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Ratcheting (DRAFT)

Ratcheting is a management technique for improving a situation over time. For example, first you set a goal of reducing defects to 10%. If the current defect rate is 12%, that that feels achievable by the workers, who gladly set up measurements and processes to get there. When that is achieved, you set the goal to 5%. When that is achieved you set the goal to 1%. And so on and so on. The point is that if you had set the goal to 1% at the start people would feel it is hopeless and not work on it. Ratcheting works very well.

ratchet set A ratchet gear The name "ratcheting" comes from the name of the tool called a "ratchet", pictured on the left. The key element of that tool is that it only turns in one direction.

The key part of such a device is the "Ratchet and pawl" mechanism, pictured on the right.

In politics, the ratcheting technique is also useful.

For the last 15 years when we've fought for Marriage Equality, the radical right was smart enough to not say they are against it for the real homophobic beliefs that they hold. They said, "Why aren't civil unions good enough?" When states pushed for civil unions they said, "why isn't domestic partnership enough?" When we pushed for domestic partnership we were told, "it's too expensive".

We've seen D.P. in New Jersey, Civil Unions in Vermont, as so on and so on. All of these have shown that "almost enough" isnt good enough. We must continue to fight for the fullest, most equal status: full marriage equality.

The breakthroughs in marriage equality around the country that have been springing up just this year are excellent examples.

Ratcheting can be used not just to tear something down, but to build something up. Martin Luther King, Jr's Civil Rights Act passed but only after various states implemented something similar to show that it was possible, and to discover what techniques work.

Ok, that's where this draft ends. The problem that I'm struggling with is that I need better examples of political ratcheting used against us, used by us, and future uses of it. Suggestions?

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without thinking this through solidly, just throwing stuff out there:

laws went from seat belts optional, to seat belts required, to car seats required for infants to now, in many states including NJ, booster seats required until age eight.

I think drunk driving laws were implemented this way, bit by bit.

And I think ratcheting would be a great way to get more hospitals to become Baby Friendly Hospitals --- though there, the announcements have already been made and the bar set quite high.

In parenting, this process is often called shaping. If I can get my six year old to run up and interrupt by saying, "May I interrupt please!" it is slightly better than running up while I'm in the middle of a conversation and starting off by talking to us about whatever is on his mind. And I have hope that he will, in the future, learn to be silent while approaching the conversation, and wait for a natural break to then ask if it's OK to interrupt.

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