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Coalitions Get Things Done!

With the right people working together, and enough of them, strategic planning for your Vision can be a satisfying, purposeful work. Your whole unit can come out the other side of this process stronger, more aligned, and more united than before.

According to Rosabeth Moss Kantor there are three main (and repeatable) steps in building a coalition of support:

  1. Gathering intelligence, planting seeds, and preselling
  2. Tin-cupping and horse trading
  3. Securing "blessings" and sanity checks

Essentially this boils down to a process of learning where people are at, negotiating for support, and soliciting feedback to strengthen your plan. Let’s take a closer look at each of these steps.

STEP ONE: Gathering intelligence, planting seeds, and preselling

Find out where people stand. Leave behind a germ of an idea to let it blossom and become more familiar to others. Follow the “rule of no surprises”  don't hold any meetings where people will hear something they are not prepared for.

We talk about this crucial step in Where Are You At?

Learn how to create your strategic plan

Download Unit Self-Assessment TOOL

STEP TWO: Tin-cupping and horse trading

Take your figurative “tin cup” in hand and go around the organization begging for the involvement and support of others: a few spare budget dollars, a staff member to lend, key data, or any other required project resources.

Be sure to give something back to everyone who contributes: a promise to share in the benefits; the opportunity to return the favor in the future; a promise to provide staff of your own that are important to a project someone else is working on; a commitment to share in the glory (whatever that may be).

STEP THREE: Securing "blessings" and sanity checks

Get feedback from more experienced people in your unit to make sure your idea is sound. If necessary, reshape your idea to make it more workable and start your tin cupping again, this time in support of your revised idea.

As you go through this process you’ll find you need to frame the Plan (Vision, Goals, Initiatives) differently according to who you’re connecting with. Review the following appeals, and return to your Allies, Opponents, and Undecideds WORKSHEET if necessary:

  • Attraction-based: profile of allies; identification, identity, and aspiration
  • Reason-based: proof of concept (It can work! It’s a miracle!); small wins
  • Politics-based:  victories and their spoils (who wins, who benefits?)
  • Meaning-based: a complete worldview

Key Tips About Coalition Building