Thoughts on Why David Sometimes Wins

From civicintelligence

Using "Why David Sometimes Wins",

1. Identify 2-5 guidelines, findings, or assertions in the text that seem important for civic intelligence.

2. For each tell why in general you think what you've chosen is important.

3. Using "The Garden" or any other campaign or struggle that you know something about, discuss how what you identified played or didn't play a part in the campaign or struggle. (You can also use an example from you own life -- any creative project you were involved in, for example.)

4. Discuss how this what you identified could be evaluated or measured in general. (Alternatively you could use specific examples.)

5. Please also comment on other entries on this page.

Brian's Thoughts 4:50 PM 11/8/2011

1. and 2.

  • A). People do not have the power to change or resist change if they are unable to utilize or move their resources effectively. (Page 5)
    • Having a pile of shovels and hoes doesn't help with farming as much if there aren't enough people to use them all. And even in a hypothetical world with plenty of people with knowledge of the tools, without overarching information on how to best utilize them, instead of creating a properly irrigated farm field, it would be possible to severely damage a plot of land from the human perspective. Social coordination is very important in creating and maintaining a stable society.
  • B). Poor resources, when interacting with the proper environment, can overcome greater resources that are not utilized as the environment deems. (Page 6)
    • As we are seeing in the middle east, groups of people with the abilities to network out of sight of oppressive governments with vast resources compared to the people are falling every month. With the advent of cell phone communication and other socially oriented media, people are able to find other like minded individuals and abolish regimes of dictators that would be otherwise unconquerable by conventional means.
  • C). Waiting for the appropriate timing on the world stage can help lead to greater social gain. (Page 20)
    • Whether it's waiting for the right moment to fire your only rocket, or biding time until ears become more sympathetic to a new idea, it's hard to deny that patience and observing the world at large can really help in application of civic intelligence. To use The Middle East again, once a country notices their neighbors uprising against dictatorships, it becomes all the easier to do it themselves, as they will have more potential allies and the resources of the oppressors will be more scrambled in trying to aid other nations with their revolts.

3. In The Garden

A) In The Garden, the farmers tried to fight the large amounts of money and questionable government processes by acquiring a lawyer to help them, they got one rather late in the process though, which may have severely limited their ability to resist the litigation that was working against them, more importantly; B) They had poor resources that were not nearly as agile in the legal environment of their community as their competitors, even though they had some social backing. Even with their best fundraising efforts, they were unable to come even close to being able to fight the government's decisions on the property. C) The world at large did not notice them nearly as well as they could have at other point. Local interest at the time was more concerned with the wars over in Afghanistan and Iraq, let alone the Mumbai attacks involving bombing trains happened just a few days before hand had really caught the world's attention.

4. Utilization

  • A) The easiest way I can think of to measure utilization of resources would be a cost effective analysis of the tools they had available, compared to the costs of doing something a more conventional way.
  • B)A simple analysis of the market value of the resources available compared to their opponents would be a good measure of how effective they utilized their environment. This would be also have to be assessed by social scientists and historians for a better idea of how the environment was used by both sides.
  • C)Measuring the timing is much trickier. It would involve guessing the likelihood of success in hypothetical situations.

Galen's Thoughts

1 and 2

a. David does not use unnecessary equipment; instead he chooses to approach the battlefield from his perspective instead of the status quo… Civic intelligence represents a new approach to communication that is arising out a confluence old ideas (and criticism of such), new innovations, and itself. It’s collective and non-hierarchal ideal allow the possibility for participants to utilize group cognition in a way that surpasses the capabilities of previous communication and organizational schemas. Therefore it is important to identify what is unimportant in civic intelligence, that may exist within it simply because it has arisen from an existing world. In removing “unnecessary equipment,” we find “David” skillfully wielding the most effective weapon for the situation.

b. Homogenous groups and heterogeneous group both have advantages… Homogenous groups lend themselves toward easy decision making and action because a wide array of competing perspectives does not exist. As long as unusual circumstances don’t occur, homogenous groups rarely encounter problems. Heterogeneous groups have a diverse range of perspectives and tend to suffer from the tension of having many different perspectives to synthesize. Impounding this is the need to translate these perspectives between of many different communication styles. While heterogeneous groups need more time to make decisions and it’s individuals need heightened communication skills, they tend to make better decisions. This is important to civic intelligence because it is not geared towards homogenous or isolated groups, rather its goal is the aggregate communication of a diverse many. Identifying and training in diverse communication methods is the foundation of civic intelligence strategic capacity.

c. Strategy is especially important in a changing environment or when there is a great deal of ambiguity in a process (meaning an ends may be hard to perceive or even unknown). Civic intelligence and its collective thinking aspects generally surpass even the most perceptive individuals. Coming to decisions in civic intelligence, or even coming to an understanding of what a problem to approach is, requires a process of collaboration that can have no clear ends. Understanding how to contribute to an evolving group thought while releasing or incorporating ones own ideas/needs is another important communication skill to learn. The inverse is interjecting ones own ideas/needs in a way that blocks, or confuses the group mind. (i.e. during a jazz improv session someone jumps in with a heavy metal solo)

3 coming soon

In the Garden. I think one of the main problems was the farmers lack of a world view. Initially they thought that passion in speaking was the key to keeping the farms. But they did not understand that the translation of what they said would not have the same meaning, linguistically, or culturally, to the judge or jury.

