Chris Rose’s “How to Win Campaigns”: Motivational Values

Chris Rose’s How to Win Campaigns is an asset for campaigners, particularly its chapter on Motivational Values. The chapter explains how society is composed of three distinct values-based groupings of citizens, and how messages and actions can be tailored to fit the values of each group. I explore motivational values and their implications below.


chris rose how to win campaigns book coverI’ve recently finished Chris Rose’s How to Win Campaigns. Dan Lewis-Toakley, whose gravity-defying hair characterised many a Live Below the Line video, recommended it to me. The cat, Chris Rose, also ran a campaigning masterclass in Melbourne. I thought I had better go prepared.

The book is…well, it’s not a book. It’s a compendium. It’s vast. It’s detailed. It has many diagrams. I suspect it will thwart my attempts to pithily summarise it. In this situation I do what any sane-thinking person would: reflect on discrete components. In this case, the chapter on motivational values.

How To Win Campaigns on Motivational Values

I hope it is gradually becoming accepted knowledge that people are basically batshit irrational when it comes to decision-making. Most of our decision-making is subconscious and influenced by a variety of factors completely independent of self-interest or reason. Various different models and concepts exist to help one understand this, and I’m certainly a fan of what Lakoff has had to say (start here, then go here. Then here if you’re serious.). I think the model in How to Win Campaigns adds a great deal.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. In the application that Rose describes, the information is shown not as a hierarchy but in a circle.

It corresponds to Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The thesis is that any population contains people in any one of three states, differentiated by what their dominant need is from the Hierarchy. People begin in “sustenance-driven” (SD) mode, in which the dominant need is for safety (security, stability also feature). This group is known as settlers. Once these needs are “fully met”, an individual may move to the “outer-directed” (OD) mode, in which their dominant need is success (the esteem of others, external recognition). We call these people prospectors. Finally, once esteem needs are met, people move into the “inner-directed” (ID) phase. Here the dominant need is ethics (self-actualisation, an ethical identity). ID people are known as pioneers. (Chris Rose suggests you do a short questionnaire here and determine your own type.)

A few notes:

  • New behaviours start with pioneers, then may be emulated by prospectors, and only then (once normalised) adopted settlers. Pioneers are looking for new and different experiences and are more willing to risk the social consequences of being different. Once a behaviour is adopted amongst pioneers, “Now People” (one of four sub-groups within the ‘prospector’ grouping) may adopt it. This is a significant process of normalising a previously odd behaviour, making it possible for mainstream settlers to adopt it.
  • It’s much easier to change behaviours than values. Behaviours start with pioneers, move to prospectors, and only then are taken up by settlers. Over a much longer time frame, social change means that settlers tend to meet their dominant need and shift into the prospector phase. Because the behaviour change happens much more rapidly, it is a much more effective means of effecting social change. Effective campaigns meet people where they are at, they speak to people in their own values language, and can motivate their action using their own values.
  • Pioneers are natural recruits to campaigns. They are the most open to new things and to change, and less likely to fear a loss of respect or defiance of authority. This is also a challenge to campaigners: how do we design campaigns that prospectors or settlers are motivated to join? What must be different in our messages or our actions?
  • Prospectors are motivated by what is fashionable or fun. Prospectors won’t join a cause because it’s worthy. Their dominant need is for external validation, not to be ethically fulfilled! If campaigners want to reach prospectors – a crucial step towards influencing society’s behaviour – they must be able to speak to these needs.
  • Settlers stay in their comfort zone. They are influenced by authority. This means that campaigns targeting settlers must play to this inherent conservatism.

Motivational Values and Campaigns

How might this model be applied? My thoughts turn to the Repower Port Augusta campaign. This is a remarkable campaign, partly because it can so effectively appeal to settlers, prospectors, and pioneers. This is achieved by the variety of both messages and tactics.

I recently took part in the Walk for Solar, a 328km, 14-day walk from Port Augusta to Adelaide. This walk drew pioneers from the core of the AYCC, individuals driven by a need for self-actualisation who saw the walk as a chance to act on an issue important to them. It also promised “Now People” (from the prospector group) the possibility of new experiences and adventure. Pioneers are also motivated by a message about building Australia’s first baseload solar thermal plant and doing something about climate change.

A picture of the walk for solar, part of the repower port augusta campaign. The picture illustrates a group doing an activity aimed at pioneers, in accordance with the motivational values stuff discussed in Chris Rose's 'How To Win Campaigns'

AYCC’s ‘Walk For Solar’: pioneering.

What does Repower Port Augusta offer settlers? The campaign talks often about the employment benefits for Port Augusta, the security that baseload solar thermal offers, reliable electricity and clean energy jobs. Port Augusta faces an uncertain future: its two coal stations are on their way out. Many locals are thus likely to be concerned with issues of security and stability, and the prospect of baseload solar thermal offers that. That’s how settlers are reached in terms of message; the concept also applies to tactics. A community vote held in Port Augusta fielded over 4,000 votes, an incredible turnout in a town of around 15,000. In comparison, a rally in Port Augusta to mark the beginning of the Walk for Solar had a poor turn out. This could be because a rally is an extra-parliamentary tactic that doesn’t fit with the identity of settlers. The community vote, on the other hand, while also extra-parliamentary, mimics a process fundamental to our democracy, one which most of us have practised and are familiar with. The community vote is thus a tactic that resonates with settlers and allows them to participate.

There’s a lot in Chris Rose’s How to Win Campaigns; this is just the tip of the iceberg. The chapter on motivational values was fascinating and useful. Understanding the different needs of different value-groups and how this influences their behaviour and decision-making allows campaigners to deliberately tailor messages and tactics to better fit the range of values and motivations present in society.

There’s a lot on motivational values that didn’t make it into this post – please comment if you have anything to add or ask.

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