Global Research Assembly

Chicago Nexus

July 1976


Over the past twenty years, the Institute of Cultural Affairs has been developing methods that make effective action possible for any human being. One such method is Indicative Battleplanning and the following is a description of how it works.

During the past year, the ICA has taken on the task of acting as consultant to eight communities spread across the world which have undertaken the task of reformulating themselves. Each of the communities ­­ Kwangyung Eul, on the island of Jeju Do off South Korea; Majuro, an atoll in the Marshall Islands, Oombulgurri, an Aboriginal settlement in northwest Australia; Sudtonggan, a village on Mactan Island in the Philippines, Maliwada, an agricultural village near Aurangabad, India; the Isle of Dogs, an urban dock community in London; 5th City, a black ghetto community on Chicago's West Side, and Kawangware, an urban village on the outskirts of Nairobi ­­ is engaged in a Human Development Project.

A Social Demonstration Consult launched each of the projects, in which the Indicative Battleplanning method was extensively used to plan for the reformulation programs. The method can be most readily understood when seen in the context of these Social Demonstration consults.

The consults each lasted six days, from Monday through Saturday. They were attended by Institute staff, professional persons in the fields of medicine, agriculture, business, etc., and community residents. Each of the six days is devoted to an element of the indicative battleplanning process:

Monday: getting out the community's operating vision;

Tuesday: investigating the underlying contradictions blocking the community from achieving what it envisions;

Wednesday: building practical proposals for dealing with the contradictions;

Thursday: converting the proposals into a tactical system that spells out how to put these proposals into effect;

Friday: arranging the tactics into actuating programs that state the new community structures that must be brought into being; and

Saturday: creating budgets for each program and publishing a document containing the written record of each stage of the planning. The document becomes the project's "Marching Orders".

Each section of the battleplanning process will be described in two parts: (1) a series of insights and comments about what the ICA has learned through the use of this method; (2) a section on qualities of the method.


Indicative Battleplanning begins with discerning the Operating Vision, of the community. An Operating Vision is latent ­­ it is more unconscious than conscious, but it is always present. Persons representing the broader structures of society sometimes believe that local man is not wise, not bright, does not have creativity and is not intelligent. These people often believe that someone else must do local man's thinking for him. None of these premises is true. Often, the old and the young people in a community have more practical insight than those who have come to help. This wisdom is gathered together in their hopes and fears, their lifestyle and their social structures. The difficulty is getting that wisdom articulated. The consultant's task is to help local residents make overt their own consciousness and so express their Operating Vision.

To create the model of the Operating Vision both the objectivity of the consultants and the subjectivity of the local people are needed. No local community can know and understand its operating vision until that which is 'outside" or "other" has an encounter with it. This objective factor does not provide the vision; but it enables the vision to come forth. It provides the necessary tension and impact that allows the vision of local residents to be revealed.

In order to discern this operating vision, consult teams participate in an anticipatory workshop to familiarize themselves with what is already going on in a community in the way of local culture, community organization and social care. They prepare a field trip to gather data on the community, listing places to go, people to talk with and information to study. They discuss the appropriate style for the trip and select various routes that will geographically cover the community.

Consultants divide themselves into five teams for the trip and spend the entire day familiarizing themselves with the community. Along with taking an overall survey, each team is assigned to investigate closely a specific aspect of community life ­­ industry, business, services, social development and education. The teams engage in informal conversations with the residents and observe the local industries and facilities. They explore fields and fish ponds and accept the invitations of local residents to visit in their homes. It is not necessary to speak with every member of the community but it is important to talk with a representative group of residents.

After the site visit, the group reflects corporately on what it has seen and heard, what impressed it, what surprised it, what seemed to be unique to the community and what is left to find out about. Workshop sessions allow each team to exchange reports on the hopes and desires of the community. The consultants then make lists of what concerns the local people, what irritates them, what makes them uncomfortable and what they wish could be different. The data is then ordered into basic categories. Sentences and three­word phrases are written to hold each element of the data and these holding phrases are transferred onto long sheets of butcher paper for presentation to the entire group at a plenary session.

The plenary begins with the group looking at each of the categories arrived at by the subgroups. The titles given to the already organized data are erased, so as not to bind the larger group by these previous organizing themes. The group leader then asks the others to look at the columns of raw data and begin to identify "like" items. These like items are marked with like symbols so that new relationships between the items can be identified. The process is called cross-gestalting and it produces a new rational order for looking at the information. If two or three items remain, they may either be grouped together as an additional category or subsumed under one of the other created categories. Rarely will a gestalt category contain fewer then three items.

As soon as all the data has been accounted for, the leader calls for the group to give new titles to the categorized arenas. The method serves two purposes: to reveal the "transrational" order for the data which the group unconsciously intuits, and to reveal a new texture of richness and depth in the group's wisdom, objectifying the latent creativity in the whole group's intuition.

