kate:] How about Power Generators? [Nicole:] That sounds like an electrical – [laugher] [laughing and different voices] [Nicole:] I like your back and forth with
activate power, power activator. [Mike:] Voices of Power? [Abel:] Oh. Activate Voices of Power? [Mike:] Oooh! [Abel:] What’s that? AVP? [group starts chanting and clapping to AVP! AVP!] [Abel:] Alright! Ok, so Activate Voices of Power. Do we like that name? [All:] Yeah! [Abel:] Alright, that’s a cool name. Ok, so, so, we ha- let’s get a rhythmic
chant. Let’s use our bodies, Let’s make some
music. [People banging on the table, singing and
clapping trying to find a good rhythm.] [Group:] AVP! AVP! AVP! Activate! Voices! Of Power! [Abel:] Again! [Group:] Activate! Voices! Of Power! Activate! Voices! Of Power! AVP! AVP! [Marshall:] Yeah, how about this. I think we should acknowledge the folks who
are among us who participated, Anita, Kate — Kate was always the objector over there
— who’d I miss? Yeah. So, yeah, um, what’d you make of this? The chants, and the name? Why do it? [audience member:] Physical. [Marshall:] Yeah, what else. [audience member:] A sense of community. [Marshall:] Absolutely. What else? Huh? [audience member:] Pride. [Marshall:] Yeah, really. Yeah? [audience member:] It takes the awkwardness
out of it. [Marshall:] Takes the awkwardness out of it,
yeah. What else? [audience member:] It gets you energized. [Marshall:] Energized, indeed. You know, it’s — we focus so much sometimes
on the “head” part that we forget about the “heart” part. You remember we talked about head, heart,
and hands. And it’s so important to continue to nourish
the heart because it’s sort of a way of celebrating and honoring the values that are
being enacted through this work. And it’s a way of honoring — honoring our
own commitments, the values we hold, and — and really the joy we can experience with others
when we work together to really change the world. And so it’s not a trivial thing at all. Uh, it’s interesting, this “chant” exercise,
at first people will say, “Oh, that’s a …” — We’ve done it with people in
China, we’ve done it with people in Japan, we’ve done it in the Middle East — everybody
does it in their — they bring their own cultural inflection but everybody gets the significance
of celebration. And celebration is not just like going to
have a party in the bar — uh, that’s ok, but celebration is coming up with these kinds
of experiences that name us, we share it, and we get to express it and really savor
the good work we’re doing. So, uh, again, we should have an applause
the team that put this together, they were up until 5 this morning, doing the final clips
on this thing and working on this, so — where’s Cecily? Uh, is she here? Where? Our guru, our film guru. Yeah, see, this is the first time we’ve
tried — do you think this works? [Audience:] Yeah. [Marshall:] I mean, it’s the first time
we’ve tried to do clips and then debrief, and then clips and debrief. You know, we can’t do it everybody practice,
but, we thought it would be good to try, so again, let’s have an applause for the folks
that did this. [applause] [Marshall:] So, I really should teach you
how to applaud, do we have time for that? Have a minute for that? I’m gonna take just a minute. You know, when I worked for the farm workers,
we used to applaud, uh, just like you did, and a guy named Luis Valdez, who started the
Teatro Campesino, he brought music and theater and so forth to our movement, and he said,
“You know, you’re this movement, you talk about being united and all this stuff, but
you applaud chaotically.” [laughter] And he says, “You gotta, you
know, communicate what you’re about!” So he taught us how to applaud like this. [slow clapping gradually speeding up] Now for many years that was known as the aplauso
campesino and any place in California you heard that people said, “Oh, that’s the
farm workers, that’s the farm workers.” We were doing a Latino Camp Obama in 2008
in New Mexico — a young woman had been working in the Filipino community and she said, “Yeah,
that’s nice, but we don’t think it has sufficient solidarity.” Oh, ok, so this is what we did. Join me. [slow clapping gradually speeding up] [clap] That’s it. See it’s all about the coordination at the
end. So, um, it’s about time to wrap up and we
have now a few moments for some questions, reflections, observations. The chart that you see, ‘identify – develop
– recruit’ is what it indicates is that what we focused on tonight is launching a
team. But the work of leadership development is
ongoing. And unless the work of leadership development
is built into the way in which the work of a campaign is organized itself — it’s not
about one person doing it all, it’s about finding opportunities to create spaces in
which people can earn leadership by holding responsibility. Not just in this initial core group but in
the next tier and the next tier, even if it’s like wearing a button, coming to an event. Figuring out how to make as many people as
possible part of the action. Often in economic enterprises the issue is
how do you do things with fewer people, ‘cause people are a cost. In organizing it’s a question of how can
you do it with the most people ‘cause people are viewed as an asset. Because it’s investment in that asset that
grows our power. And it grows our capacity. So that’s what ‘identify – develop – recruit’
as an ongoing commitment — that creates the infrastructure to do the great strategy, to
