If you write the word movement on Google it will tell you that one of it’s meaning is “a group of people working together to advance their shared political, social, or artistic ideas”. A movement can start when a group of people share the same concern or cause and start working together to fight for what they believe. In this process, more people join the group and if that group reaches a big number, it gets a lot of attention and creates a big buzz. This type of movement can be very effective and change history, like the Civil Rights Movement that still influences today’s societies.
But this is not the only type of movement that exists. Small movements can also be very impactful. To learn more about movements I read John Hagel’s article called Making a Movement: Narratives and Creation Spaces, where he talks about how the combination of a meaningful narrative and a creation space can be best way to make a movement.
Hagel believes these are the two solid pillars to create a movement nowadays because narratives are open-ended, they require an action and can work as a catalyst, and creation spaces are an effective way to accelerate learnings and create meaningful connections — always in a small group.
This formula that Hagel suggests can be very useful, specially in the Information Era, where the Internet plays a central role in movements. It can either help a movement escalate quickly and reach millions of people or help small groups from different locations that have the same objectives connect. It all depends on the type of movement that is being made and it’s intent. Social Media can be a powerful tool to help a movement evolve to a larger scale, but that can also make it lose its strength if the audience gets too scattered. On the other hand, although a smaller group of like-minded people can achieve a higher level of impact, how big can that impact be?
Movements can also be created based on storytelling. Many brands have tried to start movements by telling a compelling story that resonates with people or by supporting an already existing story to add empathy to the movement. Take Dove as an example. They started a Self-esteem Movement by encouraging women to accept their body as it is and feel good about themselves. Dove wants the beauty of women to be a source of confidence. Not only that, they also encourage mothers to start appreciating their bodies so their daughters learn to do the same. This is a good example of a strong narrative used to start a movement, but in order for this movement to have an effect in women’s life it needs creation spaces where the conversation will continue and new groups around the world will start their own movements to fight society’s stereotypes.
The Self-esteem Movement can be seen as an ecosystem that was created by Dove and if other groups of women start gathering to tackle the same issue they will create organisms that will empower the movement. Most importantly, it will start changing how people think.
People who create movements are change makers. No matter the size of the movement, it’s crucial that it has a strong identity and a clear goal so that everyone who decides to join will share the same values and give consistency to it. I tend to agree with Hagel when he says that a creation space that is built with a strong narrative can have a powerful impact. Small groups can create change and a movement will always have an impact as long as we never stop fighting for what we believe.