Five Steps to Tactical Innovation for Human Rights: Lesson 5

Lesson 5:

Step Four: Explore and Select Tactics

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

In Lesson 4 you learned how to create a Spectrum of Allies, placing the individuals, groups and organizations related to your problem and its center relationship on a continuum of support to opposition to your goal.  

In Lesson 5 you will see how others have used this tool to develop tactics designed to increase support for your goal and to decrease the power of the opposition.

1.  Find evidence showing the need for innovative tactics.

At the beginning of this course, you read six reasons for tactical innovation:

1.    What we know how to do influences what we think is possible to do. Tactics help determine strategy.

2.    Different tactics are effective against different targets.

3.    Different tactics appeal to different constituencies.

4.    Tactical flexibility is the source of surprise.

5.    Tactics teach participants and observers how to engage in the world.

6.    Tactics are the training systems for engaging participants and allies in the organization’s work.

Do you agree with those reasons?  Do you have any experience with trying to make a change that supports the need for more tactical innovation?  

2. Observe the process of creating a tactic from the course case example, using a Spectrum of Allies analysis.

After you have practiced finding the target and purpose of tactics from case examples, you will see how tactics are developed from analyzing a Spectrum of Allies. Once you are able to develop a range of tactics designed for particular audiences, you will be ready for the final and fifth step, creating a plan of action.  

3. Use a Spectrum of Allies analysis to identify a target and several tactics for your problem and goal.

Usually no one tactic will enable you to reach your goal for change.  It takes a number of tactics, each one designed to reach a different audience or to increase the participation level of the population in taking action on the problem.  Tactics are developed by a process of analyzing your spectrum of allies, but also by studying the tactics others have used, and by brainstorming with others who care about the issue.  

In Lesson 6 you will see how a number of tactics for various targets are combined into a Plan of Action. You will also practice the process of choosing tactics that have been used for other problems, but which may adapt well for your context.


Lesson 5 Syllabus

1.    Introduction to Lesson 5
2.    REVIEW: The Need for New Tactics (Johnson), pp 16-18 in the New Tactics Book
3.    Need for New Tactics Examples
4.    Case Study: A Struggle from the Ground Up: The Anti-Apartheid Movement in South Africa

Pre-Webinar Assignment
Use the case study "A Struggle from the Ground Up: The Anti-Apartheid Movement in South Africa."

1.    Identify as many tactics as you can find.
2.    Identify the target(s) for each tactic.
3.    Using the Six Reasons form, identify where each of the tactics might fit.
4.    Send to Nancy Pearson for review at

Date and time: Wed. March 2, 2011, 8pm Tehran time
Nancy Pearson: “Step four—Exploring and selecting targets and tactics”

Post Webinar Assignment
1.    Read How to Explore and Select Tactics
2.    Read Adapting TacticsNew Tactics Book, p. 161
3.    Using your own problem, goal, tactical map, and spectrum of allies:

  • Choose one target
  • Identify your objective (smaller goal) for that target (what do you want that target to do; or in what way do you want that target to help move you toward your goal.
  • Identify several tactics that could be used with that target.
  • Identify if any of these tactics will be adapted from the cases you learned about during this course.

4.    Type your answers in the Select Target and Tactics form.
5.    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.

Share Alike  If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same, similar or a compatible license. And share your alterations, etc with CVT-New Tactics to continue to build the body of knowledge.



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