Five Steps to Tactical Innovation for Human Rights: Lesson 4

Lesson 4:
Step Three: “Know the Terrain, Know Yourself and Know Your Opponent”

— Introduction and Using the Spectrum of Allies tool

Five Steps to Tactical Innovation
1.    Identify the problem
2.    Build a common vision and goal
3.    Define the terrain (Using Tactical Map and Spectrum of Allies tools)
▪ Identify relationships around the identified social problem
▪ Identify allies and opponents on a continuum
4.    Explore and select tactics
5.    Develop a plan of action for implementation

Learner Objectives

1.    Identify and arrange stakeholders involved in an issue along a continuum from active opponents to active allies.

In most social change situations there is a struggle between those who want the change being proposed and those who don’t.

Those who want the change (allies) are shown in the illustration by a + sign; those who don’t want the change (opponents), by a – sign.

In most social change campaigns it is not necessary to win the opponent to your point of view, even if the power holders are the opponent. It is only necessary to move some or all of the wedges one step in your direction.  Usually people do not all fall into the total ally or total opponent category.  Instead they range from active ally to passive ally to neutral toward the goal, to passively against the goal, to actively against the goal. This is called the Spectrum of Allies.

In Lesson 4’s webinar you will learn how arranging all the individuals, groups, and institutions you identified in the Tactical Map along this continuum can help you to identify those who are most likely to be allies and opponents of your goal. It will also help you to narrow down the focus of your tactics to ones designed to move certain targets toward the allies side.  Bring the Tactical Map you created for your problem to this webinar, to help you think about how this tool could help you think about how to succeed in your goal.  

2.    Choose targets for tactics, based on the theory of shifting allies toward the support side of the spectrum.  

Once you have arranged all the people, groups and institutions from the tactical map on a Spectrum of Allies continuum, you are ready to think about which of the ones in the Passive Allies, Neutral or Passive Opponents wedges you think could be moved toward supporting your goal. Those could be your targets for tactics.  How much influence do you have with the potential targets?

As you think about which forces to try to shift to the active allies side, remember your objective.

Lesson 4 Syllabus

1.    Introduction to Lesson 4.
2.    Tactic case examples from the New Tactics Book:

  • “Training Victims as Human Rights Monitors”
  • “Civilizing the Bureaucrat”
  • “Mock Tribunals”

Pre-Webinar Assignment
1.    Using the tactic case examples from the New Tactics Book listed above, choose TWO of the examples and answer these questions as you read each case:

  • Identify the problem
  • Identify the goal
  • Identify who is the target(s) of the tactic
  • Identify the allies and opponents listed in the case study

2.    Review Case Study from previous lesson: Age 10 and Divorced: Nujood Ali and the Fight Against Child Brides in Yemen.

  • Review your list from the Lesson 3 assignment. You had listed all the direct and indirect contact relationships for developing the tactical map.
  • Use your list and place each direct and indirect contact relationship on the “Spectrum of Allies” form.

3.    Come to the webinar with your answers.

Date and time: Wed. Feb. 23, 2011, 8pm Tehran time
Nancy Pearson: Step 3: “Know the Terrain; Know Yourself and Know your Opponent – Using the tactical map to create a spectrum of allies”

Post Webinar Assignment
1.    Using the tactical map you created for your problem, create your own Spectrum of Allies.

  • Draw a half circle and divide into five wedges for Active allies, Passive allies, Neutrals, Passive opponents, and Active opponents.
  • Write down each individual, group or institution you mapped on the section of the spectrum where you think it fits.
  • When you are done, review the target chosen from your tactical map in Lesson 3 – does this still look like the best target?
  • Circle the target(s) you now think are the best ones for your problem.
  • Fill in the Spectrum of Allies form, showing where each individual, group or institution was placed on your Spectrum of Allies and type your choice of targets.

2.    Send to Nancy Pearson for review at


Attribution  List "The Center for Victims of Torture - New Tactics in Human Rights Project" as the source for any information used in this document as well as any original attribution provided in this document.

Noncommercial  The information is not to be used for profit.

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