Rev. Barber on implementation

Rev. Dr. Barber, head of the North Carolina NAACP, has a recent piece in The Nation entitled How to Build a Powerful People’s Movement: If we can do it in North Carolina, don’t tell me we can’t do it across America. It’s a great piece, filled with interesting examples of effective rhetoric, such as borrowing language from The Declaration of Independence when describing The Civil Rights Movement:

For the next fourteen years [following Brown v. Board of Education], young and old, rich and poor, white, black and brown risked their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to repair the breach in God’s human race.

I’ve been writing a lot about implementation lately since that ended up being a major focus of my research. So this passage jumped out at me:

How do we build a people’s movement? We start with vision. Prophetic moral vision seeks to penetrate despair, so that we can believe in and embrace new futures. It does not ask if the vision can be implemented—questions of implementation are of no consequence until the vision can be imagined. The slaves didn’t get out of slavery by first figuring out how to get out; they got out because they were driven by a vision that said, “Oh freedom over me. / And before I’d be a slave / I’d be buried in my grave / And go home to my Lord and be free.”

I agree that we need a vision of where we want to go and that it must come first. So this was a powerful reminder of that. My fear is that sometimes people think vision means they can neglect the–often mind numbing–details of implementation.

I really like how David Allen is fond of asking “what is the next action?” But I also like how Stephen Covey says to “begin with the end in mind.” Is it possible be doing both every day?