Fight + Build = Power

When designing a campaign narrative, rallying cry, or case for support, the equation I always use is:

Fight + Build = Power

Fighting gives you urgency and consequence. Building gives you hope and endurance. You need both.

Fighting is an active frame full of individual agency, possibility, and passion. There is a villain to provide the urgency, and the ‘other’ to help define the moment and the identity of the group of people pushing back. Fight narratives are like adrenaline shots. They do a massive amount of work in a very short time but wear out really quickly.

The build narrative provides the aspiration. What you’re trying to achieve rather than prevent. The hope and sense of shared creation. The build narrative tells you what’s possible, where you’re going, and why it matters. It’s also lasting: it’s what will keep someone engaged over years rather than hours or weeks.

One doesn’t work without the other. Fight provides no aspiration. Build provides no urgency. “I have a dream.” vs. “The sky is falling.”

Strategic Development Workshop - Materials

You can think of it as a sine wave, passing back and forth between those two poles. You want to spend about 70% of your time in ‘build’. But you want to bring out ‘fight’ for those adrenaline shots / catalytic moments.

I just discovered Tony Benn. The dude’s got anger, insight, and eloquence. Excited to find out that he has used this same frame throughout his career. (The whole speech is worth watching.)

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