They got a lawyer and had a victory when the trial was delayed, but in the victory the lawyer became overconfident and the other side overturned the victory.

They didn't realize that 16.3 million dollars was intended to be out of reach, and didn't get the landowner into writing before putting so much effort into raising the money.

Nichs' thoughts:

The three assertions from “Why David Sometimes Wins” that stood out to me were the ideas of motivation, salient knowledge, and heuristic processes. I think these are relevant and important for civic intelligence, because using these ideas as guidelines can greatly enhance a group’s cohesion and autonomy.

Motivation is an obvious necessity for any sort of cause. Even people with few resources can accomplish a great deal if they’re really fired up about the cause they’re fighting for. Motivation was a huge factor in the struggles of the South Central Farmers portrayed in “The Garden.” Because the garden played such a huge role in the lives of the South Central Farmers, they had an enormous desire to fight for it. Because of this, a group of poor, Hispanic people who traditionally have little power in the United States were able to really challenge the status quo. They were able to inspire celebrities to join their fight and raised over $16 million for their cause.

Marshall Ganz describes salient knowledge as “possession of domain-relevant skills, mastery of which is requisite to developing novel applications” (pg. 11). He uses the example of David using stones to fight Goliath rather than a sword and shield to illustrate this concept. Because David had experience using rocks to protect his flock of sheep, he was able to use rocks more skillfully than more powerful weapons he was unfamiliar with. In civic intelligence, it’s important for groups to use the skills they already possess rather than trying to rely on strategies they’re unfamiliar with. The South Central Farmers, for instance, used their passion for their land as their biggest tool in fighting to keep it. They were true to themselves and their roots throughout their fight. Some of the farmers even used their skills with music when throwing the benefit concert to raise money to buy the land. Because they never relied on strategies they didn’t have experience in, they were able to work well as a cohesive group that was constant in their struggles.

The heuristic process basically refers to looking outside the box. By using skills that a group already possess in new ways, a group can grow and evolve without losing the edge of salient knowledge. The South Central Farmers used their knowledge and passion for the land to network with people in power. Being skilled farmers with immigrant backgrounds, they were able to use their stories to inspire more powerful people to help their cause. The benefit concert is another example of this. Their raw passion inspired established musicians to help them, and the farmers that were familiar with music were able to be involved in the concert as well.

I think the South Central Farmers were as successful as they were because they used motivation, salient knowledge, and heuristic processes. Not only did they employ these strategies, they did so organically and collectively. The South Central Farmers are a great example of civic intelligence for this and many other reasons.

Devin's Thoughts:

1. a) I found a citation on page 5 to be interesting just as a refreshing description for strategy: “Strategy is how we turn what we have into what we need to get what we want. It is how we transform our resources into the power to achieve our purposes. It is the conceptual link we make between the targeting, timing, and tactics with which we mobilize and deploy resources and the outcomes we hope to achieve... Since strategy orients current action toward future goals, it develops in interaction with an ever-changing environment, especially actions and reaction of other actors... In fixed contexts in which rules, resources, and interests are given, strategy can to some extent be understood in the analytic terms of game theory... But in settings in which rules, resources, and interests are emergent—such as social movements—strategy has more in common with creative thinking... Strategic action can thus best be understood as an ongoing creative process of understanding and adapting new conditions to one's goals.” - (Page 5 & 6 Ganz). b) Another blip from the article that I found helpful what on page 9: “In the group work setting of a leadership team devising strategy, individual motivation is enhanced when people enjoy autonomy, receive positive feedback from peers and superiors, and are part of a team competing with other teams. It is dampened when they enjoy little autonomy, get no feedback or only negative feedback from peers and superiors, and face intense competition within the team.” - page 9 Ganz.

2. a) This is quite a lengthy analysis for measuring and identifying strategy and the circumstances that call for a strategic approach. But I think this description could make for an excellent 'pattern card,' and perhaps one or even several already exist, in that case maybe they could benefit from these citations Ganz chose to use in the article. I realize that to some this information might be seen as redundant or obvious when thinking of strategy, but for one thing I have limited familiarity with the broad topics proposed in both this article and especially the second article we read on transnational advocacy networks. b) I think it's safe to say that this applies to any group setting where people are working together for a common cause. Individual motivation of the group members is key to accomplishing anything at all, and for that to be possible it is essential that each member feels that he/she is equally important and valued as each of member, and at the same time has the independence or 'autonomy' to carry out their specialized tasks. At this point it's almost counterintuitive to the group mentality; that each member has there own delegated tasks/responsibilities within the group and yet on the whole they work together in how they have that common goal. So it would seem that we can reduce or take apart a successful group and it would resemble a sort of reductionist explanation for how the group works; we each 'ant' carrying its grain of rice back to the 'colony.' But at the same time if we observe the group from a more holistic perspective, we would likely find that each of the members is actively collaborating on a greater task, such as securing/sustaining the 'colony's' food supply. With the ant metaphor we can only go so far, but with one revision I'd like to finish off with saying that despite each member enjoying that autonomy, there is usually some form of monitor/leader/facilitator, in the case of the ant colony that would likely be the queen.

