[Cases] Catalyzing Collective Insight: Advocacy Coalition

THE NEED. A certain industry’s practices were putting communities at physical risk, and a global coalition of advocacy groups devoted to solving the problem had not found a way to mobilize change. The movement was fragmented, demoralized, and directionless.

OUR APPROACH. We held semi-structured conversations with core leaders and observers to gather individual stories and evidence and identify key causal factors. We then used whole-system assessment techniques to surface system-level stories and hidden dynamics.

VALUE. Four blind spots were discovered: two related to industry priorities, two related to assumptions in their own strategy.

“I LOVE the ‘four stories’ map. It perfectly captures the struggles we face and gives me hope that people can be prompted to take action.” —Executive Director, coalition secretariat

LEARNING. We masked the complexity of our systems research behind simple “system stories.” That was effective at helping leaders understand their movement’s stagnation and see new possibilities for bridging the competing narratives within the coalition—and between the coalition and industry. We are continuing to explore those possibilities by extending the conversation beyond leadership so these insights can put realism and energy behind their collective efforts.