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Methods for Effective Action

You must take action. 

You must do the impossible.

Because giving up is never an option.

Greta Thunberg

Young Swedish Climate Activist

This section is a collection of ICA planning methods.

Over the years many of them have been consolidated into

The Technology of Participation family of methods. See also the ToP Network.


Many of the ICA’s current planning methodologies, taught and used around the world, were developed and refined in the field over decades and under various names. Training is now offered for a variety of planning methods through The Technology of Participation courses in strategic planning and action planning. ICA sees planning as a way for those who will be affected by the planning, i.e. the stakeholders, to participate in and own the outcome, including implementation of the plan. Below are some of the earliest versions. 


The Operating Principles of Intra-Global Movement – Introduction

The following twelve groups of operating principles contain those guidelines drawn from movement experience of some 20 years. The principles range from references to the Art of War by Sun Tzu to the most recent insights gained from work in local community development around the world. 

Battle Planning Process

Battle Planning was one of the earliest forms of complex planning. It has always been a powerful approach though, over the years, the war imagery morphed into terminology less evocative of violence.


An early graphic for understanding the steps of Battle Planning, an ICA strategic planning approach: Vision, Contradictions, Proposals, and Tactics, that preceded the current ICA Strategic Planning process. From the Local Community Methods Lab, The Academy, Spring 1975

The Revolutionary As Indicative Battle Planner, James Wiegel, Chicago Centrum, Social Methods School 

Yes, It Is Possible To Do Indicative Battle Planning in One Weekend!  Washington, D.C Regional Council Trek, December 1975

The Battle Planning Lab (Talk) Gary Tomlinson, 8/2/75

Areal Battle Planning Context (Talk) George Walters, 1974 

Consensus Building & Corporate Action


Clues to Achieving Consensus – A Leader’s Guide to Navigating Collaborative Problem-Solving by Mirja P. Hanson

“A step-by-step guide to effective action for school districts, agencies, organizations, and communities using consensus decision making. It is based on the advice of experienced public and private leaders and participants who have used consensus approaches to solve problems”.  Mirja Hanson

Available on Amazon


The Consensus We Seek in ToP (The Technology of Participation) by Gordon Harper for ICA West

Distinguishes creating consensus from other ways of coming to agreement or making decisions in a group by writing twenty-one brief contrasting phrases, “Consensus is not so much (this) as it is (this)”. These distinctions illuminate the values underlying consensus building and the experience of the group involved as they build consensus.

Talk on Decision Making by Joseph W. Mathews, mp3

More Than Fifty Ways To Build Team Consensus, 2nd Edition, by R. Bruce Williams 

“People who participate in genuine dialogue over an issue, in the midst of sharing a variety of perspectives, are often willing to bend their own private opinions and desires in order to arrive at an effective group decision. That final product is a consensus. The process of thinking together, assuring everyone that each perspective is heard and moving toward a decision is also a consensus.”… “The process of experiencing consensus is deeply energizing.”   Bruce Williams

Available on Amazon

Developing Practical Consensus, Gary Forbes and Cynthia Vance, Facilitation News, IAF, Vol 3, # 2, August 1996, p.20 

IAF Consensus Think Tank – A Session at the International Association of Facilitators Association, Report 1998


IAF Consensus Think Tank Report 1999, The Art and Science of Consensus, Mirja P. Hanson, R. Bruce Williams


Corporate Action 

How groups structure themselves enables individuals to have access to the wisdom of the group.

Corporate Action, Global Research Centrum: Chicago, Rick Laudermilk, Social Methods School 12/13/74


The Dynamic of Research, James Wiegel, Ecumenical Institute, Chicago, November 30, 1971 

  1. Principles of Research, II. Structures of Research, III. Methods of Research IV. Methods of Research, IV Operation of Research



The Corporate Reading Research Project (CRRP) portfolio was designed in the winter quarter of 1971 as an experiment in corporate research methodology. During the spring quarter over 1500 books were “reviewed/screened” by the global movement and sent to the Chicago center. The research methodology was refined to organize the material into a research instrument for Summer ’71. It was the foundational research for building the Social Process Triangles (See also the Social Change Collection.)

Guide To The Corporate Reading Research Portfolio and Coding

Reading Research Portfolio – The History

History, Construct and Use of the Portfolio, Summer 1971, Research Assembly, ICA Chicago



Corporate study was the foundational work ensuring the curricula, programs, and methods rested on intellectual and social integrity. It provided a common contextual frame of reference and a level playing field for creating action plans to care for the world.



Corporate writing develops a corporate consensus on an issue, then communicates the essential information concerning that consensus to others in written form. The corporate consensus is developed as the group assembles its insights concerning a particular issue, uses these to articulate further creative thinking, examines alternatives, and records one of these in written form. 


The necessity of choosing one particular approach in the issue, the first function, points to the whole process of the group toward achieving the consensus that will make this possible. Here, content is the main question. The second function, that of communicating the corporate insights, raises the question of writing style. To ground a statement in one’s own experience requires that the statement be understood and that it be clear. But understandability is only one factor in communication. Corporate writing uses the underlying structure of the artform methodology which is based upon the assumption that communication has a four-level identification of the realities being discussed, observation of the relationships between these realities, an assessment of the possible ways of relating to those realities and a decision as to which of these relationships to act upon. A written document which wishes to communicate in the full sense invites participation at each of these levels.


Corporate Writing Methodology 

By Clair Woodbury   

This is a modified description of the methodology used by Guild 14, during the Summer ’74 Global Research Assembly, to write the document on Ontological Love.

More models for effective action

For information on capturing the decisions around action, see the section on Documentation.


Adventure of Supercilitator, facilitation comic book by Walluy Styler, 2005

Action will remove the doubt that theory cannot solve.    ~ Tehyi Hsieh