The Kernel: A Tool for Developing Good Strategy (and Avoiding Bad Strategy)
The Sunrise Movement successfully relied on the “strategy kernel for campaigning.” The kernel involves three elements: a diagnosis that defines or explains the nature of the challenge, a guiding policy for dealing with the challenge, and a set of coherent actions that are designed to carry out the guiding policy. The Sunrise Movement used the kernel by convening the leadership team for a meeting to discuss each layer of the kernel; usually, a small team then took responsibility for completing the kernel, providing overarching direction for our shared work. In strategy work for movements, this resource’s author has been part of many conversations that began instead with deliberating the third layer of the kernel—the actions the group should take—and ended up spiraling into disagreement. The #ChangeTheDebate campaign in the spring and summer of 2019 is an example of how Sunrise used the kernel: Diagnosis—a central challenge is that the Green New Deal (GND) is polarized and presidential candidates are not talking about it because of the strategic narrative attacks from Fox/right-wing media; Guiding Policy—the movement must force presidential candidates to publicly and boldly talk about the GND in the media; Coherent Actions—launch the campaign will compelling visuals, host debate watch parties across the movement, catalyze a centralized mass action, birddog Biden and other candidates, and run a targeted, escalated action demanding time during the debate devoted to climate.