As I left work on Friday I noticed that Occupy Wall Street (OWS) is revving up once again; so on that note, I am going to take a quick detour from my series ‘I Wish I Had Known’ to share my thoughts on the one key area that OWS failed to deliver, which really hurt their momentum and impact.
What They Did Well
OWS did a few things very well. They maintained a media presence. They were a scalable/cell based organization (problems in occupy X would not affect occupy Y) and they presented a model for the youth of other nations to copy. Additionally, they resonated with the public (at first). They raised concerns over a valid issue, and they made it easy to get involved. You could donate, you could support – and you could occupy! All these things were done fairly well – however, they missed a key step.
The Achilles Heel
OWS failed to provide one thing: an alternative. After they jumped and screamed that Wall Street was pillaging America, the world looked to them and said “okay, so what do we do about it?”, which they had no response to. OWS has failed in so much that they created a buzz, and then failed to turn that buzz into any credible action. They have failed to provide those who believe in the cause with a venue to show their support. Until OWS can present the American (and global) public with an alternative to the current system (i.e. if you want to fix Wall Street, the public needs to get behind ____ ), they will continue to flounder.
Movements are great – but the movement needs to be towards something. They need to offer an alternative to the current status quo that is being condemned, and that learning is universal. Whether it’s a product, service, or social cause – if you are going to promote revolution, it needs to have a defined goal, a tangible endpoint, or else it results in confusion and unrest, with no material effect. As one of my favourite quotes reads: “Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.” OWS has the action, but they still need to define the vision.
Blair Livingston’s Blog