3. The case of “The Garden” and the South Central Farmers of L.A. is most definitely a situation where 'Goliath' wins. To me it seems that there was a mixture of struggles and hot issues that played roles in the court's decisions. Some of them were likely racial divisions and cultural misinterpretations between the ethnic backgrounds of the South Central Farmers, the City Council members, and the rest of the local community. Just as with the story of David and Goliath, it seems that the only group of people acting remotely intelligent were the South Central Farmers and the lawyers they fortunately partnered up with. I'm still not clear on the specifics, but it seemed that Jan Perry didn't really have any leverage that she was willing or able to use over this situation, likely because of her reelection campaign and perhaps some pressure from within that 'system.' As for Juanita Tate, her tactics or 'strategy' was very transparent and almost primitive in how she would say things like “I'd kick his ass in the daytime, anytime,” and not to mention her short tempered and repetitive responses to simple questions during an interview, one of such responses being something along the lines of “That's it, I'm through, I'm through, no more, I'm through.” As for Mr. Horrowitz, clearly his pride became his motive in suppressing the prosperity of the farmers and showing his dominance by abusing his rights as a property owner. I conclude that the voices of a community that is hosting a disobedient community member should be heard over that individuals, regardless of individual 'rights,' because if what that individual is doing with his/her rights is wrong, then why not adapt to the situation and make an intelligent assessment, rather than unintelligently say, “oh well, that's the system/rules we adopted and follow and there's nothing we can do about it except pretend to care and keep smiling.”

4. I'm still flushing this part out...

Jeremiah's still crystallizing thoughts:

Challenging those with power over us is civic intelligence similar to the study involving conversational turn taking because we need to take our turn to speak (metaphorically or practically speaking) any time that we seek to increase our power or at least decrease the power others have over us. (

" Strategy is how we turn what we have into what we need to get what we want." (Ganz, p. 5)

For groups to demonstrate Civic Intelligence, they must have a clear picture of their resources, needs and goals.

"Studying strategy is a way to discern the patterns in the relationship among intention, action and outcome" (Ganz, p. 6)

Is your praxis effectively producing the outcome you want?

"To find new solutions we use our gift for analogy to reframe data in ways that make novel interpretations and pathways conceivable, combining familiar elements in new ways as bricoleur.” (Ganz, p. 11) (relates to the pattern Design for Unintended Use)

“Motivation David committed to fight Goliath before he knew how he would do it. He knew why he had to do it before he knew how he could do it.”

The south sound farmers did this as well. The garden was such an integral part of their life that they acted as if they had no choice but to do everything in their power to avoid the garden from being taken from them. It was this motivation that enabled them to raise $16 Million in their attempt to save their garden.

Michael's Thoughts

"Strategic action can thus best be understood as an ongoing creative process of understanding and adapting new conditions to one's goals. "

When I was leading the parish profile committee at my church to develop a detailed examination of our congregation our process was continually adapting and changing. Our goal was not just to produce the profile document to move on with the process of calling a new rector, but to engage the whole community as openly and as widely as possible in creating the document. We developed three events to get the congregations input over the course of our project. Each event was at its core a response to the feedback from the previous event.

"As a kind of distributed cognition, it may require synthesizing skills and information beyond the ken of any one individual, making terms of that interaction particularly important. "

As I worked with my team on the parish profile, I was constantly thankful of the differing skills and perspectives of everyone involved. Although I was the chair of the committee, I did my best to keep everyone on equal terms by soliciting the input of each member as often as possible. This developed a collaborative spirit which allowed us to synthesize a coherent picture of the information we were compiling instead of a collection of opinions.

"Teams thus composed of persons with heterogeneous perspectives are more likely to make good decisions than homogeneous teams, especially in solving novel problems, because they can access greater resources, bring a broader range of skills to bear on decision making, and marshal a diversity of views. "

The profile committee represented a very diverse range within our fairly homogeneous congregation. We spanned several generations, length of membership at our church, and stakeholder groups within the congregation. Questions and concerns came to different members of our team based on their connections, which allowed us to be very open and receptive to as wide a range as possible. These elements and experiences point towards a framework for heightening civic intelligence:

  • Articulated goals and a feedback loop of information that indicates if they are being met
  • A spirit of cooperation towards accomplishing the shared goals
  • A diversity of skills and perspectives in relation to the goals or community work is taking place in