6) JULIE CLAUSSEN: How the ABT made me work smarter.

I run a small NGO with the over-arching goal to “make a difference”. While that goal can be applied as the lofty target of most organizations, it still serves as guiding mantra for those of us that voluntarily dedicate our sweat and tears to protecting aquatic biodiversity. Why spend the considerable time and effort designing ways to educate various stakeholders if we can’t make a difference? I spend much of my time educating stakeholders so they can be convinced that protecting habitat and native fisheries will make the world will be a better place…But the time scale of making a measurable difference is moving at a snail’s pace, and we are running out of time. In our current world, faced with the plethora of human pressures, climate change, overpopulation, etc., a snail’s pace will not save native fish or their habitats. Therefore, if I was to continue my work with any sense of hope and making a difference, then I needed to work smarter and overhaul my communication approach.

Enter, the ABT framework. I was a student in the first ABT course and that began my journey of eureka moments on how to restructure our messaging and how to get people to lean-in to those messages. The ABT framework is now a key part of how we design our communications about our foundation’s programs, starting with the Dobzhansky Template, to the conversational ABT, and then to the gritty work of designing the exact message I am trying to convey. The ABT process forces me to do three main things: focus on what the core issue is, determine why people should care, and provide a satisfactory resolution. This process makes me work smarter, both in efficiency and in reaching our constituents. I can say goodbye to missed opportunities, farewell to long diatribes filled with tangential information, and adios to blank faces staring back at me. I feel empowered with the tools I need to convey why our work matters and instill in our audiences that the time for action is now.