do the actions, and all the rest of it. So, we have questions? What do we have? What am I – Oh, here. Sorry. [Kathryn:] Thank you. We’re going to start with some questions
from our online community that’s watching. [Marshall:] Oh, sorry. We can come back to you. [Kathryn:] We’ll have time for in-person
questions soon. So our first question comes from Sarah on
Facebook, who asked, ‘Is there an optimal number of people to have on a team? [Marshall:] 4.3. [laughter] No, a leadership team – for a team
to actually function as a team, probably from five to seven, something like that, in that
domain. That’s not meant to be restrictive, because
then each person can have their own team and you can sort of – we call it ‘snowflake’
out. Like that thing there. But if it gets too big it just doesn’t work
as a team. And so it’s figuring out how you can structure
stuff so that responsibility is allocated in ways that it’ll work. [Kathryn:] Our second question comes from
Kim on Twitter, who asked: Do you have tools for helping people narrow their shared purpose
when there is so much to choose from in the who, what, and how? [Marshall:] Yeah, have a long meeting. [laughter] Um, have a good facilitator. See, the other thing is that this exercise
presumes that there has already been some work done by sharing personal stories, by
having one on one meetings, by learning more about your group, about what are the values
that you share, about what interests you have, about what resources you bring. And that background or foundation for doing
this kind of exercise I think is indispensable. And so that helps create a context where you
have a sense of how to focus. Also ask Abel to come be your facilitator. That’s also very helpful! [Kathryn:] Our next – our final question,
sorry, comes from Caitlin on Twitter, who asked, “How do you turn online enthusiasm
into in-person action, and where do you begin in a group that’s already 13,000 people?” [laughter] [Marshall:] Uhh… what would Jethro tell
Moses about this? I… Yeah… I mean, how do you turn online enthusiasm
into… you gotta get the people together. I mean, now I teach a distance learning class
with about 120 people in some 20 countries, 25 countries. Now, we use the internet for people to be
able to see each other and form relationships with each other. It’s the anonymity that makes it so hard
to create collective capacity online. And so the visual, the connections, the most
important thing is attention to the fact that relationship-building is fundamental to this
whole work. It’s foundational. And so creating venues where that can happen. And yeah, you get to scale. I mean, You know in the Obama Campaign we
got to a big scale with teams. I mean, and it can be done. It just takes focus and attention. [Kathryn:] Thank you so much. [Marshall:] And do we have time for — [Kathryn:] We’re going to get to in-person
questions – I’m going to bring down – Oh, we’re going to go to in-person questions. Great. [Nina:] Thank you Marshall. My name is Nina, I’m an organizer with Indivisible
Sommerville. [Marshall:] Great. Good. [Nina:] Thanks. So, this is my biggest fear right now, organizing
this group. I’m really scared to set norms. Because I think that we as a culture are incredibly
busy, especially here, and also we are commitment-phobes, right? So I, I…I am worried that if we set expectations
that, we will turn people off of activism and we will turn them off from saying “I
can do this, I can give this small amount. So, yeah, how do you work with that?” [Marshall:] I guess there’s a couple ways
to think about it. One is that we think that people will commit
to things because they’re easy. But if you really think about the things you
commit to, don’t you make those commitments because they’re valuable? In other words, because you think it will
make a difference, that it will matter? And sometimes these things we so trivialize,
it’s sort of you know, like, you know, in one, you know, hour a year, you’re gonna
change a child’s life. Well c’mon, nobody believes that anyway
and nobody would do it. So, it’s making clear the value that’s
created, at this end, but everybody knows there’s no value without some cost. There’s no better future without some sacrifice. I mean that’s reality. Our lives teach us that. And I think being up-front with people, respectful
with people, not underestimating them, not underestimating … not underestimating them,
I think is crucial. Because, you know, you’re not asking them
for a favor; you’re giving them an opportunity to make a difference at a critical time in
this country’s life…and wow, that’s a big deal. That’s a privilege. And so, yeah. We need to take seriously our commitments
to one another so that we honor that. Does that make sense? Good. Yeah, yeah, thank you. Thanks for that. I really appreciate that question because
yeah, that can paralyze us. And this moment is a moment of incredible
opportunity for this country, I mean, you know the question of how to turn resistance
into rebuilding, and reaction into action…I think that’s kinda where we are. And we have an opportunity, if we are able
to take, seize on this motivation that is all over the country right now, and turn it
into a proactive force not just to be against something but for something, I think we have
an opportunity to really rebuild progressive politics in America. And so there is a lot at stake, and it doesn’t
