On writing a manifesto


August 25th, 2009

Today Anne Pattillo and I wrote a manifesto about Facilitating With Confidence. It was a useful way to tease out our thinking and to surface the arguments that underpin what we do. It was also a great exercise in collaborative writing. Here’s how we did it.

We started by capturing key thoughts – in any order. Statements about the world as we experience it and what we believe.

We then put a bit of structure around these thoughts:

  • What we are arguing
  • Supporting information; why it matters? Why you should care?
  • Our response: what does it mean to facilitate with confidence?
  • What difference it will make in the world
  • Our challenge to you

We then worked on our arguments. Using the classic journalists’ tool of the inverted pyramid, we ranked our arguments so as each subsequent one built on, or supported the previous one. An if you only read the first argument, then you would have ‘got it’.

Our final edit came not in our draft writing, but as we created the look of the manifesto. We used Apple’s Keynote to design the layout. The reasons will be the subject of another post one day. As we designed each page, we refined our language and the emphasis. It was creative, exciting work and we are very pleased with the outcome. The next step is to make a slideshow.

We’ve submitted a proposal to Change This and will let you know if our proposal is accepted. If so, we’ll be asking you to vote on us writing the full manifesto (even though we’ve already done that, we’ll be keeping it to ourselves for the time being).

I found it a useful process for becoming clear about what I stand for, and for explaining what’s important. More useful, even, than doing a vision and mission, or, heaven forbid, strategic planning!

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