Imagine the future: setting goals

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Imagine the future: setting goals

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Time needed:

60-120 minutes

Goal or purpose:

  • to 'imagine the future' and develop steps to get there;

  • to develop campaign goals, including short and medium range goals.

Preparation/materials:

Flip-chart and markers

How it's done/facilitator's notes:

To 'imagine the future' start by placing a vision the group shares at the top of a piece flip chart paper. Underneath, write goals that the group thinks would need to be achieved to make that vision a reality. Ask the group to choose one of the goals that is most appropriate for them to work towards, and to assign a date in the future when it could be reached.

Encourage the group to imagine they are already in that year; their vision has been fulfilled! Ask the question: what conditions had to be met for the goal to become a reality? What changes needed to take place? How did people's attitudes and behaviours change? Were there changes in government policy, or in other institutions? When did these changes happen? Place the important changes on the paper, beginning with the goal and working backwards from the goal (the future) to where you are now (the present).

Once you have a complete picture, all the way from the campaign goal to the present moment, it might be helpful to prioritise the changes you need to achieve. The table below can be helpful when doing this; give each change a number from zero to four.

For achieving or preventing us from achieving our goal this change is...

4

3

2

1

0

sufficient (to achieve the goal, this factor alone is sufficient)

necessary (to achieve our goal this factor is indispensable, but other factors are also needed)

influential (this factor has the potential to influence other – sufficient or necessary – factors positively or negatively)

of some relevance, but can (probably) be ignored.

irrelevant (neutral)

Changes which, on closer examination, are irrelevant should be taken off the chart, because they do not contribute to achieving the campaign goal or vision.

In addition, you might add changes which would be threatening to the vision or campaign goal, and which need to be avoided. This can help to make you aware of dangers to your strategy. An exercise like the pillars of power or spectrum of allies can be support this process.

Encourage the group to reflect on each change, moving further from the goal (the future) back to the present situation, looking at the relevant changes, and what changes needed to happen to bring this change about. Do this until you get back to where you are 'now'.

By the end of this process, you will have a string of parallel and intertwined changes, which will give you a good idea of what the short and medium range goals for a campaign might be. A campaign might only focus on some of these strings of changes if, for example, other organisations are working on other aspects of the change.

This exercise is based on Elise Boulding's “imagine a world without weapons” workshops, which asked participants to imagine what a 'world at peace thirty years from now' would look like.

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