November 28, 2017No Comments

Volunteering Values, community in a cultural setting

Volunteers are the beating heart of many organisations lucky enough to have them, and that’s no different at Manchester Museum. Research conducted by Common Cause, tells us that we underestimate how widespread values like compassion, kindness and helpfulness are - and this inadvertently holds us all back from collectively addressing big social and environmental issues like inequality and climate change.

Read more

March 15, 2012No Comments

Following the energy: Taking Common Cause into organisations

How do we bring a Common Cause approach into our organisations when they might not want to consider it?

This was the question that we discussed last night at the 10:10 office in Camden. We heard four different stories from NGO staff who have tried to bring frames and values thinking into their organisation - with varying degrees of success and difficulty. Out of these conversations emerged some principles and patterns that we started to see within each of the stories, which we wanted to share. Read more

January 31, 2012Comments are off for this post.

Campaigners – Join Our Action Learning Process

Through case studies and coming together in community, a growing number of campaigners are exploring how to use a values approach in their work.

As part of that, we have put together an action learning process, which will take campaigners through a five month learning and innovation process.

Who is this for: Campaigners from UK-based medium/large NGOs who interact with the public and/or partner organisations. Each campaigner will need a colleague from their organisation to take part in the process – so that we have 20 campaigners from 10 NGOs. You’ll need to be willing to try new things inside your organisation and to take some risks. If you feel stuck in your work but believe in what’s possible – then this is for you.

When is it happening: Full days on 23rd February, 9-11th March, 12th April, 10th May, 14th June, 12th July. We’ll happily approach your NGO leadership with you to negotiate time to take part.

What is the cost: None, though we will be asking you to host trainings at your organisation (if there is room).

How many hours per week does it need: 2-4 hours a week for reading, sharing insights with your learning partner, and documenting the process.

Download the pdf with full details and details here.

If you'd like to take part or have any questions - please contact me (Casper ter Kuile).

caspertk@gmail.com

07912 491812 Read more

December 12, 2011No Comments

Campaign Case Study: 
The Otesha Project

This second Campaign Case Study is part of a series of stories that will share the experience of organisations that grasp the importance of cultural values in third sector campaigning. We hope that these real-life examples of transformation inspire and empower you to push organisational boundaries and improve how we campaign together.

If you’d like to discuss these stories, or find out more about them, come along to the Campaigning with Common Cause get-together every second Wednesday of the month.

“We’re not tied to what it looks like, we’re tied to what works.”

The Otesha Project UK mobilises young people to create social and environmental change through their everyday lives. They run cycle tours every summer – helping young people to live low-impact lives and inspire others using workshops and theatre in schools, youth clubs and communities. They also incubate youth-led Change Projects and anchor the East London Green Jobs Alliance.

Otesha has five permanent staff, and three interns who are paid a London living wage.

I spoke to Founder and Project Director Liz McDowell and Communications and Fundraising Director Gavin McGregor about their transition to a flat, shared-responsibility structure.

What did they set out to do differently?

Otesha staff have used consensus decision-making for a number of years, and there is a strong culture of facilitation and anti-oppression work. On paper, however, the charity had a CEO and a clear hierarchy. Because of this, it wasn’t always easy to work truly alongside each other; the CEO was responsible for staff appraisals, for example.

The team decided they wanted to move to a flat structure to bring consensus decision-making and shared responsibility to the core of how Otesha works. This would also be reflected in team wages, meaning a flat salary for the whole team.

They recognise that this is an experiment. They know that they probably won’t get it right the first time and are not tied to what it looks like, but are instead tied to what works. “This feels like it’s the way it should be run" explained Liz.

Why move to a flat structure?

