Monday, 15 May 2017

#GE2017 From #VoteYes to No Thanks - A Lesson in Culture & Loyalty

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This post is a lesson in, as Peter Theil might put it, "Don't F**k up the Culture" as well as Peter Shankman's advice that "If you want people to be loyal, help them out of a jam" and details my experiences with supporting the SNP during the Independence Referendum and explains why I'll now be supporting Jeremy Corbyn during #GE2017.

Since 2012 I have focused on the way that ideas roll out in Education and explored what major tech companies do differently, and the culture the organisation sets appears to be a major factor.

Being involved in education you come into contact with politicians from time to time and it's amazing how little attention is paid to culture by the political classes.

In 2014 I became interested in the Independence Referendum, not because of politics or independence, but because of the culture that had been established. It felt as if Jane Jacobs ideas could burst to life and flourish in towns and cities across Scotland.

Remember when it was Labour who had all the close cropped pictures and The SNP with the panoramic shots with huge crowds?

At the time (As is the case now) I said I'd work with any political party to explore methods in other areas of Scottish life that the 56 newly elected SNP MPs benefited from.

"This process could be used in many areas of Scottish society. The SNP benefited from the kind of process that major technology companies utilise, so they know it works. When I'll be impressed with the SNP, or any other party, is when they decide to use these principles in other areas, not just politics.

If any politician (from any party) wants to know how to continue to take advantage of this process in politics or, ideally, apply to other areas, especially in education, you know where to find me if you have any questions." Why SNP Domination was Inevitable in 6 May 2015

With literacy rates falling, the Education Committee's survey findings where Headteachers are leaving the classroom to stack shelves in supermarkets because of pay and conditions, FE lecturers taking industrial action... I think it's safe to say the #IndyRef #VoteYes culture has disappeared.Or maybe it's that "Team56 and the Scottish Government was only interested in getting elected and/or only really interested in one topic: #IndyRef2?

This post looks at the culture of the Sottish Independence Referendum, the 2015 & 2017 General Elections and my own experiences with this groups lack of attention to their fans and the culture they created in September 2014.

Prior to September 2014 I had the misfortune of dealing with a number of politicians on various projects in a professional capacity (As well as a trying to get help and advice on some personal issues), each and every encounter was a complete and utter waste of time. That may come across as being snarky... but it's also a fact! Maybe that wouldn't be the case if I had been a member of the Bullingdon club, but I wasn't.

Up until the 9th September 2014 I had little interest in the Scottish Independence Referendum. That changed when the atmosphere and culture of the many rallies that were starting to build momentum.

I made it clear in this blog that I was not all that political, but what interested me was the culture. The opportunity for implementing some of Jane Jacobs ideas and/or reducing the Attainment gap was very real.

Those conditions are no longer there for the SNP, but do seem to be emerging in the Corbyn camp, which I am now supporting. I detail some of the reasons below.

Some Predictions
The day of the Independence Referendum result in September 2014 I asked "Was the best yet to come," the day before the 2015 General Election when the pundits were all saying "The polls can't be right... if they were that would lead to unheard of 40% swings to the SNP" but I detailed Why SNP Domination was Inevitable.

My views about global domination by the SNP and their cult popularity status changed drastically 2 days after the General Election. Yep, while everyone had the champagne out at the height of their success I was disagreeing with the pundits that "It would take 10 years for other parties to rebuild in Scotland"
Labouring on with Team56 how to Rebuild Trust.

Image result for jim collins 5 stages of decline

Where did these insights come from? I spent a year watching an organisation that I had invested 10 years of my time with slowly but surely slide down Jim Collins "5 Stages of Decline" and recognised them with an organisation that I'd supported for a couple of years.

I have seen nothing to suggest that the SNP have not moved from Stage 1: Hubris to Stage 2: The Undisciplined Pursuit for More (The announcement of #IndyRef2/#ScotRef in March) and Stage 3: Denial of Risk (The local election results on the 4th May 2017 and dismissing the result by other parties).

I went on to produce this If Tech Stories did Politics document to try to let others know what might work.

But just as I saw that there were opportunities in Sept 2014... I also saw that there were risks at the time. I offered to help in a number of ways and on a number of occasions. How was this assistance received? It was either ignored or dismissed. In one memorable instance I was asked to help... Only to be blocked on Social Media later.

But why bother acknowledging the efforts of one supporter when you have a record 100,000 registered voters. Where are they today? A party with such large numbers of supporters two years ago and only 65 people supporting Salmond's Crowdfunder... WOW austerity must REALLY be kicking in!

Today I am spending as as much time on pro-Labour hashtags as I did with #IndyRef/#VoteYes/SNP ones... for the same reason. In 2014 the VoteYes movement was fun and buzzing, today the Corbyn movement appears to have the better culture.

