These pages will outline the process by which UK strategy can be defined, as designed by the Strategy Stewardship Team in October 2020.
- Defining the Scope of Work
- Strategy Working Groups
- UK Strategy Assembly Mandate
- Strategy Development Team (SDT)
- Strategy Process & Review Cycle
- Roadmap for Stages 3 & 4
What is Strategy?
The role of the XRUK strategy is to unify the movement under a common purpose that will take us closer to achieving our primary goal: the three demands. It aims to be a guiding light in which rebels can find the information needed to employ their own knowledge, creativity, and passion to deliver a diverse, decentralised, but coordinated rebellion.
For a more detailed definition of strategy and how it differs from tactics please check out Our Shared Vocabulary.
Designing this Process
In designing this process, the Strategy Stewardship Team (SST) has used convergent facilitation to identify what the movement needs from a strategy process. SST has gathered learnings from the last strategy process and brought together The Hive, UKSupport (including Operations, CoLiberation, and the Justice Steering Group) to hear proposals on the ideal make-up of the strategy assembly.
The XRUK Strategy Review Process is intended to act as a ‘good enough’ starting point. It has been designed to be a more ‘always-on’, flexible, representative, and responsive process than we’ve had in the past. But it is only a starting point.
As the UK Strategy Assembly (UKSA) and Strategy Development Team (SDT) engage with this process over time, they will learn, adapt, and re-shape things as necessary. Nothing is fixed. There is no single ‘right way’ to do things. The only certainty is the need for the movement to constantly evolve the way it approaches strategy if it is to remain effective in a rapidly changing world.
Some of the tensions addressed in this process:
In collecting feedback from the movement on the 2020 strategy and the process by which it came together some of the tensions below were identified. This new strategy process looks to address each of these.
Strategy development is not transparent and inclusive enough, leading to strategies that don’t meet the needs of the whole movement.
No consistent, systematic use of movement feedback and other data sources, leading to a disputable evidence-base and limited use of the movement’s insights.
Iteration time for strategy development is too long - leading to out-of-date strategies not in tune with the current political and social context.
No mechanism for rapid strategic responses, leading to a lack of orientation for the movement in times of crisis and uncertainty.
Strategy process not integrated into the SOS, leading to a lack of legitimacy, too little attention, and susceptibility to representational bias.
Responsibilities for facilitation of the process and for its outcomes were not separated - leading to a lack of accountability and incentives for blame-shifting.
No continuity in the work on the actual strategy content, leading to a loss of knowledge and disconnected strategic approaches.
No systematic external input, leading to a lack of expertise and failure to compensate for confirmation bias.
Defining the Scope of Work
It is important for us to know what this process is trying to do, and what it cannot do. Therefore we have the following definitions of what can be affected by decisions within the Strategy Process and what cannot.
Abstract concepts and considerations that directly impact strategy development and can be scheduled as part of the strategic discussions and realistically resolved within the timeframe.
- E.g. specific adjustments to Theories of Change (ToC) or emphasis given to individual demands.
Concrete strategy development work.
- A review of the Power Together 2020 Strategy (long form) document. Given the scale and speed of change since this document was created, what can stay the same, what needs to change, and what can be taken away.
- Insight into the current internal and external environment to inform discussions and decisions and provide a basis and rationale for change.
Strategy writing & consolidation.
- The SDT has the mandate to draft strategy proposals and the UKSA is there to reflect on these, ammend and consolidate them into a final working product
Out of Scope
- Vision Setting:
- Vision, Purpose, Principles and Values. Each of these are held by the Guardianship & Visioning Circle (G&V) within UK Support. Any conserns or amendments to such core parts of the XR DNA should be brough to G&V and not the UKSA.
- More fundamental revisions of Theories of Change or Demands that need to be taken out of the strategy process as other groups are working on them, or the complexity will require a longer series of discussions etc.
- Tactical Campaign Planning:
- Planning at the level of specific tactics or timelines. The mandate for operationalising the Strategy remains with the Operations Circle within UK Support. Should rebels wish to be involved in this work you can connect via the Operations Reception.
Strategy Working Groups
Core Working Groups
The following Groups are those definied by this strategy proccess and hold a key role in the design of the strategy. Other Working Groups will be involved either in supporting the smooth running of the process or represented by Rebels within the assembly.
