The Making of a Movement

When you lead change do you make an announcement or make a movement? When changes are announced, they are easily sidetracked unless they become movements.
A movement isa group of people working together to advance their shared ideas.”
We spent the morning at a client all staff meeting where the leader gave a rousing presentation on their culture movement. What was riveting during the opening session was the stories, the compelling imagery and the connection with the audience as he spoke.
Here are our observations on how to shift a plain old change into a movement:

  1. Capture the Imagination – most changes are explained in dull, boring terms. Here is an example: “Fortune 500 Company on Wednesday announced an executive reorganization that the company says will better position the <insert industry here> for the future. CEO <name here> said in an announcement to staffers that the changes will allow the company to unify processes and unlock “opportunities critical to our future.” How can anyone get excited about that? A movement has a vision bigger than the obstacles that are faced along the way. People who join a movement need to know the why, not just the what and the how. You can’t have a movement if people don’t share the ideas. People don’t get excited by ideas until their imagination is captured.
  2. Value Everyone Always – in a movement, there is a place for everyone. Movements don’t judge people, they are inclusive, open and welcoming.  When explaining the change, break it down so everyone understands what it means and their place in the movement. This morning, the leader made it clear that everyone had a role in the change they were making in their culture. He emphasized how together they were changing not only their organization but the word around them. It was a radically inclusive message.
  3. Focus on a Common Goal – don’t get lost in the activities and actions, stay focused on the common change goal. Remember “the ice bucket challenge?” While you could think of that as a movement because, lots of people got involved, the movement was about the activity of getting doused by a bucket of ice water. Do you remember who sponsored the challenge or why people were subjecting themselves to a freezing cold shower while being videotaped? Movements make change when they remain focused on the goal. The path to reach the goal may be different for everyone because everyone starts in a different place, but as the movement gains momentum, people band together to create the change.

Think about the civil rights movement that Dr. Martin Luther King gave voice and vision. There were countless people who had their imagination captured. They connected with the vision, felt valued and focused on a common goal which changed the course of history in the United States.
To create real, lasting change we believe that movements matter. To change history, start a movement, don’t just make change.

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