Sept 2014
Support for #VoteYes was established through a fantastic grassroots non-political positive message of "Vote Yes" and there "Yes for independence groups" everywhere "Asians for Yes" "Academics for Yes" "Women for Independence" etc.

There were also Yes Scotland Twitter accounts for various Scottish towns and cities. The weekend after the referendum result the "Yes" campaigners were taking a well earned rest. But the movement didn't. The post-IndyRef/Yes movement had a couple of days to set the culture following the election result.

As a fan of organisational culture and researching what successful companies and organisations do differently, I was confident I could offer some input at this point. I managed to engage a senior Yes Campaign Manager on Twitter. Here are some of my DMs on the 24th and 25th Sept 2014:

...And what happened with this fantastic movement and hashtag? Exactly what I said would happen (#The45Plus Where Did it All Go Wrong). Go check out #ScotRef and see if there is any humour there.

Like many (Including #VoteNo people) I spent hours each day checking out the fantastic humour 3 years ago... Today I'm spending about that amount of time on the Jremy Corbyn and Labour hasthags because the culture and opportunities are there more than they are with the SNP.

June 2015
In the run up to the 2015 General Election I was still supportive of the SNP and reached out to my local candidate Margaret Ferrier to offer some assistance with Social Media. The reply? Crickets. Didn't hear a thing. But why bother reaching out to one volunteer when you have 100,000 of them, right?

Ignoring me with the offer of helping out didn't make it QUITE so bad, when I made a constituency enquiry a few months later and had about the same result.

Sept 2015
After listening to Chris Van Der Kuyl's keynote presentation at the Scottish Learning Festival I thought "I know what's needed here" given my various attempts to engage the political classes (Of various colours of shiny badges) I just got to work without asking for permission or reaching out to anyone.

When implementing these ideas I started to make a little bit of noise so people sat up and took notice and the then Scottish Education Secretary followed me on Twitter. My opening comment? A gushing show of deference?

The reply?

I followed this up with an email offering support for her Digital Learning Scotland Consultation and strategy and received a reply asking for my assistance

And, despite me saying that I would not guarentee that I would not be snarky and being told it's my democratic right to be?

The reason? because I found it incredulous that someone who asked me to get my PLN involved could not being herself to thank the people I encouraged to rally round the consultation. If there is one thing that winds me up it's people not acknowledging the time and effort others put in, especially  when it's on my recommendation!!

(NB Knowing that there would be a good chance that the political classes would mess up a good opportunity I wrote this post "Using Core Values to Find a Brands Voice" one of the best exercises I've ever done!)

Before being blocked I asked if Education Scotland could pick up on a project that I started that was showing promise, but I had ran out of time to support. I got no reply so took the decision to continue to support the #DigCitSummitUK volunteers. The result? Here's an extract from my post in December 2015

December 2015
I am writing this when I should be at the Job Centre signing on so I receive my benefits this week. There is no point in attending because

  • I have not used jobsites to find and apply for work. 
  • I have not asked employers directly to ask about jobs.
  •  I have not check the completely pathetic universal job match website where "Recommended jobs" that they come up for me include female toilet attendant. 
Equally my job centre have told me regularly "A blog post is not a job search," even when my agreement says that I am looking for positions in social media and community management, or that I have presented this post to my "Job Coach" a number of times:

The irony that I will be sanctioned for trying to bring income and expertise to assist with the Developing the Youth Workforce AT THE REQUEST OF THE EDUCATION SECRETARY will not be lost on many...

Fortunately James Stanbridge and Declara rallied round where the people I had:
  • Written 30+ posts in support of
  • Tried to offer advice on what I felt would have a positive impact re: the Post IndyRef movement
  • Offered to canvass for my local candidate 
  • Pitched in and helped when I was asked to
Not only didn't offer any input or assistance but didn't even come back to me. I reached out to both the Education Secratary and my local MP regarding the sanctions. I heard nothing back from one and, out with an initial conversation with a case worker, heard nothing further after supplying information that was needed to follow up with their enquiries... heard nothing more for 2 years, despite sending 10 emails. Did those replies get snarkier and snarkier? Too right they did!

I've dealt with politicians from other parties on personal and professional matters but I've never done as much for those parties and been ignored after providing this level of support so I can absolutely see Iain Martin's argument in Why Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP are Unwravelling so Rapidly and his observation that voters had been taken for granted.

Attainment Gap, Striking Lecturers, Falling Literacy Rates
Any way you look at it the Scottish Government has failed our young people and students in education. They used a fantastic grassroots movement to get themselves elected but, for some reason, didn't see the value of using those same methods to improve other areas of  Scottish life.

Was the culture and conditions at one point ideal to wring in the changes? They Sure Were!!. Did they "F**k up the culture" as Theil might put it? They Sure Did!!

