The power of campaigning
It seems that these days ‘campaigning’ is rather a maligned skillset, surrounded as we are by elections and campaigns of terrors. It is a very backhanded compliment to say of a colleague or politician that they are ‘an exceptional campaigner’ – it implies they are better at the war than the peace, better at winning an argument than implementing the consequences. But reconfiguring your corporate goals as campaign targets can be transformational and deserves more uses as a strategic tool.
First, campaigns take place on a human scale. Sprints (for those of you have had the mixed pleasure) have a frenetic energy, determined to create change within a week or two. But few people can maintain the enthusiasm, let alone the energy, to commit to this every working day. And while I am a great believer in ambitious, long-term corporate strategy, I also accept that few employees get out of bed in the morning to hit a goal that lies a decade hence. A campaign can be a happy middle ground – lasting somewhere between four weeks and year and feeling more real, more weighty than a weekly dash to the finish, and more solid and tangible than lofty 15-year ambitions.
Second, humans like to work towards goals. What is a campaign? According to the Cambridge Dictionary, to campaign is “to organize a series of activities to try to achieve something”. There are therefore two key features of a campaign: a clear aim and an organised path to achieving it. Marketers and fundraisers are all too familiar with this language and it drives them to innovate each Christmas, each awareness month, each time the numbers are down and must be improved. Clarity of purpose does wonders for motivation.
And finally, crucially, campaigns are inherently about change. I’m not advocating change for change’s sake. There is no need to constantly reinvent the wheel. But all organisations require some forward momentum. Without it, they do not spot new opportunities, nor fend off emerging threats – the landscape in which an organisation sits will never be static. Whatever the purpose of your organisation there will be something that requires change: changing the opinions of policymakers, changing the tastes of consumers, changing the availability of key supply materials, changing the carbon footprint of your factories, changing the culture of presenteeism in your offices…
Campaigns provide a structure with which to drive and explain change, they bring together disparate teams and motivate them with a common goal. And that is why we need to be using campaigns beyond advertising, beyond fundraising, beyond the election.
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