10 Elements of an Ideal Organizer (according to Saul Alinsky)

(ref: Rules for Radicals by Saul Alinsky, pg 72-80)

  1. Curiosity. The organizer is driven by a compulsive curiosity that knows no limits. “Curiosity killed a cat” has no meaning to the organizer.
  2. Irreverence. Nothing is sacred. The organizer detests dogma, finite definitions of morality, rebels against any repression of a free, open search for ideas.
  3. Imagination. It ignites and feeds the force that drives the organizer to organize for change.
  4. A sense of humor. Laughter is not just a way to maintain sanity but also a key to understanding life.
  5. A bit of a blurred vision of a better world. While working on his/her own small bit, an organizer can keep going with a blurred vision of a great mural where multitudes of others are also painting their bits.
  6. An organized personality. An organized organizer is able to be comfortable in a disorganized situation, rational in a sea of irrationality.
  7. A well-integrated political schizoid. An organizer can polarize an issue 100 to nothing and help lead his/her forces into the conflict while remembering there will come a time for negotiation and that in reality there is only a 10% difference between the two sides.
  8. Ego. There is an unreserved confidence in one’s ability to do what must be done.
  9. A free and open mind, and political relativity. An organizer becomes a flexible personality, not a rigid structure that breaks when something unexpected happens. In the political world, all values are relative. An organizer avoids disillusionment by not succumbing to illusion.
  10. Creating the new out of the old. New ideas come out of challenge to the sacred ideas of the past and the present and inevitably a conflict has raged.

The basic difference between the leader and an organizer:

  • The leader goes on to build power to fulfill desires, to hold and wield power for purposes both social and personal. The leader wants the power.
  • An organizer finds a goal in creation of power for others to use.

Also check out 8 Stages of Successful Social Movements.