Global Research Assembly
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.