happen just in the big ways; it happens by having clear roles, norms, all the kind of
work you just saw illustrated here. The details really matter. You know, Beethoven paid attention to every
single note. And you know, when it comes to the work of
organizing and leadership and community building, you pay attention to every single note. That’s how you make a beautiful composition,
and that’s where the love is expressed, I think, is in that. I appreciate that question. Do we have time for any…oh, ok…cause uh…ok
there’s one more back there, and then I have a little song I wanna share. [Sidney:] Hi my name is Sidney; I’m with
an organization called Fair Shop For All. Um, I have a question about celebrating a
volunteer and celebrating and action that’s been done. I know that’s something we’ve been trying
to work on and uh I don’t know if you have any advice on that. [Marshall:] Like, how do you mean? [Sidney:] How do you celebrate them and, and,
you know they’ve done and action, they’ve taken, you know they’ve called a representative,
they’ve done something for the organization, so how do we keep them committed to the cause
and celebrate them for what they’ve done? [Marshall:] Alright anybody got ideas? How would you celebrate folks that have been
involved in a campaign? [audience clapping] [Marshall:] Well that’s one. Alright, that’s good. You know, things that bring people together,
that allow them to see what they’ve accomplished, you know, which isn’t just at the end. I mean, when you see progress being made,
it’s sort of a sense of efficacy that I think, and also recognition. Efficacy, recognition, uh but honoring the
work that’s been done. I meant I know so many campaigns are just
awful at that. You know like: “oh I just canvassed.” “oh well we’ll see ya next week.” Not: “what happened?” You know, in other words, the celebrating
goes on all through the process, not just at the end, but honoring the work that’s
being done. Uh but yeah, get em all together. Uh, have a party. No but not just a party I mean have, you know,
skits, no I mean really, look everybody here participates in celebrations of all kinds. Family celebrations, school celebrations,
sports celebrations…we’re very good at imagining that, so uh, thanks for the question. And I think I just want to wrap up with, with
a song. I’m not gonna sing it cause in the 4th grade
I was told: “please just mouth the words” [laughter] that was the end…very terrible
teacher that I had but uh no this was uh this was a song Judy Collins recorded in the sixties
about the Civil Rights movement, and uh, it uses the word “freedom,” because you see
the Civil Rights Movement never called itself the Civil Rights Movement. It called itself the “Freedom Movement.” And Freedom is a much bigger word. It’s about dignity, it’s about community,
it’s about hope, it’s about possibility, it’s about so much more than legal rights. And the song goes like this: “Freedom doesn’t
come like a bird on the wing. Doesn’t fall down like summer rain. Freedom, freedom is a hard-won thing. You have to work for it, you have to fight
for it, day and night for it, and every generation has to win it again. Pass it on to your children brother. Pass it on to your children, sister. They have to work for it, they have to fight
for it. Day and night for it. And every generation has to win it again. Pass it on to your children, pass it on. And, thank you all for the opportunity to
pass it on [clapping]. Oh very good, haha. [Rosi:] Thank you, Professor Ganz, for that
incredibly illuminating and dynamic session. Tonight Professor Ganz led us through the
essential steps to creating long-lasting teams for collective action. The interactive video and accompanying training
tools that he and his team put together for this session will lead your group through
each stage of this process. On the Resistance School website, under Session
Three materials, you’ll find the same agenda and process used in the video model we saw
tonight, as well as a virtual coach to guide you along the way. We’re asking you to engage in that process,
and then report back to us your team’s name, shared purpose and chant — yes, we want to
see the chant! — so we can all begin to see and hear the nation-wide movement we all are
building. Next week, we are honored to be joined by
New York State Assemblyman and Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee, Michael
Blake. For the closing session of the first semester
of Resistance School, Assemblyman Blake will bring together all the lessons we’ve learned
throughout this amazing month. As someone who has spent his career leading
in different realms of the political arena, Assemblyman Blake is the perfect person to
guide us through a session on building strong coalitions. His deep knowledge of the history and undercurrents
of political life in the U.S. will provide insight into what it means to take all of
this from moment to movement. In order to make the most of that session,
you’ll want your leadership team launched and ready for action, so find the Session
Three materials on our site now! Thank you again for joining us tonight! We also want to thank our friends at Varvid
for their video and livestreaming expertise that continues to help us to bring Resistance
School to all of you. We can’t wait to see you all for our fourth
session of Resistance School, when we’ll dive into “How to Sustain the Resistance
Long-Term.” See you next week!

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