A lot of people care about their world. Relatively few do much about it. Small Group Action applies the principles of usability to this, laying out a ‘course of least resistance’ for turning caring into action.
Step one is meeting with friends of yours who also care. This meeting may result in a Small Group.
We’ve already established two qualities of a Small Group:
- small – three to seven members, ideally four or five
- short-term – two or three months at most
There are two other qualities that complete the picture:
- concrete – the group’s goal is to produce one concrete outcome
- consensual – the group’s goal is not predetermined
A concrete goal is an absolute necessity. Without one, the group won’t achieve anything but talk. It doesn’t need to be a major goal, only a real one.
Consensus is also necessary. Everyone in the group has to buy in, or members won’t have a good experience or won’t contribute.
The purpose of the first meeting is to discuss what concrete things can be done, and to choose a goal that everyone buys in to.
By this point, you have a small group, who have chosen an action with a concrete outcome, and who are driven both by their own caring about the issue and by social pressure from group membership to deliver that outcome.
And with all that in place, you’re away. Go do it.
That’s it. There’s lots more detail in my head and scribbled in various notes, but the core idea is there: small groups doing short-term concrete actions. I believe this model is one of the most friendly ways we can coax ourselves into action.
Someone who tried out aspects of this approach called it a “three month we care” project. The three month limitation makes SGA feel safe – it’s easy to jump in to a project wholeheartedly, instead of with a sinking feeling that I’m starting something I won’t be able to sustain. And the whole project assumes, rightly, that lots of people out there do give a damn – they just don’t have a friendly way of acting on it.
But – and this is a big but – SGA falls apart unless five people for three months can actually produce something worthwhile. More on this in the next post…