Psychopathic Cultures and Toxic Empires by [Black, Will]Are the same cultural conditions there with Corbyn in the run up to GE2017? They sure are. Will they remain so?

This is politics we're talking about... so the answer to that might be "unlikely". HOWEVER, a man of integrity who is sticking to views that he's had for 30+ years and is labeled as "Kind" in the press as some sort of character deficiency sure does seem a better choice on the ballot paper that my choices during 2014 & 15.

It might also be worth highlighting that Will Black author of Psychopathic Cultures and Toxic Empires is also supporting Corbyn... So I'm taking that as a good sign.

Three Weeks, Network Effects, Feedback Loops... and Corbyn
In my posts in 2014 I said I'd work with anyone who wants to put these same principles to work in education.

The SNP have opted not to do so and have gone out of their way to ignore me and/or block me after asking for my input... Despite my attempts to engage and reach out a number of times.

But is supporting Corbyn a waste of time and a wasted vote? Well... It wasn't until 2-3 weeks before the Independence Referendum that things took off for the "Yes" camp (Go check the polls in July 2014 the Yes polls were at 34%... The same as Labour are today).

The "network effects" from the 2014 referendum that made the unprecedented GE2015 SNP result possible are starting to fade... what does this mean for Labour?

Well old Labour supporters have not gone away... as the network effects for the SNP fade they *Just Might* develop rather quickly for Labour. The May Local Elections show that I'm not the only disaffected SNP supporter andinaction will lead to more Tory rule.

If the feedback loops that once worked in the SNP's favour three weeks before an election through buzzing and fun conversations on their hashtags remain in Labour's favour could enough people return to their old voting preferences before Independence and Brexit as a result of these inspired social media campaigns by Corbyn within 3-4 weeks? Well there isn't just the IndyRef precedent there's also the US election.

Indeed, has Corbyn studied what worked for #IndyRef and Trump with their respective grassroots movements and rallies with large crowds?

If so will Corbyn be able to do enough between now and June? Will there be enough of the 2014 Network Effects for the SNP? Will Labours Feedback Loops be fun enough to bring old Labour voters back?

Time will tell but I can sure see why there's been a close in the polls and an increase in bets for Corbyn.

If there is one thing thing that prevents me from voting Labour (Which I think will be a first for me... and is in spite of the Blair/Brown years!) it is the lack of unity and not knowing if his team will try to oust him in 6-12 months time... but I suspect that as public opinion changes and momentum builds that we'll see a lot more unity in the party, the promise of success has a rather immediate impact on political types.

And if the culture and momentum remains what is there to say that we won't be in the same place in 2-4 years time and I find that I'm writing about PM Corbyn sliding down the 5 stages of decline? Erm nothing, I'm afraid. But I hope that I've highlighted the importance of culture to any organisation or movement.

This is politics and the political classes don't seem to focus on culture the same as Silicon Valley Tech companies... and that makes  all the difference.

Image result for I came to see my time at IBM as culture is the game

The offer from 2014/5 remains. If anyone from any party is interested in creating these same conditions that they are using in there campaigns in education. Get in touch. 

17th May - Postscript SNP & Labour Outreach
I let two people at the SNP know about this post. One was the case worker who I'd written to a number of times looking for an update and heard nothing back each time. I found the timing and the reason for the follow up (ie in the middle of an election campaign) somewhat curious.

The second person was someone that I have come to admire and respect (This was most definitely NOT always the case!) That persons outreach had a significant impact. The reason?

1) Because he had taken the time to both come back to me during this busy time

2)  They were open enough to the feedback. Even if there was disagreement we were able to "agree to disagree"

3) This person had taken the time to engage with me in the past. Even though I was not a constituent and r
egardless of whether I was being snarky or if it was  to support some of the projects that I was working on.

The impact? My constituent case workers outreach had limited affect on me. The latter? *Just Might* see me give the party another chance... for whatever that one vote might matter.

On the other hand. I reached out to the Labour candidate in the same way that I did with the SNP candidate in 2015... with the same response. Once bitten, twice shy ;)

So I have a fair idea of what my constituent candidates think about this particular constituent so it will come down to other factors. As of 16th May = SNP 1 Labour 0.

Then there's the fact that, as I state above, I'm a fan of Corbyn and can't be sure that his party won't try to oust him in a matter of days... something that the lack of engagement with (Or about) Corbyn on their social media timeline testifies to.  

Because of one persons outreach it's all to play for. I will continue to watch and Tweet about the #ForTheMany movement because:

1) It's fun, it reminds me of the vibrant #IndyRef #VoteYes movement  
2) I agree with what's been said 
3) I've explored the way that ideas gain traction and roll out for the last few years and the "No Chance" Independence movement developed in the same way that the "Weak Leadership" Corbyn movement is developing. 

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