24. The Bridge
A Primary Tool
Description and Purpose:
The bridge is a visioning and planning tool that can be used to help organizations to assess where they are now, where they want to be, and how to bridge the gap.
Participants draw or list characteristics of their current situation. Then they visualize where they would like to be, and draw this (or represent it with symbols). This can be done through a guided meditation, or just through using the following useful tool:
These can then be mapped on the bridge diagram (see below).
Then, the aim is to construct a bridge between two sections, with the uprights being the key supporting/enabling factors.
An effective way of reaching this point is to begin by brainstorming all the things that need to be achieved or ‘got right’ in order to reach the right hand side of the bridge (the point where you want to be). Use ‘Post Its’, with idea on each. Make it clear that each major thing that needs to be achieved – strategies, aspirations or actions - should be included, regardless of whether it is directly related to the advocacy campaign (e.g. funding, staffing etc.).
When this process has finished, group the ideas into pillars (or columns) of similar themes. These will then represent the key themes that need to be tackled to reach the desired end point. This constructs a bridge between the two stages.
Be sensitive to the group dynamic, and guard against domination. People of lower status may be unwilling to challenge the status quo regarding the current state of the organization, decisions regarding the future and how to get there.
The benefits of this tool are that it:
- Builds a common vision and sense of purpose.
- Helps local and external people to better understand their aims and potential contributions.
- Lends structure to analysis and planning