If you have worked in any sort of organization that relies on people to fund your action, attend your events, or rally around an idea or cause you've probably heard the term “Ladder of Engagement.” It’s often held up as the holy standard in community organizing. For those unfamiliar it works a little like this:
- A person is introduced to your organization or cause (in person, social media, a sign or poster, some form of media, etc.)
- They are asked to take an initial action. Maybe it’s just sign up for info.
- They are then asked to take a next successive action. (In modern times maybe like some content or sign a petition.)
- They take that action and then the next action and are moved along up the ladder to some ultimate actions.
Here is where I say this idea is deeply flawed. Maybe it made sense in the pre-web-2.0 pre-accessible-data world but I imagine even then it didn't work. But this idea of a ladder is the easiest way for an organization to wrap its head around getting action or resources from people to fuel it’s mission.
But it’s time to throw away the ladder and embrace the Matrix of Engagement!