For the last few years, I’ve gotten very curious about how movements happen.
A ‘movement’ is defined as “a widespread change that a group of people working together to advance their shared political, social, or artistic ideas.”
Movements aren’t easy, but we’ve started to see more of them. The Women’s March on Washington, for one.
Unlike the orchestration of top-down change, movements are organic. The change might seem insurmountable at first, but is capable of rallying people to take a stand. They often take courage, are grass-roots, and are one of the most powerful examples of human connection.
People come together and give the best of themselves for something they believe is unjust…and they just won’t take it anymore.
On the week anniversary of the school shooting in Parkland, I’m inspired by the group of students who are insisting something this horrific will not happen again. A colleague’s daughter shared her experience and the #NeverAgain movement on Canadian television station, CBC.
It made me think…I call myself a change management practitioner.
How might change agents around the world bring our knowledge and skill to the movement forming in my own community?
A movement that will save lives one day?
Well, here’s a start. To Nikki and the group of courageous students who will right-size the Second Amendment, here’s what I know about making a movement happen.
The quotes below are from The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
- “Movements don’t emerge because everyone suddenly decides to face the same direction at once. They rely on social patterns that begin as the habits of friendship, grow through the habits of communities, and are sustained by new habits that change participants’ sense of self.”
- [In reference to the Montgomery bus boycott that catalyzed the Civil Rights Movement]: “Much like Alcoholics Anonymous—which draws power from group meetings where addicts learn new habits and start to believe by watching others demonstrate their faith—so Montgomery’s citizens learned in mass meetings new behaviors that expanded the movement. ‘People went to see how other people were handling it,” said Branch. “You start to see yourself as part of a vast social enterprise, and after a while, you really believe you are.'”
- “But when the strong ties of friendship and the weak ties of peer pressure merge, they create incredible momentum. That’s when widespread social change can begin.”
- “The habits of peer pressure, however, have something in common. They often spread through weak ties. And they gain their authority through communal expectations.”
In one of the most entertaining TED Talks to grace the TED stage:
Both Duhigg and Sivers share research that indicates movements take strong will and patience. Sometimes they don’t go as fast as we want them to, but it doesn’t mean they won’t happen.
Building to the tipping point has everything to do with perseverance and belief that we can no longer tolerate the status quo.
It takes knowing that events like those at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas are unacceptable. #NeverAgain.