- The Creative Activist Toolkit
In short, they help changemakers avoid three of the most common mistakes in early stages of changemaking, namely:
Locking in on ideas too quickly
Problem solving requires creativity and, to be creative, you need both divergent and convergent thinking. Innovators need to stay open-minded to different possibilities and different solutions before locking in on one. However, most people feel lucky to come up with just one idea. Afraid they can’t come up with more, they commit to it too quickly and defend it against any and all critique. Changemakers can do themselves a huge favor by staying open to different solutions and only commit to one when they have to.
Focusing on outputs rather than outcomes
What you do (outputs) is different from the difference you make (outcomes). Most people don’t make this distinction. They assume the more they tutor, volunteer, fundraise, and lobby, etc., the more impact they’re making for other people and the environment. So, they set goals to maximize their outputs. But, social change is ultimately about outcomes — how people are better off or how the environment is better off. Often, maximizing outcomes is not about doing more but taking different actions. So, set goals based on outcomes, not outputs.
Setting unrealistic goals
We tend to assume there’s one ultimate solution to a problem and our job as changemakers is to figure out and implement that one solution. However, that kind of thinking can easily spin out of control. It can lead us to develop solutions that we have no hope of realizing, given our abilities and resources. Instead of scaling down expectations, we scale up: we’ll raise more money, stretch out the timeline, create a killer app, etc. Without concrete results, momentum and good will are quickly exhausted and one’s project dies a quiet death. Instead of reaching for the moon, achieve some short-term impact using available resources and use your early success to fuel more ambitious dreams.
I don’t pretend this Creative Activist Toolkit can provide even a fraction of the guidance you’ll need as changemakers but I hope it makes the journey a bit less intimidating.