- UK Strategy Assembly (UKSA) - 20 strategy leads representing national circles/groups, nations, and regions, to represent the UK movement, connect strategy leads, decide about strategy.
- Strategy Development Team - 5-7 strategy reps elected from the UKSA with the option to recruit no more than two role holders from outside of the UKSA. To develop strategy and rapid strategic response, and provide tools for implementation.
- External Advisory Panel - Providing expert strategy (and other) advice, counsel, and support.
- Facilitation Group - A pool of internal and external facilitators able to support team set-up, orientation, governance, and decision-making.
UK Strategy Assembly Mandate
- Connect strategy leads throughout XRUK to facilitate an ongoing UK-wide dialogue about strategy.
- Enable strategy representatives on the UKSA to co-create XRUK strategy through close consultation with, and involvement of the national circles and groups/nations/regional/local groups they represent.
- Elect and oversee SDT - key architects of the strategy document.
- Consolidate insights and feedback from the circles and groups as relevant to the strategy review process.
- Communicate regularly with the wider movement, keeping them informed of the process and its progress, and how movement feedback and consultation is being incorporated into the strategy review process.
- Approve XRUK's 3 x yearly strategy review proposals.
- 6 reps from nations/regions (elected by The Hive).
- 5 reps from minority voices (elected by CoLiberation Project and Justice Steering Group).
- 4 reps from Operations.
- 3 reps from other UK Support sub-circles (elected by UKSupport).
- 1 rep from XR Youth.
- 1 rep from International Support Network.
Appointing UKSA Representatives
It will be left to the circles/groups to decide whom to appoint, but SST would encourage groups to think about how they would like to see themselves represented in an iterative strategy process that will review and adapt UK-wide strategic intentions in 3-monthly cycles. The purpose of a movement-wide strategy is to help XR achieve its primary goal - delivery of the three demands. A successful strategy will therefore require an understanding of, and focus on, the diverse groups of external stakeholders that we need to identify, analyse, reach and influence.
Timing of nominations to UKSA
Nominations for the UKSA representative were submitted to the SST by 9th November 2020, roles were shared betwen nominees and the final assembly met for the first time on Novemeber 24th.
Ways of Working
- Work with SST, Organism Development Project (ODP) and SOS to define and elect roles as required to fulfill the mandate e.g EC, IC, secretary, someone to update the movement on progress, someone to book and brief facilitators.
- Agree ways of working within the team and with the circles/groups they represent.
- It is recommended that the UKSA meet weekly during the 3 x yearly review process (March, July, Nov) and monthly thereafter or as required e.g. when SDT is dealing with unanticipated events.
- Movement consultation and communication must be enshrined into the ways of working. It is critical to the successful outcome of this strategy review process.
- Work with SDT to understand what type of feedback or insight they will need from the movement.
- Work with Feedback & Learning Culture to agree how the movement will be consulted and plot against timeline to allow for advanced notice and preparation.
- The aim must be to provide SDT with consolidated input as it will not have the time or capacity to process multiple information streams.
- Agree on the facilitation team and approach facilitators to gauge interest/availability. Sufficient notice for facilitators must be built into the process.
- Work with M&M regarding the strategy launch externally and internally. Plans should be agreed well in advance of the launch date.
NB. The UKSA must reflect on the ways in which XR UK does and doesn’t engage with the international XR community, as well as on the impacts of its actions beyond the UK.
Strategy Development Team (SDT)
To produce and revise drafts of an overall Strategy for XRUK that:
- Will unify the movement under a common purpose that will take us closer to achieving our 3 demands.
- Is in keeping with the 10 Principles and Values and the Strategy Assembly’s mandate.
- Is agreed to by the Strategy Assembly.
- Write proposals for XRUK's overarching strategy based on, and in accordance with, the movement's needs (as determined by the UKSA consultation process).
- Consult with the external advisory board on strategic questions. Carefully consider all advice with the intention of acting on it.
- To convene and respond to unanticipated situations that arise outside of the planning cycle and impact the strategy or require a strategic response, e.g. Covid-19.
- Develop and maintain a set of strategy planning guidelines and tools to help circles and groups to implement the strategy and develop their own strategy and action plans.