At the same time, the process discloses the Operating Vision of the local residents.


The next step is to identify the contradictions. Contradictional thinking is an anti-teleological approach to planning; it is anti­goals. It is difficult, frustrating work for most people because they have been taught to think in terms of goals. Most have been conditioned to think that once a practical vision is articulated, the work is done. But such a stance leaves one only in abstraction.

The process of contradictional thinking is a critical part of the consult. After the local Operating Vision has been discerned, the question is, "What is blocking that vision from coming into being?" Once that has been determined, the vision can be cast aside. Identifying the contradictions is the single most important thing in planning for social change.

It is most important to remember that a contradiction is not a problem. A contradiction is a coagulation of blocks that paralyze a practical vision at a particular moment in history. Therefore "contradiction" is not a negative term. In order to create change, one must first discern the basic contradictions. After discerning the foundational contradictions, it is possible to build proposals that come over against them. Contradictions are concrete; one must look at what people call problems in order to see a contradiction, but a contradiction is never to be confused with a problem.

Contradictions use the Yin Yang principle of tension Any situation from which change is to emerge needs tension. It has to do with the thin line between the rational and the irrational. It is the realm of the gap that any sensible person is aware of, the gap between someone's intention for a situation and what actually comes to be. In Western Philosophy, Hegel came closest to describing what a contradiction is. His whole philosophy was based upon thesis and antithesis out of which emerges synthesis. This was his understanding of the flow of history. Out of the tension of a thrust and a counter­thrust comes the "not­yet". Then this synthesis itself becomes a thrust. Contradictional thinking deals with the antithesis.

Contradictions are never stated in the negative. They never are stated beginning with the phrase "a lack of". Whenever a "lack of" is designated as a contradiction, then it takes on substance and becomes a large obstacle which keeps the project from moving forward. A simple way to begin thinking in terms of contradictions is to identify something going on and something blocking it from going on effectively. To attack the block releases movement. Movement does not take place unless the block is being attacked.

Contradictions are sociological, not psychological. "People are lazy" is never a contradiction. But the sociological phenomenon that causes their inactivity may well be the contradiction. Contradictional thinking begins with the premise that human beings have drive, have propensity. The question is, what is the socio­rock­in­the­middle­of­the­road that causes one to spend his whole day sleeping. Laziness is not a contradiction; it is a small problem and the real issue, the contradiction, lies down underneath it.

Contradictions deal with deep historical currents. Through a list of contradictions one can see the great waves of history, the deep currents that go against the past and carry a community into the future. In talking about these currents, there is no discussion of likes and dislikes; it is a discussion of the great waves that are simply there and without participating in them, one is, in effect, left out of the historical process.

Contradictions are never subjective; they have nothing to do with imperatives, only with indicatives. A sign that a contradiction has been hit upon is that it carries you into the next step ­­ writing proposals.

A contradiction has no center. It is like a black hole in space, or a whirlpool, in which all you can see are those objects swirling around them emptiness in the center which never finally discloses itself to you. The contradiction can only be spotted after the evidences of irritants and deterrents have been whirled profoundly into a new statement.


The following is a step­by­step approach to the way a consult team arrives at a particular community's underlying contradictions. The team opens Tuesday afternoon with an anticipatory workshop, discussing what they see going on in the different arenas of the Operating Vision, what was left out of the vision and where one would go to find out about it. The consult team, again in subgroups, makes another foray into the community. They use this second trip to note what irritates them and members of the community. The irritants provide the subjective clue which begins to move into the direction of discerning the contradiction. They might ask themselves: ''If we were magicians, with the power to change only one thing, what would we change. "

The team also looks for objective deterrents ­­ something that is obviously blocking something else. In looking at the structures of the society, what are the obvious deterrents to social change? A list of the irritants and deterrents creates the basic data out of which contradictions can be discerned.

Later in the day, the groups re-gather. They compile their data and expand it, looking for additional blocks. In a workshop, they then build a brainstorm list and ask what is THE block. How is that a block to X? The data is then refined and gestalted to the basic blocking factors that stand in the way of the whole vision. The group then lists an additional twenty or so blocks which significantly deter the vision.

At this point, all the teams meet in a plenary session for the purpose of "swirling" all of the teams' data. The swirling process begins by putting the work of each team before the total group. The data from the subgroups comes in the form of twenty prioritized contradictions. These are read aloud, one by one. As they are read, the leader writes an abbreviated holding term for each contradiction on the board ­­ spreading these phrases out across most of the surface. The leader than calls for each team to select the next three most important contradictions, but this time from another team's list. These, too, are plotted on the board. Then the leader calls for one person from each team to identify the next three most important items from the ten remaining on another team's list. These are also plotted on the board. Finally, all of the remaining items are plotted and those which overlap are eliminated.

