Independent Thinking Blog

The Secret to Mobilizing Everyone

I’ve always been fascinated by people-powered movements. (Heck, I even took on class on them in graduate school.) That point where people decide they’re done sitting by. They’ve had enough. They break through the fear barrier. Or the paralysis barrier. Or just the fed-up barrier.

Lately there’s been a groundswell of these, from India’s anti-corruption movement (terrific article here on what U.S. businesses can take from that) to the Arab Awakening to the Occupy Wall Street movement springing up across the United States. The last is driving the media crazy, because they can’t figure out how to condense it into a soundbite. As a communications strategist, I’m usually the first person to talk about “messaging.” Having a clear story to tell.

But messages can be messy–and maybe we need more often to allow context to seep in.

Journalist Chris Hedges, who’s covered his share of people-powered movements over the years, said the other day that:

The whole non-hierarchical structure [of Occupy Wall Street] is really brilliant… They can’t destroy [a] movement like that. The fact that you rotate people through positions of leadership. The fact that you’re completely transparent.”


Whatever your politics, there’s some good food for thought in here about both leadership and how we tell our stories.

Photo by Justin Cozart (Flickr).

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