Tools & Resources

PICO Training: Power

Training & Strategy Reflections & Trainings

February 10, 2009 | Download Document

PICO Training


We are interested in developing leaders' understanding of power and the dynamics of the power arena. 

Learning Objectives:

  1. Understand that power is is neutral and refers to the ability to act.
  2. Power is necessary to achieve organizational goals.
  3. It's important to be comfortable with and understand our own power and our organizational power.

Key Principles:

Relationships are based on quid pro quo

Power is taken, not given

Power is best when channeled

No permanent friends, no permanent enemies

Potential Faith References:


Outline of Training on Power #1 - What is Power? 

Power is the ability to act; it is neither good or bad, it's neutral

Power is a product of relationship.

Communities where people have relationships with one another have the ability to act.  The have power. Communities where people are isolated from one another are powerless; they lack the ability to act, and to defend themselves.

To build power, we must build relationships, with one another, with public officials, and with others who have power.

In the public arena, power comes in two forms: organized people and organized money.  We are in the organized people business. Most political activity is driven by organized money, or campaign donations.

Training on "power"

Purpose of this training- to have leaders critically examine their assumptions about power and to think about power in a positive way

- Introduce idea, write "power" on board

- Ask leaders how they react to the concept of power, how do they feel about it?

- Do they think of power as a good thing? A bad thing? Do they want power? How do they perceive powerful people? Do they think of themselves as powerful people?

- Explore negative and positive notions of power common in our broader culture (power corrupts etc..)

- Put forward PICO's definition of power as the ability to act,

- Depending on the situation, you may further define power (power in relationship, power as organized money or organized people)

- Discuss the pros and cons of having power- what do we gain as a community by having power?  What happens if we do not have power?  What is our current situation?

Outline of Training on Power #2- How does Power function?

The power arena has its own rules. Those in the power arena only respect others who understand how power works (power respects power).

What are some of the rules of the power arena?

#1 Power rests in relationships. Relationships are based on quid pro quo, or "something for something."  In strong relationships, both parties benefit. To build a relationship, it is key to understand the interests of the other party.

#2- No permanent friends, no permanent enemies.  Relationships in the power arena are based on interests.

 #3- Power is given, not taken.  Those in power typically do not share their power.  To gain power, we have to be willing to take power.  Change requires tension

#4- Power is best when channeled.  We act most effectively when we focus our efforts and when we are clear about what we want.

#5- Real power is often hidden.  Many powerful interests in our communities operate behind the scenes. Their power is greater when it is hidden.  When it is brought out in the light of day, this kind of power loses some of its potency.

Outline of Training on Power #3 - "Power respects power"

- Begin discussion by raising the question "From our research meeting and/or from our actions, what are we learning about the power arena?"

- A PICO principle is that power only respects itself, or power respects power.  This means that the power arena has its own rules.  Those in power only respect others who know the rules.  Some of those rules are:

- relationships are based on quid pro quo

- power is taken, not given

- power is best when channeled

- no permanent friends, no permanent enemies

- Over the last few months, where we have seen these principles put into practice?  How do elected officials in our community use these principles?

- How do these principles help us develop strategy?  Which power principle is most relevant right now?

- How have we gained the respect of those in power?  When have we demonstrated our knowledge of the rules? What could we do to gain more power?