The decision as to where to locate each item on the swirl is decidedly intuitional. The center of the board represents the position where the most overarching, all­determining contradictions will be placed. The outer edges represent those contradictions of least primary importance. By arranging the items in this manner, one screen of priorities appears. This is necessary insofar as in any situation, every contradiction is related to every other contradiction. This swirl creates a single matrix of contradictions clustered around certain sub-centers or clusters of contradictions. They are located at different points of the social process. As the items are gathered into clusters, new sets of relationships begin to emerge. After the first few items are placed on the board, each newly added item has to be placed in terms of how it relates to the other items already on the board. If it were similar to an item already on the board, it would be placed near it. If it were very dissimilar, it would be placed farther away.

If time permits, the leader may ask the group to intuit where to place each item on the swirl. Often, however, he may employ a shortcut and decide to place each item as he deems necessary, standing open, of course, to any modification the group might suggest. The leader must exercise discretion in how he calls for the reading of the contradictions, beginning with those he intuits to be most central and therefore which will allow him to build an adequate gestalt. Sometimes, as the data is plotted, it reveals a shift as the center of the contradictions swirls away from the leader's previously intuited location. If this occurs, he simply continues to plot the items, keeping his eye constantly on the center and the direction in which it may subsequently move again.

Once the plotting is completed, the group is asked to identify the various clusters into which the plotted items coagulate. The leader draws a heavy line around all related items that make up a given cluster as it is identified. Usually there are a large number of items clustered together. In fact, fewer than seven clusters tends to produce abstract categories instead of clearly identifying the major contradiction. These swirled clusters are then named and then subsumed items listed under each for use in the next step of the process. These clusters become the basis for a series of paragraphs describing the underlying contradictions of the project.

The final sessions on contradictions is conducted on the morning following this exercise when the teams review the contradictions chart and review what was done the day before. Then they break down into units and clump and name the sub-swirls, rename the contradictions and assign a person to write a holding paragraph for each. This work is then handed over to a designated writing team who will place the information on an Underlying Contradictions Chart in the form of short phrases. Then all the data is written into paragraph form.


The third task in Indicative Battleplanning is building Practical Proposals, or, a strategic plan of action which is a direct response to the Underlying Contradictions. From the outset, these proposals are grounded in the actual social situation. They are not abstracted from the actual situation nor are they superimposed upon it. While the Operating Vision reveals the conscious or unconscious image out of which the community operates, the Practical Proposals present clear recommendations for the direction the community must move in relation to the contradictions. In this sense, proposals represent judgments, or decisions, about the future. A proposal, however, is never something which is performed. Rather, it points to the crucial arenas of action for which tactics must be forged and implemented. Proposals are not written in relation to the Operating Vision. A proposal has only to do with releasing contradictions; that is what distinguishes it from a goal.

The Practical Proposal is an element of battleplanning that falls between a strategy and a tactic. It is not concerned with resolving the contradiction, only with releasing the contradiction toward creating the future. It is at this point the group must release all its creativity. It must begin to think wildly in terms of possible solutions. These proposals must be practical. They represent a discernment of what the community needs to do.

In order to create the proposals, consultants continue to work as teams organized according to broad arenas of expertise. Following further opportunities for site visits in the field, each team forges a series of detailed proposals which articulate the major actions needed to address the entire swirl of contradictions blocking the Operating Vision. The proposals represent strategic formulations of practical yet inclusive possibilities for the community. Finally the entire group working as one body in a plenary session, organizes the mass of data from the related proposals. The resulting model becomes the basis for developing the tactics required to shape the destiny of the community.

Later in the day, the teams review the plenary chart on proposals and review the assigned data. Four sub-proposals and four components of each are determined for each proposal. One person on the team is assigned to write a paragraph pulling together the insights of the group. After each subgroup shares its 4x4 with the team, a list of substantial tasks needed to actualize each proposal is made. The group then uses visits, interviews and model building, specific designs, materials and actions to answer the questions of What, How, Where for the actuation of each proposal. Then five to eight substantial tasks per sub-proposal are listed, each person intuitively cross­gestalts to six to fifteen basic tactics, a sample list is critiqued, additions are made, three to five word titles are given to each tactic and a comprehensive sentence is written to hold the tasks needed to carry out each proposal.


The fourth task of the Consult is to create the Tactical Systems. Tactics are the practical actions which become the concrete steps required to implement the proposals. The Tactical Systems describe and rationally organize the actions required to do the projects listed in the Practical Proposals Chart. At this point, the Operating Vision and Underlying Contradictions become a peripheral concern, in that they provide a broad context for designing the tactics. Social change is the product of tactical implementation ­­ not the grasping of a vision or the forging of proposals. The delineation of these tactical systems, therefore is perhaps the consult's most crucial activity.

