5 Practices Extinction Rebellion demonstrate that are worth emulating.

October 14, 2019

I’ve tried my best while founding two companies to make time to march and support those marching at Fridays for Future & Extinction Rebellion (XR).

 

I’ve been amazed by how effective XR are at community marketing, agile organisation, and growth.

 

Maybe trying to save the ducking planet, is all the motivation they need to succeed, but I'm getting the sense these 5 practices contribute.

 

1.) If the data are on your side. Have courage and take a stand.

2.) Have a clear story, delivered persuasively.

3.) Perfect is the enemy of good.

4.) Diversity is a strength.

5.) Manage your communities well.

 

1.) If the data are on your side. Have courage and take a stand.

 

If you’ve ever come up with a well researched and costed proposal, only to have it ignored because of the inertia of politics and the status quo, you’ll understand climate scientists’ frustrations.

 

 

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

 

If you know you’re right, have the courage to be unreasonable, or at least argue your case with enough conviction to give someone the opportunity to explain why you’re wrong.

 

Although facts don’t care about feelings, people do, which is why it’s not enough to have the data on your side, you need:

 

2.) A clear message, persuasively delivered.

 

If you’re trying to change minds and behaviours (otherwise known as sales) facts alone won’t cut it.

 

What’s needed is a clear, emotionally resonant story, and XR’s storytelling delivers.

 

XR’s demands on Climate Change are:

  1. Tell the Truth

  2. Act Now

  3. Form and Listen to a Citizens Assembly

 

Credit to XR, Link here

 

Their non violent approach has made it much harder for the mainstream media (and the police) to shut them down.

Over the weekend when interactions with the Police started to get more confrontational, the crowd started chanting “This is for your children”. 

Source Teen Vogue (who are also awesome)

 

From holding a funeral for London Fashion Week, to writing an open letter to the advertising industry to do more, they’re succeeding at getting the message out there, and it’s working. Volunteers man every conceivable social media channel from TikTok to Telegram, and they’re set to crowdfund over £1,000,000 with support from Radiohead and 18,000 other donors.

 

 

3.) Perfect is the enemy of good

 

A great mantra for both product development and political movements. Extinction Rebellion and its members are not perfect. They know it, and they embrace it.

 

That is their strength, not their weakness.

 

They AVOID BLAMING AND SHAMING.

 

To get mass adoption of their ideas, they've avoided the dreary Stalinist dogmatism that stifles too many social causes. Everyone is welcome to form an autonomous 8-12 person affinity group, and as long as they remain non-violent, and have read the principles, they’re welcome to operate however the members so choose on variables such as:

 

1.) Arrestability

2.) Style

3.) Spirituality

 

As a popular movement with broad appeal, many of their members drive cars, and fly abroad. Many will eat meat, and buy things from Amazon (often made in China). All are flawed humans.

 

Pointing out the flaws of the individuals neither negates their cause, nor the overwhelming scientific consensus behind their concerns.

 

I’m writing another blog on the effects of cognitive dissonance when actions misalign with values, so let’s pause that discussion, and just say it’s a fascinating contributor to why people get angry on social media.

 

But many organisations are so obsessed with having everyone follow the same rules and values, they homogenise culture and damage themselves more than their critics ever could.

 

They demand groupthink, forgetting that:

 

3.) Diversity is a strength:

 

A ubiquitous mass of people thinking the same isn’t a functional organisation, it’s a cult.

 

XR is comprised of groups of doctors, lawyers, scientists (and the stereotypical students and aging hippy types) but they’re much more diverse than the cliché would have it.

 

Those that lament the death of meritocracy, often overlook the substantive research that diverse teams are more creative and successful.

 

One of the key ways to encourage and maintain diverse membership and thought is through:

 

5.) Effective Community Management

 

Their communities are broad, deep, varied, and agile.

 

In the words of their own values “BASED ON AUTONOMY AND DECENTRALIZATION”

 

“Breaking down hierarchies of power for more equitable participation.”

 

Most countries and many cities have their own group and sub groups that members can join.

As they grow, the continually build new autonomous affinity groups with specific events and social media communication channels for different interest and professional groups such as:

 

Lawyers

Doctors

Teachers

Bikers

Trade Unionists

Engineers

Vegans

 

If you’ve spent any time on a Facebook community page (or Twitter in general) you’ll see how vital this diversification is is to keeping conversations positive.

 

What to do when the Marxists & the Vegans disagree on what the most important issue is, and the spiritual gurus don’t like all the political talk? Form three sub groups, social media channels, and separate events! Each group functions autonomously. They’re broadly aligned on the big values. So far XR's growth has been far too fast to manage top down, so let them diversify.

 

The series of tweets here shows just how broad and thoughtful their attempts to work with diverse communities is.
 

“Who are the pillars of your community; the glue that holds everyone together?

 

Parents, faith groups, small businesses, local government, charities, tradesmen, libraries, schools, farmers markets.”

 

It’s most telling that XR’s plan for community isn’t about XR.

 

It’s baffling how many CEOs want to rapidly grow their companies but think they can maintain oversight and control. XR shows another way.

 

Time will tell whether the movement will grow too broad. Will the media try to portray them as having unclear objectives (as they did for Occupy Wall Street and Les Gilets Jaunes?

 

I imagine they will make another tactical retreat in the coming weeks, and come back next year, bigger, better funded, and even harder to ignore.

 

If you read this far. Please leave a comment that starts with some punctuation, I’m curious to see whether people have the attention spans to read content this long, and I’m pretty sure the climate change denying gammons won’t finish the headline before they’re triggered to write an angry comment! ;)

 

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