No Domain at present.
What will the SDT do?
1. Generate proposals
Generate proposals for the Strategy that fulfil the criteria from Phase 1 of the Convergent Facilitation.
Ideas can come from the Strategy Assembly members, from discussions during open Saturday sessions, online, from presentations by groups within XR, etc.
2. Bring up anything controversial
When they hit anything that they expect will be controversial with the Strategy Assembly, the SDT bring that issue for discussion at a full session of the Strategy Assembly.
3. Consult with external advisors
SDT will pursue any information they require and invite experts and advisors as they see fit.
4. Integrate the wisdom of the Assembly
The Strategy Development Team will then integrate the outcomes of the Strategy Assembly’s discussions, in accordance with the criteria.
5. Write the drafts
Throughout, SDT will be drafting pieces of the Strategy based on the ‘needs’ generated by the Assembly The whole draft will be brought to the Strategy Assembly for integration, before it is finally agreed
How is this different from the UKSA?
The SDT is an elected group made up of members of the UKSA. It is formed for the purpose of writing proposals as this work can be done more efficiently with a smaller group of people. They do not make any of the strategic decisions.
The Strategy Development Team brings proposals.
The UK Strategy Assembly is the decision-making body.
Who will be in the SDT?
SASN propose the Assembly elect 7 of its members to the SDT (who can choose to co-opt an additional two people from outside, if they wish).
During the election process, certain qualities of individuals may be considered as the Assembly will want to ensure that the SDT has the skills and experience required to fulfil its mandate.
Here’s an (incomplete) list of qualities that you might consider when voting:
- The team should include strategy experts and diverse backgrounds and experience
- Works well in a team
- Critical and creative thinking
- Ability to work to deadlines & prioritise
- Writing skills
Choosing the SDT
The 7 seats will be elected by Single Transferable Vote. This was chosen as it is a representative way of reflecting the desires of the whole group.
Assembly reps can each nominate one other Member. Candidates will have an opportunity to speak to the group.
Voting will be done online, outside of session time.
Candidates will be nominated through email by the UKSA Memebers.
Each email will have a brief statement explaining the nominee’s suitability which will be shared with the Assembly as a whole before the Thursday "hustings" session.
At the Thursday session there will be a limited time for nominees to introduce themselves to the full Assembly on Thursday, and to question them.
SDT and the External Advisory Panel
It is recommended that all communication with the Advisory Panel is managed by the SDT. This is to avoid overwhelming the advisors with multiple or conflicting requests. Consultation may take the form of formulated questions or invited presentations, but experts/movement veterans should not simply be invited to sit with the group and should not be assigned decision-making powers.
When working with the External Advisor Panel, advice given must be taken into full consideration by the SDT (and UKSA as relevant). The default course of action should be to act on and in accordance with advice or data that is deemed valuable and reliable unless sound reasons are presented for not doing so. The movement has a track record of ignoring external advice if it doesn’t align with entrenched or dominant points of view. We must be willing to leave our comfort zone, trust in other ways of doing things and be willing to learn from and act on advice from sources that may know more than we do.
Strategy Process & Review Cycle
A rough outline of the process could be brought down into the following:
- Assembly get to know each other, build trust and mutual understanding. Review previous strategy and reflect on the things which truly had an impact.
- As we leave this stage the Assembly should have an idea of who their peers are, what their skills are, and why they have stepped into this process. This will help the Assembly to elect the SDT.
- Some time will also be given to reflecting on the previous strategy as well as the current landscape within and outside of the movement.
- Process of convergent facilitation takes place to ensure every need within the Assembly is taken into account in the next strategy. Focusing on what overall headlines should be in it to move forward, and what the strategy needs to look like to be useful to the movement.
- As we leave this stage the Assembly should have a list of needs which the final product must meet. Focus will be made on what needs to be in the Strategy as well as how the Strategy is presented for people to engage with.
- We do this so that all views and needs are noted and therefore considered in the following stages and so the Assembly as a whole is advocating for everyones needs rather than an individual holding their own flag.
- Assembly starts to answer the needs identified and SDT start to draft the strategy.
- By this stage the Assembly will have elected the SDT and that group will be focussing on drafting parts of the strategy and proposals.
