We have been working with a number of organisations recently who are exploring the use of coalitions and movements.  They are seeing the power of movements as a way of fundamentally changing how they engage and drive transformation with their customers, clients and their employees.

Movements are not a new thing

There are many powerful movements from history.  What is new is the speed at which movements are being created, and the profound impacts they are having on all walks of life.

Who would have thought #Occupy would result in demonstrations in 951 cities in 82 countries? That the Ice Bucket challenge would see $100 million raised for charity in just 30 days? That the refugee crisis would result in such an outpouring of humanity, challenging politicians to do more almost overnight?

And it’s not only in the field of social or political reform that movements have been created. 

Procter & Gamble’s #likeagirl championed the cause of pre-pubescent girls, shaming those who used the derogatory phrase.  It also had a hugely positive impact on the Always brand. 

Or Toms shoes, who offer a free pair of shoes to a deprived child whenever you buy a pair. They launched a campaign on their 8th anniversary that offered a free pair of shoes for children whenever someone tweeted their bare feet.  By the time the campaign had finished they had given away almost 300,000 pairs of shoes.

The movement trend is growing in business

This is not only because to become part of, or to create, a movement can enhance your brand, but also because a new generation of employees want to be part of ‘something’ at work, something more than just the job or organisation they are employed by.

Toms shoes movement, for example, started when their employees came in with no shoes on. It started with them.  It gave their employees meaning as much as it did their customers.

This has important implications for leaders today.  We hear much talk of authenticity.  It’s true this is an important trait, and it becomes infinitely more so if you take the brave step to put your name behind a movement. Because movements are real, and often disruptive.

As Seth Godin said, “If you’re not upsetting anyone, you’re not changing the status quo.”

This means leaders must be open, willing to be bold and allow creativity, be less controlling.  When you engage or provoke a movement you must be fully committed, and expect both reaction and challenge.  But if you get it right the rewards are huge.

Being ready to make change happen

Often when we work with leaders on our projects and events they tell us that it is not only what people write down or build that is important, it’s that they are ready to make change happen, to take action. 

Everybody wants to be part of something, something meaningful, something special.  So what do you stand for?  And why would anyone want to be part of your movement?