Category Archives: DILC

DILC and the ProblemLady; Phase 2, the industry

The Dialectic Issue LifeCycle Model (DILC) is a very cool heuristic for thinking about how some societal problems become issues, what industry does when the problems climb the political agenda and how the issues are (or aren’t) ‘resolved’.  Here’s a video starring its progenitors.  The DILC has five phases, and looks at three categories of actors in detail – those trying to get the issue onto the agenda, those trying to keep it off/to shape the problem into a soluble issue, and the state functionaries (elected and non-elected).

Last year I came up with the idea of each of these ideal types writing letters to an agony aunt during each of the phases, seeking her strategic advice.  I am posting these 15 (well, 16) letters and responses, one per day, over the next two weeks or so.

Today, Phase 2, industry.

Dear ProblemLady,

That problem you told us to ignore?  Yeah, well, the activists didn’t go away when we ignored them.  They’ve now started getting some articles in specialist magazines and at 3am on the radio.  That junior Minister we thought was in our pocket?  They’ve started muttering about setting up a stakeholder panel.  Some of our more neurotic vice-presidents, who are paid to worry about these things, say they can see this going wrong for us like leaded petrol and DDT.  How do we nip this in the bud?

Company Under Less Timid Surveillance

Answer:  Thanks for your letter, CULTS. First off, I didn’t say a strategy of tacitcal silence would definitely work.  Be nice to ProblemLady, or else she might tell the world about that embarrassing personal problem you had last year after the convention in Las Vegas, capisce?

Now, hire some PR flak and see if they can say the following with a straight face. “It’s not a problem. And the problem is not our fault. And I never borrowed that broken kettle from you.” There is still every chance  that the activists will get tired, distracted, disheartened. Don’t attack them in public. Instead, get your mates in the media (you HAVE cultivated mates in the media, haven’t you?) to do your dirty work for you.  Remember the smears against Ralph Nader, Rachel Carson and so on? Of course you don’t, those were 50 years ago. Ask your archivist.

And while you re setting up these counter-attacks, it might also be good to think about some industry front group along the lines of the old  Global Climate Coalition.  Spread uncertainty, raise the spectre of job losses. That sort of thing.

DILC and the ProblemLady; Phase 2, the activists

The Dialectic Issue LifeCycle Model (DILC) is a very cool heuristic for thinking about how some societal problems become issues, what industry does when the problems climb the political agenda and how the issues are (or aren’t) ‘resolved’.  Here’s a video starring its progenitors.  The DILC has five phases, and looks at three categories of actors in detail – those trying to get the issue onto the agenda, those trying to keep it off/to shape the problem into a soluble issue, and the state functionaries (elected and non-elected).

Last year I came up with the idea of each of these ideal types writing letters to an agony aunt during each of the phases, seeking her strategic advice.  I am posting these 15 (well, 16) letters and responses, one per day, over the next two weeks or so.

Today, Phase two, the activists.

Dear ProblemLady,

At last!  We’ve been banging away for ages. We were about to give up, but finally some journalists and funders have started “getting it.” And that big disaster may have helped focus people’s attention, it’s true.  What should we expect next?

Coalition Raising Alarm Permanently

Oh, CRAP,  be careful what you wish for.  You  will get invited to attend all sorts of panels and committees and hearings.  Because of your limited resources (how are the bake sales going, btw?) you will have to choose between being “insiders” and DOING stuff to build grassroots support, concern and capacity.  Choose wisely.

DILC and the ProblemLady; Phase 1, the state

The Dialectic Issue LifeCycle Model (DILC) is a very cool heuristic for thinking about how some societal problems become issues, what industry does when the problems climb the political agenda and how the issues are (or aren’t) ‘resolved’.  Here’s a video starring its progenitors.  The DILC has five phases, and looks at three categories of actors in detail – those trying to get the issue onto the agenda, those trying to keep it off/to shape the problem into a soluble issue, and the state functionaries (elected and non-elected).