- The rest of the Assembly is there to review what is being produced with short feedback loops ensuring that drafting is on the right track and that each of the Needs is being met.
- Decision making stage. Where assembly agrees on exactly what will be in the next strategy. Pulling together the work of all previous steps.
- Assembly comes together for key decision making in this Stage. They consider al the drafts and proposals produced by the SDT and settle on which should go into the product.
- This will be collaborative and constructive, the aim is not to pit drafts against each other but to land on an imperfect step forward that satisfies everyone's needs.
Next Stages & Iterations
- It is vital to bear in mind throughout this process that this is merely the first iteration of ongoing work.
- The product of this first stage will be imperfect and that is both okay and expected.
- Strategy must be dynamic and therefore cannot, for a movement such as ours, be fixed over long perieods of time.
- There is a second product of this process, and that is the experience of those involved. Each stage must be reflected on and amended so that the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th iterations learn from those that came before. That, which is painful now, will teach us how to do this better.
Strategy Review Cycle
The Strategy Stewardship Team (SST) is recommending that the UK Strategy Assembly (UKSA) and Strategy Development Team (SDT) formally review the strategy around three times a year to start with. Depending on a number of factors including the external environment and internal capacity/appetite.
In-between review periods, UKSA can call SDT together to act as a rapid response unit to deal with unanticipated/fast developing events that have the potential to impact the strategy, or require a strategic response.
|Gathering Data & Insights||Review Previous Strategy||Strategy Development|
|Gathering Data & Insights||Review Previous Strategy||Strategy Development|
|Gathering Data & Insights||Review Previous Strategy||Strategy Development|
Below is a pictorial interpretation of how the movement will feed their insights and feedback into the UKSA followed by how the UKSA (which represents the voices of the movement) will work with the SDT (who will write the documentation) interact through consultation and insight. It also demonstrates how the External Advisory panel supports the SDT in achieving their aims.
Critical Success Factors
The following need to be met for the suggested process to successfully be carried out:
- During the intense four-week development phase, support will be required for SDT.
- UKSA and SDT need to set out clear team structures, orientation, roles and responsibilities, and ways of working right from the beginning.
- This was not properly considered in 2019 and contributed to general team dysfunction and significant stress for individual members.
- All UKSA and SDT meetings will require trained facilitators experienced in conflict resolution or a specific style of facilitation to ensure that differences of opinion do not lead to power-over dynamics, decision paralysis or burn-out.
- The Facilitation Team, as outlined in this document, should be identified in advance with the UKSA IC (or Support Team) responsible for liaising with and booking facilitators.
- The approval process needs to be clear, efficient and fit-for-purpose for a 3 x yearly review cycle. SST is recommending that UKSA is mandated to approve the UK XR strategy to allow for that.
- The strategy should identify and set suitable metrics by which its success will be measured.
- The strategy shall be inspired by XRUK’s Vision and express our Principles and Values. As outlined Here.
Roadmap for Stages 3 & 4
As the Assembly nears the end of the second stage of its process we are now looking to how we can get a strategy to the movement in as timely a way as possible. The following roadmap has been developed to guide the Assembly through the final stages in the hope of releasing a strategy in id Feburary.
The intention is to:
- Get the SDT formed and working on drafts as soon as possible
- While the Assembly deepens its shared understanding of Strategy with various inputs
- While remaining available to address points of contention discovereed by the SDT as they draft and revise.
There are three milestones we must hit if we are to produce a strategy:
- Forming the Strategy Development Team. (Information on how this is done can be found here)
- Producing a Draft Strategy
- Publishing a Final Strategy
Note: Milestones do not move easily.
We will be sticking to our existing pattern of meethings (Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays) where we have scheduled plans for the weekday meetings and are more flexible on Saturdays. So there is space for adjustment as needed within the sessions but each milestone must be met.
To see a more detailed breakdown of our current plans for upcoming sessions have a look here.
As the SDT will have separate meetings each week to draft the strategy the UKSA will have time in their meetings to explore further the inputs to the process, to start thinking about a team to look at how the strategy will be formatted and delivered to rebels, as well as hearing updates from the SDT and helping to resolve any issues or controversies that arise.