Flipping the Script is a tool for building confidence in one on one conversations in community organizing.
This exercise, developed by Steve Hughes, is a tool to teach a fundamental practice of organizing: the 1:1 conversation. It is a light-hearted exercise designed both to engage peoples’ creativity and to diffuse nervousness about the idea of doing face to face outreach work. The exercise is loosely modelled on the Freirian idea of “problem-posing” education, and is highly adaptable to most any organizing context.
How does this tool support leaderful movements?
The 1:1 conversation is at the heart of the organizing process. Through these conversations organizers seek to identify “organic leaders” (i.e. people who play leadership roles – often informally – in their community or workplace.) In the organizing process, true organic leaders rarely “just walk through the door,” and in fact sometimes the people who step forward to take action first are actually NOT leaders in their communities!
Therefore, the organizer’s job is to find the real leaders, which is a process of investigation and mapping the relationships that exist in a community.
This “Flipping the Script” exercise is a great way to familiarize participants in a training with a key organizing practice. Gaining confidence and skills in doing 1:1’s is essential when you want someone to get the hang of organizing competences.
Many beginning organizers are nervous about doing 1:1 conversations. They may feel shy or feel like they are disturbing people. They may prefer to set up an info table or call a meeting and see who comes. They may even feel that one-on-one outreach is somehow manipulative. In order for the organizing process to advance, these false narratives need to be addressed head on.
Organizers need to learn that their job is to find organic leaders in the community or workplace, and that those people rarely self-select and volunteer themselves for a campaign.
Rather, organic leaders are identified through the process of 1:1 outreach because they are the people that other people refer to.
When you hear someone say “have you talked to so-and-so? What do they think?”, then you know you are on the trail of an organic leader.
Therefore, the 1:1 conversation is an essential tool for building leaderful movements. It starts from the premise that we build with the leaders that already exist in a community.
This exercise, Flipping the Script on an Organizing Conversation: Example hand-out, is useful as an introduction to 1:1 conversations. It can be funny, and it opens up space to playfully work through the nervousness people feel.
By presenting participants with short, scripted dialogues of organizing conversations that go badly, small groups of learners are then able to refocus their attention on how they can make the conversation go better. In doing so, they get to laugh at the worst-case-scenarios that many of them fear, while collectively problem-solving how to do 1:1’s in a more effective manner.
- Organizing: People, Power and Change – The One on One 1:1 Meeting
- Organising: Start Here
- Organizing: People, Power, Change
- Organising Stories and Lessons from the 350 Organising Story Telling Lab
- Guide to Organizing from the Leading Change Network
- High Trees Community Organising Self Assessment Toolkit
- More from the Leaderful Organising Collection
- Campaigning - Grassroots
- Communities_Community building / engagement
- Group skills
- Organising - Community
- Organising - One on Ones 1:1