Last year I came up with the idea of each of these ideal types writing letters to an agony aunt during each of the phases, seeking her strategic advice.  I am posting these 15 (well, 16) letters and responses, one per day, over the next two weeks or so.

Today, Phase one, the state

Dear Problem Lady,

I am an official in the Department of Administrative Affairs. We keep getting long letters and petitions addressed to the Minister from some outfit called “Raise the Alarm.” It appears to be made up of the usual suspects and a few bee-in-their-bonnet scientists. What should we do?

Would Extreme Brevity Expedite Retreat?

My goodness, WEBER, if I am having to give you advice on how to “lose” correspondence, then the hollowing out of the state has progressed further than I feared.  As I told CURTS, whom I believe sponsors your department’s annual picnic, and fact-finding trips to Tahiti and Davos, nine times out of ten these “RTA” types give up and go away.  Lose the correspondence. File it in the circular file.  If you must, by law, give replies, make sure these are carefully-worded boilerplate full of meaningless buzzwords. Don’t they teach you anything in Bureaucrat Academy anymore?.

DILC and the Problem Lady; Phase 1, the industry

The Dialectic Issue LifeCycle Model (DILC) is a very cool heuristic for thinking about how some societal problems become issues, what industry does when the problems climb the political agenda and how the issues are (or aren’t) ‘resolved’.  Here’s a video starring its progenitors.  The DILC has five phases, and looks at three categories of actors in detail – those trying to get the issue onto the agenda, those trying to keep it off/to shape the problem into a soluble issue, and the state functionaries (elected and non-elected).

Last year I came up with the idea of each of these ideal types writing letters to an agony aunt during each of the phases, seeking her strategic advice.  I am posting these 15 (well, 16) letters and responses, one per day, over the next two weeks or so.

Today, Phase one, industry.

Dear ProblemLady,

we’ve found out via, ahem, friends that some activists from some group called Raise the Alarm are trying to kick up a stink about our core business. They claim we are rapacious planet-raping monsters. Or something.  Should we get our legitimate business associates Guido and Larry to explain the facts of life?

Company Under Relatively Timid Suspicion.

Holy shit no, CURTS. Are you crazy?  Ignore them.  Nine times out of ten (at least) these sorts give up and go away. Especially if there’s a bigger sexier issue that their fellow problem-mongers are campaigning on.  There’ll be another war in the Middle East soon enough, and your Raise The Alarm irritants will be alive (ixnay with the Guido and Larry!!!) and kicking against other pricks.  Do NOT contact Guido and Larry. Sheesh.

DILC and the Problem Lady; Phase 1, the activists

The Dialectic Issue LifeCycle Model (DILC) is a very cool heuristic for thinking about how some societal problems become issues, what industry does when the problems climb the political agenda and how the issues are (or aren’t) ‘resolved’.

You can see an old video I made here, that stars its progenitors, Prof Frank Geels and Caetano Penna.

The DILC has five phases, and looks at three categories of actors in detail – those trying to get the issue onto the agenda, those trying to keep it off/to shape the problem into a soluble issue, and the state functionaries (elected and non-elected).

Last year I came up with the idea of each of these ideal types writing letters to an agony aunt during each of the phases.  I will publish these 15 (well, 16) letters, one per day, over the next two weeks or so.

Today, Phase one, the activists

Dear Problem Lady,
We are passionate activists, from the pressure group Raise The Alarm. Why does nobody care? We’ve contacted journalists, other activists, everyone. They just give us blank stares. This issue is Important, dammit. What should we do?

Activists Trying To Engage Normal Types In Outrage Now

What can I say, ATTENTION? You know the answers, but you wish there were a magic bullet. There is only hard work, timing (aka luck) and reflection on how you are going as you’re going (you have got some success metrics sorted, haven’t you?) Don’t give up. Unless you should give up, of course.