  • Share the workload, and thus responsibility: Particularly in the early start-up phase, the workload fell disproportionately on Liz. This additional workload then also meant her voice carried more weight in communal decisions. Now, tasks such as HR, office management, and finance are distributed among the permanent staff, and rotate every two years so that everyone understands and can manage each of the administrative tasks.
  • Organisational resilience: As Liz, the founder, is moving back to her native Canada within the next twelve months, there was a clear need for organisational sustainability. From now on, new staff members are explicitly requested to stay for at least four years to ensure deep knowledge transfer.
  • Reflect their values in practice: As a youth-led education organisation, it was important to give interns more responsibility in the team – they are now part of the consensus decision-making process. Moreover, Otesha uses consensus when they lead trainings and on their cycle tours, so using it as a core team reflected how they trained other groups to work.
  • Focus on impact rather than growth: There is enormous pressure for new enterprises to scale up quickly, with a burst of new employees as fast as possible. A flat model would likely not work on a larger scale, though there are some examples. Otesha sees ‘reaching scale’ as having an impact on the wider sector, not as organisational growth. Their work on green jobs, collaborating with businesses, trade unions, educators and other NGOs is a good example of what this looks like in practice.

What did people think about it?

  • Internally: The team was excited and ready for the transition. Trustees have been supportive, though some apprehension remains. What brought a lot of support from the board was the focus on organisational sustainability.
  • Externally: There’s been a lot of interest from academics - a group of MBA students created the initial proposal for their new organisational structure, for example. Other social enterprises have questioned the model.

What surprised the team most?

For Liz, the transition felt like a huge weight off her shoulders, the job itself became much more enjoyable. Before the change, her leadership role could often become a lonely one, but the team feels much more like a community now. “Everyone is in everything together”.

Another surprise has been that this transition seems to be unique. “These are values that so many charities sign up to – to find out that we’re trailblazing is really surprising.”

What have they learned?

  • Involve everyone from the beginning – especially the trustees. People care about what they help to create.
  • This process doesn’t work well with freelancers joining for short amounts of time. A stable core team is fundamental.
  • Have patience. This is a slow process, and if it is sped up unnaturally, it will fail.

Otesha has embedded its organisational values into the every-day decision making processes, meaning that a culture of collaboration and shared responsibility will endure beyond any individual staff members. By weaving together ways of working that encourage equality and friendship, Otesha is building a network where intrinsic values are prioritised.

What does this mean for us as change-makers?

If we want to work with values, it is clear that Common Cause has implications not just for what we do in the 'outside world', but also how we run our organisations internally. Organisational structures in the third sector - including management structures, decision-making processes, pay-structures and incentive schemes - will all have an impact on the values that third sector employees come to hold as important.

When we start to incorporate an awareness of cultural values into our activities, we will need to also begin to examine the values embedded in our own internal processes.

Contact

Gavin McGregor

info@otesha.org.uk

October 25, 20112 Comments

Opening the ethical debates in advertising

We’ve suggested elsewhere that there are two broad categories of response to Common Cause.

The first is to focus on the implications for the campaigns and communications that we are already producing: how might we campaign on biodiversity conservation, or disability rights, or cancer research, while simultaneously helping to strengthen those values upon which systemic concern about these issues must come to be built?

The second is to ask: what might we begin to do collectively, across the third sector, to strengthen the cultural importance of intrinsic values and reduce the pervasiveness of extrinsic values? Here there are many opportunities for new joint campaigns. One of the most obvious – but it is only one – is on advertising.

There is persuasive evidence that advertising serves to reinforce the cultural importance of extrinsic values – and to undermine the importance that we place on intrinsic values. As such, it will operate to reduce public concern about a wide range of social and environmental issues. This is an effect which is likely to be further strengthened by the fact that advertising is so pervasive – we literally can’t avoid it; and by the fact that much of it is targeted at children – people who are likely to be more vulnerable to its influence on values.

PIRC and WWF-UK have today launched a report highlighting the evidence for the cultural impacts of advertising. George Monbiot has written about it here. And you can download the report below.

We’ll now be hosting a conversation – with people from the third sector and business alike – on the cultural impacts of advertising and possible responses. Do get in touch if you would like to be involved in this!

[wpfilebase tag=file path='reports/Think Of Me As Evil - PIRC-WWF Oct 2011.pdf']

©2018 - 2019 Common Cause Foundation

©2018 - 2019 Common Cause Foundation

©2018 - 2019 Common Cause Foundation

©2018 - 2019 Common Cause Foundation

©2018 - 2019 Common Cause Foundation

handmade by