In Common Cause workshops, I often talk about the various lens we each use to view the world. As communicators or campaigners we may already have a well-focused ‘power’ lens. We’re good at asking: “Who makes the decisions?”, “Who influences who?”, “Where is the political leverage?” or “Where does the money lead?”. In addition, we might also have a ‘technical’ lens. For climate campaigners they might see the word through emissions, sources and flows, and options for reducing those emissions. For others it will be a whole other set of technologies or metrics.
There’s obviously also a ‘social’ lens. How people work, why they do what they do and think what they think. This lens relates crucially to the various theories of change (to use the fashionable term). Common Cause doesn’t offer a set of prescribed steps to communicating or campaigning. Rather, it helps us sharpen the focus on our social lens, which to date has been quite shallow and blurred, mainly focusing on attitudes and behaviours.
In focusing the ‘social’ lens, we’re not advocating that people jetison the other lenses. We’re simply arguing that they should be augmented by the ‘social’ one, with values at its core.
We’re often asked to run workshops on Common Cause, to help people pick up and use the ‘social’ lens. We’ve run literally dozens of these for different organisations and networks over the last six months. Our capacity is stretched – but, thankfully, people are increasingly asking us to provide support for them in running these workshops themselves – in taking this material and articulating it in ways that are of importance to their organisations and networks.
So we’ve decided to run a short (2-day) residential course next year, with the aim of equipping anyone with a familiarity with Common Cause, and basic facilitation skills, to take this work to their networks: to help others pick up, and begin to work with, the ‘social’ lens. You can apply for a place on this course here.