The task of identifying the tactics and sub-tactics, however, is more than simply rationally organizing the raw data related to a particular holding phrase on the plenary chart into a master category and various sub­categories. It is, instead, the task of calling forth the "diamond from the rough." It requires understanding the coagulations of raw data as rough intuitions that reflect a profound insight into what tactical action is required. It calls for pressing beyond this glimpse to grasp hold of both the idea and the language of the new dynamic reality the Consult's corporate mind has discerned. The method by which this new reality is perceived or conceptualized must generate a leap of consciousness. The language in which the tactical action and its related sub-tactics are expressed must exclude words whose connotations block the accurate communication of the newly perceived tactical dynamic. It must describe what is being called for with an accuracy and power sufficient to describe an emergent new reality. The challenge of this task cannot be underestimated, for it is the practical exercise of giving shape to a new symbology. The profound burden of this step in the Consult method lies in the fact that its result ­­ the naming and defining of the subtactics ­­ determines the nature and direction of implementation, and therefore, of social change itself. It is at this point that the uniqueness and the authenticity of the model in relation to a particular local community is finally given practical substance. It is here that futuric local actuation is given both substance and form.

In order to discern the Tactical Systems out of the many tactics required for each of the proposals, the Consult experiences a task similar to piecing together a puzzle. The completed picture provides practical instruction for implementing the total project. The consultants proceed in this fourth step again in teams. Working in small groups, the consultants in each team create an inclusive list of the concrete actions required to effect their proposals. They, first of all, plan the necessary study and investigation into the community, where they do interviews and model building to get out specific answers to the What, How, Where questions already raised. Then they gather as units and list five to eight substantial tasks per sub-proposal, intuitively cross­gestalting these to six to fifteen basic tactics. Next they list other substantial tasks and write each one into a long sentence. They reunite as teams and read aloud their paragraphs and critique all the data according to practicality, applicability, substantiality and inclusiveness. They expand the data, refine and recheck it. The next step is to draw all this data into a list and create two­word titles and a topic sentence.

At the Friday morning plenary, all the teams place their data on coded cards and then place these on a large board designed with grids to hold these tactic sheets under columns assigned to each team. The basic tactics are held in phrases like "Food Crops", "Symbols", or "Business Support" (done in English as well as the local language). The leader calls for the most substantial tactics from each list and has these placed on the master board. The leader keeps calling for more tactics until all are on the board and questioned for applicability. While all this data is being rushed to the board, the leader is looking at the data and cross­gestalting it into a Tactical Systems Chart (see Methodological Diagram). The teams then refine what is produced.


The final task of the Human Development Project Consult is to organize the Tactical System into Actuating Programs. The programs provide precise structures or forms within which specific tactics will be carried out. These programs perform several essential functions: they make possible a broad cost analysis of the project and thereby become crucial instruments for its funding; they enable the creation of a relatively accurate phasing design for the total demonstration; they serve to organize both the local forces who implement the project and the extended forces who form its support network; and they release an imaginal power that motivates the local people, the project patrons and the public at large by reflecting the possibility, the inclusiveness and the unity of the entire Human Development Project.

The programs bring the tactics in focus in such a way that they simplify the building of implementaries on the local level. Also, though it is difficult to put tactics on a timeline, it is relatively simple to build a one, two, or four year program. Finally, programs motivate people. Tactics do not motivate; they come as a huge burden of impossibilities.

The creation of Actuating Programs first involves organizing the large body of sub-tactics into rational programs that are both locally feasible and possible to be effectively managed. These are then checked by the teams and refined in relation to the Proposals. The team, in order to check the comprehensiveness of its efforts, intuitively lists all the programs for doing all the tactics and proposals. That will tell them if they have adequately covered all the arenas. Two people from each team check for any overlap or limitations in the proposals and tactics. Then, by units, they list all the implementary specifications and, if possible, write them in prose or design. After reporting all the refinements, twelve to eighteen actuating programs are drawn up with three word titles.

Budgets are then drawn up for each of these programs, drawn out over at least a four year timeline. These are finally printed on a budget chart which shows actual monies needed. It should indicate a large necessity for public and private funding in the first year, with noticeable decreases in the amounts of outside assistance needed by the fourth year. The local funds from the community itself are minimal during the first year, but they increase immensely by the fourth year. This dramatically illustrates the fact the key in all budgeting in this project is to allow the local community to become self­sufficient.

Implementaries are the concrete steps to be taken by the local forces in doing the subtactics and programs. Each required step, once determined, is placed on a daily, weekly, or monthly timeline. The creation of Timelined Implementaries, however, is not a task of the Consult but of the local forces themselves, for it is the local people who must live out these implementaries, actualizing them daily in their particular community.