New campaign planning handbook for Canadian union activists

The Toronto & York Region Labour Council has just published Mike Balkwill and Rob Fairley’s campaign planning guide for activist leaders and union organizers.

Download Mike and Rob’s “The Campaign Planning Handbook”.

Written by and for activists, the beautifully designed and pragmatic 32 page guide contains some useful tools and tips, including:

  • Facilitation techniques, such as setting ground rules, (strategic planning sessions help when folks listen to each other), and posting a campaign event calendar on the wall so participants can add information as they go;
  • A summary of effective campaign planning tools, like the forcefield analysis which helps activists assess their political landscape to identify key moments, threats and opportunities;
  • A summary of elicitive questions to help you assess your progress throughout the campaign (and this is helpful as there are few resources out there that help activists re-assess and re-evaluate their progress mid-way through the campaign); and
  • A tool to assess member support, as in which union members are with, neutral, or against you.

I especially like the diagrams.  Check out this diagram, which is designed to help your group identify the secondary targets that have leverage over your primary target.

And then there’s the authors interesting interpretation of Training for Change’s Spectrum of Allies tool.   I have never isolated the primary and secondary targets like this diagram does.
I’m sure the authors had a pretty strict page limit, however, I would have enjoyed reading some case studies to get a better grasp of how these tools are used in planning sessions.  I would have also appreciated some discussion about the realities of trying to introduce tools like this into a group that has a culture of conducting planning sessions in a very traditional way.   And when I say traditional I’m talking about the group that sits around a table and talks and talks and talks.  Everyone but the newer activists know that the key campaigning decisions have already been decided by a few key campaigners in advance.   Of course, people can find value in these tools simply by reading the guide and keeping these concepts and ideas in mind when they go about planning in a more traditional way.