Analytical Activism: A New Approach to Solving the Sustainability Problem
and Other Difficult Problems
Before activists can solve difficult problems they must first undergo a fundamental change. They must switch from Classic to Analytical Activism. This book tells why that's so necessary and how it can be done.
2006 with small updates since then. This is a large book, at 392 pages and 8 1/2" by 11" with a two column layout. The book is available in these versions:
1. As a page size file PDF , for printing or reading on computer screens or larger eReaders.
2. As a printed book from Lulu Press for $20.00 plus postage.
Below is the back cover:
Be sure to hover your mouse over the numbered boxes before clicking on the play box. The video will start in about ten seconds after you click. This is a very large video, running 48 minutes, so you may prefer to download the zip file below.
The video is available for download in this 18 MB file ZIP . After unzipping it and preserving the directory structure, double click on the Video.html file to get started. The single video requires the Flash plugin. The video is a screen recording of this PowerPoint file PP , which includes the script for each slide.
The video background photo was taken at Stone Mountain Park on September 16, 2006 at the height of the Stone Mountain daisies bloom. Due to a burst of rain for a few weeks followed by a dry spell when the daisies started opening up, that year's bloom was the prettiest I've ever seen.
Here are the simulation models ZIP in Vensim. Vensim uses the identical stock and flow modeling approach used in the Limits to Growth project. For how to run the models please see The World of Simulation.
The eight models in the zip file and the pages they appear in the book on are:
1. The Basic Structure of Process Revolutions, page 174
2. The Memetic Evolution of Solutions to Difficult Problems, page 182
3. The Dueling Loops of the Political Powerplace
3.1 The Race to the Bottom, page 29
3.2 The Basic Dueling Loops, page 30
3.3 The Dueling Loops with 2 HLPs, page 38
3.4 The Dueling Loops with Critical Point Reaction, page 296
4. The Transformation of Classic Activism to Analytical Activism, page 231
5. How Critical Thresholds Behave (A minor educational model), page 247
Below are some key chapters. These are PDF files with 8 1/2" by 11" pages. The book uses a two column format.
The three page Table of Contents PDF contains descriptions of each part and chapter.
Here's the 9 page introduction PDF . The five invisible traps the environmental movement has fallen into are described, followed by how to escape them. This requires the Analytical Method, which is derived from the Scientific Method. This leads to the five points of the new paradigm:
1. The process must fit the problem.
2. The social side of the problem is the crux.
3. The phenomenon of strong, prolonged, successful solution adoption resistance clearly exists. Therefore there must be an invisible social structure that is the fundamental cause of that phenomenon.
5. There is a high leverage point in this structure that has never been tried.
Here's the 9 page chapter PDF . The movement has lost its way because the process does not fit the problem. This was an easy trap to fall into because the process worked at first. But now we know that what was happening is we were solving the easy problems first. The hard problems remain as unsolved as ever, because the current process is utterly incapable of solving them. The movement can find its way again by changing to the right process.
The chapter opens with a thrilling tale about how Professor Jay Forrester used system dynamics modeling to solve the urban decay crisis. This story is so compelling it lives on its own page: How the Urban Decay Crisis Was Solved.
This chapter PDF runs 13 pages. This chapter blows a gigantic hole in conventional wisdom by analyzing what makes certain environmental problems easy or difficult. This leads to a number of startling conclusions. One is that the stratospheric ozone layer problem was not solved because of a breakthrough in international agreement. It was solved because it was an inherently easy problem, one with low change resistance.
But the most important conclusion is that the sustainability problem is so inherently difficult that it will not yield to normal, intuitive problem solving processes. Something entirely different that fits the problem is required, or we will continue to stare at decade after decade of solution failure.
From the table of contents, here's what the chapter covers:
There are seven difficulty factors causing environmental problems to be difficult to solve. These factors are used to rate the top eleven environmental problems. The results explain why one has been easy to solve and the rest remain unsolved. The chapter argues that the main reason so many remain unsolved is the problem solving process used by the environmental movement is so immature that it does not fit the problem. It cannot handle the seven difficulty factors. Given the principle that the more difficult the problem the more mature the process used to solve it must be, it follows that the movement must switch to a mature process.
Below is the Problem Difficulty Assessment. Click on it for the larger version.
This chapter PDF runs 64 pages and is the longest chapter in the book. Hopefully this is the point in the book at which you awaken to the realization that the strategic cause of failure to solve the sustainability problem is not that it's a difficult problem. It's application of the wrong process.
This chapter goes into extraordinary depth to prove this point. Here's the chapter summary from the table of contents:
An assessment of the process maturity of ten environmental organizations shows the environmental movement is presently incapable of solving the sustainability problem, chiefly because of over reliance on Classic Activism. This can be corrected by adding the key best practices of Analytical Activism and those practices particular to the sustainability problem.
Below is the Process Maturity Assessment. Click on it for the larger version.