Recently, a number of people have used Magnify to solve community issues, which we wrote about in “Barn raising and Success”. These successes led us to analyze these projects, to see what we could learn about what made them successful. Here we pass along a few tips that we noticed as part of our study of these successful Magnify projects.
A clearly defined and achievable project goal
First, a successful Magnify project needs a clear and achievable goal. While many community issues are complex, if you can reduce that complexity , that’s going to make your project more interesting to the Magnify community, and make it much easier for you to get the issue solved.
For example, in my neighborhood there are few sidewalks, and many speeding cars on the streets. In situations like these, it’s easy to just call or email someone in City Hall and complain about speeding traffic. But that’s not going to necessarily produce a real solution to the problem. Instead, a few of my neighbors looked carefully at the flow of traffic in our neighborhood, and realized that if we got the City to put a stop sign in at a particular intersection, that would help to calm traffic at a place where it would matter a great deal for pedestrian safety. That’s a clear and achievable goal — rather than just complaining to the City about speeding cars, the neighborhood got together and asked the City to install a stop sign at a particular intersection (which the City eventually did, and which has helped calm traffic considerably in the neighborhood).
So reduce complex problems to achievable and defined goals.
A second aspect of successful Magnify projects is that they ask the Magnify community to do something simple and straightforward. Usually that action is contacting a specific individual in a government office or agency, or a specific individual in an organization. Also, tell the Magnify community what to say — if you want a baby changing table in your local pizzeria (our Pi Pizzeria example), explain the issue to the Magnify community, tell them exactly who to contact (in this case the pizzeria manager or owner), and suggest exactly what they might say in their communications.
Again, in the example from my neighborhood, the ask turned out to be simple: a stop sign at a specific intersection. There were a lot of reasons that this stop sign became the neighborhood-preferred solution, but in the end it gave our neighbors and the City something very specific to discuss, and it gave us all a very clear objective to accomplish.
Making the action clear to the Magnify community is important for the success of your project.
Finally, it is clear that doing some research before you make your project available for the Magnify community to view is important. Most importantly, you need to determine who can solve the issue, and how to best contact them. From your perspective, it may not always be perfectly clear who has the power to help you solve your problem — and if it isn’t clear to you, it won’t be clear to the Magnify community.
In the case of the speeding traffic in my neighborhood, it turned out that the best person to contact wasn’t the City, traffic engineers, or the police. Our city council members have field representatives — and some phone calls and emails from concerned neighbors to the field representative (with a specific request for a stop sign), got the City to act. So finding the right person who can solve your issue is crucial for project success.
Finding a specific individual in the appropriate branch of government, or in the right organization, is crucial for the success of your project. Is it better to try to contact that individual by email, or by phone? Or perhaps to organize your team to show up at a government hearing or meeting? Do your research, and answer these questions before you finalized your Magnify project. That will help you build a successful Magnify project!