As you think through how you’ll solve big problems in the world, you’ll have to know how to pull a smaller, winnable issue out of a huge, unmanageable problem. Your thinking about the problem, issue and solution will be shaped by how you frame them.
For example, let’s say you want to reduce obesity in America. Below are just a few examples of ways you could frame the problem, with each pointing to a different solution:
- Individual behavior—People drink too many 398-oz Big Gulps so let’s tax them.
- Socio-economic factors—Low-income people are surrounded by little other than junk food so let’s raise the minimum wage or change zoning laws to keep fast food out of the area.
- Industry advertising—Coca Cola should not be permitted to advertise at family-friendly minor league baseball games so let’s ban soft drink ads in stadiums.
- Food costs—Subsidies make unhealthy food artificially cheaper than fresh produce so let’s eliminate subsidies.
- Cultural preferences—People from Country X eat way too much fat and are often unhealthy, so let’s not let them in our borders by tightening immigration laws.
- Education—Kids need to know how to eat healthily so we must teach schoolchildren better eating habits.
Though there may be dozens of ways the problem might be solved, some potential solutions will garner more public sympathy than others. Some will be nearly impossible to achieve in your political climate. Some will face greater industry opposition than others. Some will require more resources than you have. If you frame the problem as “industry is making billions in profit at the cost of millions of lives”, that points to a solution that reins in the industry, so you better be ready for a long, expensive fight. Campaigns to achieve each of these possible solutions would be wildly different.
What can you realistically do with your current resources? Do your target policymakers’ constituents have more of an appetite for one over another? What kind of fight are you up for? Happy to discuss or answer questions, as always.
And if you haven’t already downloaded these free guides, you can get them at the links below. If you can think of other tools that would be helpful, please let me know.
One of the biggest challenges organizations have is the campaign planning process. To help serve them, I’ve created a guide of the 11 essential points that I use with organizations, as well as with my grad students at Johns Hopkins. In it you’ll find the critical elements your campaign must have. Use this as an easy reference guide for staff, volunteers & trainers.
- The 10 steps of power mapping
- The questions to ask and where to find answers
- Easy reference guide for staff, volunteers & trainers
- What coalitions do
- Who to recruit
- How to pick the best coalition name
- Attracting diverse coalition partners10
- Leadership & structure of coalitions