The Iran freedom movement coalition should take a page from the tech world

Ario Jafarzadeh
5 min readJan 14


Suggested actions and approaches to help free Iran faster

As executions of innocent protesters in Iran continue with no sign of stopping, it’s time for those seeking a free Iran to become far more coordinated in their efforts.

The movement doesn’t want a single leader to emerge and lead the way. Instead, an innovative coalition strategy is taking shape where a small group of knowledgeable people from various backgrounds, both men and women with large follower bases, have come together to help demonstrate a viable leadership body exists to advise and help see through a situation where free elections can occur in Iran.

While many incredible individuals have made an impact and helped bring the movement to where it is today, this coalition can help 100x effectiveness by providing guidance and leadership to all those who want to see a free Iran sooner than later. A common statement voiced by Iranians in Iran on call-in shows is that they’re waiting to take to the streets en masse until told to do so by a prominent leader. Since no one wants that responsibility, what we need is for the coalition to get organized and speak with one voice to the world.

As someone who’s worked on complex projects in tech for 20+ years, I know a few things about creating alignment and coordinating efforts. While I’ve never facilitated something as daunting as establishing a secular democracy in a country with a 44-year history of barbarism, what follows are actions that I think would help boost the movement’s impact...

  1. Show more solidarity: Many coalition member meetings will need to happen in secret, but seeing leaders in the movement together and showing evidence that they are coordinating behind the scenes, gives hope to Iranians that this group is on its way to taking shape.
Nazanin Boniadi, Masin Alinejad, and Samira Mohyeddin

2. Run an intensive working session: Many decisions will need to be made by this coalition in order to make impact. It will be easy for such opinionated people with different perspectives to rathole, leading to wasted time, hurt feelings, and unnecessary discord. Inspired by the Google Design Sprint process and Startup Weekend, the coalition should get together for a moderated decision-making workshop. Both sprints and SW utilize proven frameworks for driving alignment and then creating something tangible in a short period of time. As examples, techniques like Roman voting and kanban boards can be used to quickly queue up decisions, make decisions, table items for additional research, while also adhering to the idea of disagree and commit (as a way to obtain the greater goal). An incredible amount of progress can made in a short period of time with a skilled moderator employing these approaches and helping move decision-making along.

3. Pick a name: Ideas need names to grow and gain widespread adoption. One of the first things the coalition should do is chose a clear and concise name for themselves in English. Something like “The Free Iran Coalition,” would suffice.

4. Assemble an experienced execution team: These diverse folks should be made up of influencers/content creators, programmers, designers, and at least one manager/coordinator to make sure everything happens in the right order and on time. The execution team would be responsible for the items that follow.

5. Create branding and comms guidelines: With the name and initial team in place, the organization should create a logo and have alignment on do’s and don’ts as it relates to key language and talking points (i.e. establishing a tight list of common goals and verbiage on common topics that trip up collaboration like JCPOA, sanctions, etc).

6. Create a web presence: Using the coalition’s new name, visual identity, and comms guidelines, create a site where prominent leaders of the coalition are listed, along with links to their socials. The site should include an email newsletter sign-up where people who can’t follow Instagram/Twitter in real-time can get updates on the latest events along with easy actions for supporters to take. All of the coalition's official social media channels should be linked from the site for convenience and to serve as a single source of truth to help distinguish copycat accounts. The site needn’t be fancy, especially for the v1, although there are incredible graphic and web designers in the diaspora who I’m sure would help to set this up.

7. Mobilize followers: Now that the coalition has a megaphone, use it. Leaders and internal staff/volunteers should meet regularly and coordinate recommended actions for Iranians inside and outside of Iran (i.e. calendar of upcoming events/protests, links to email templates for contacting representatives, etc). The internal team should ideally include someone that’s worked in a distributed team that utilizes best practices around asynchronous communication in order to facilitate the ongoing collaboration needed to maintain a pipeline of actions from week to week.

8. Fundraise: After setting up the proper legal entities in the US, Canada, and EU, the coalition should provide a trustworthy way for people to donate to help pay staff, legal fees, and web hosting costs. The utmost transparency should be provided around all fund-raising efforts. Any excess proceeds should be funneled into other organizations that are helping efforts for freedom in Iran.

9. Collect feedback and iterate: No organization gets it right 100% of the time. The coalition should prioritize speed and bias for action over perfect plans and wording. The site and social media channels should all serve as a feedback funnel where ideas and criticisms can get summarized and brought to coalition leaders for consideration and subsequent action.

10. Protect the group’s integrity: While the suggestions above have proven useful in Silicon Valley, a revolution is not the same as starting a new business. Many lives are at stake and a whole other level of privacy and security will be necessary to avoid leaks and group infilitration. Experts in such matters should be consulted early on in this process to ensure the right tools, protocols, and processes are used to vet new people and maintain the integrity of the collaboration.

Efforts to bring about change on this scale constitute a truly herculean undertaking. Utilizing the best aspects of tech collaboration will help get us to that beautiful day much sooner when we can all set foot in a free Iran.



Ario Jafarzadeh