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Hearts and minds is more propaganda, here we’re talking about “Objective Focused Influence”

There are models for how to do this and there are differences between military and nonprofit approach. A lot of concepts the same, some terms are different but lots learning to be done form each other.

Session approach: Discussion between differences and pick apart an example

1. Decide what you want to have done. About behavior. How do you start to generate the behavior that you want to see within the organization that you’re trying to influence.

  • e.g. Get the gov’t to use more FOSS
  • More specific: Protect 18F from getting un-funded because that’s where OS developers

2. Which specific human can do that thing? Who makes these decisions. What does gov’t/org look like. What processes do they use. Who has what power within that organization.

  • e.g., OMB writes the budget, that goes to Congress — collaborative process between branches of gov’t.
  • Who specifically would write the 18F budget in the GSA? If we don’t know then that goes to the intelligence side. Who do I know that knows or can find that information. In this case may need to do a FOIA request.
  • Identify the person. Figure out what you want them to do.

3. Find out what that person values — get out of your own shoes. Get as specific as you can. Personas can help here:

  • What do they value
  • Where do they get their information
  • How do they determine which sources of info to trust, or not
  • How do they make decisions // we spend a week on decision-making heuristics

Moving away from hearts and minds to what decision do we want them to make

4. Start plotting out your information strategy.

  • You have the objective, the person that has power to implement, then need to know the process by which that decision gets made. So you repeat this over and over for all of the people that you can find.
  • What meetings happen, who do you know in that organization? Look at information flows… map out the people.

5. Craft the message.

  • Timely
  • Consistent
  • Reinforce whatever decision making and info they already have
  • Measurable (like to have some type of feedback loop in your system — was the message received, impactful, can I use it somewhere else?)

Not just the message you want to send. Focus on the person receiving it. And the action that they can take.

When choosing an objective: Look at implementability.

  • e.g. electoral college
  • How many votes do I need to change?
  • Who are most likely? + take 10 more
  • How do those people decide?
  • Reinforce the message and the thought process — want to show other people are doing this…


  • Gather precendents, legality, ethics
  • You can do a lot of targeting just on open information (Facebook, Twitter for example who they RT, follow)
  • Voting records, congressional record (look at which media gets cited)
  • Triggers or pet issues of target or people close to them
  • SNA

Messages are categorized by means of delivery

  • Human to human
  • Direct communication plotted out specifically step-by-step
  • Planted information they think they shouldn’t have (oh we didn’t lock down that system enough…, provide info to a secondary actor, leak documents to low-level outlet who is more motivated to publish than fact check)

8 e.g., Normandy needed have Hitler decide that the attack was going to happen at Calais.

Potential resources
Spitfire strategies // SmartChart and Activation Point or Nesta’s DIY Toolkit.

More challenging in this environment - Keeping the messages consistent in a grass roots non-hierarchical structure, especially when working with networks/partners/allies

Q - How do you think about contingency planning?
Focus on objective and what are the indicators that going well and warnings if not going well (what happening, what’s not)
Q - What is the capacity needed to do this? When worth investing?
Spending a lot of time with an organization improves your ability to influence them.

Picking influence target — pick the issue that is common to a group of organizations. For example focusing on local control of services when trying to change people’s ability to manage own trash collection. [not sure got that right]

Tip: When sending info to media include good photos because they need those for digital media.

Agenda setting: What are influencer’s needs? Reducing their work load may help… (do the work for them). Create an unbranded image for sharing on social media live streams (e.g., Leonardo de Caprio comments during Paris talks) — got pick up because we made their job easier.

There is no credit to be taken — you want the focus to be on the decisionmaker. Legwork has to be very discreet.

How do we engage and manage a network around local control? How do you build that coalition? At some point it all ends up becoming personal.

A way to do this might be the Constellation Model.

Understanding PROCESSES and capturing and sharing that is super important.