A Movement not a Moment


I was listening to a speaker at a conference and what they said struck with me. He said,” We wanted to create a movement not a moment.” He was talking about the HEforSHE movement. It left me thinking about how to start a movement. You see a movement is sustained by the overarching belief that brought people together in a moment . This is best exemplified by the MeToo movement.


Theory of Movements


Why you may ask was I interested in movements? This is the most efficient way to make ideas spread. What the internet did was put people in silos instead of the intended homogenization. People now congregate in tribes. One person can be in several tribes at any one time.

Pirates have eye patches and their own flags- you can tell which tribe they belong to. “Its tribes that can change our world, that change politics and align large numbers of people because they wanted to connect”, says Seth Godin.


I found out from research, that if I wanted to start a movement, all I had to do was:

  • Find something worth changing that is bigger than ourselves

  • Tell a story

  • Connect a tribe of people who want that thing to change

  • Lead a movement

  • Make change

The tribe spreads the idea to their individual tribes such that it becomes something bigger: A MOVEMENT


Practical Movement


It is easy to research how movements start. But like any good theory, there has to be a proof of concept. I happened upon the start of a mini movement. It was a cleaning movement. Specifically, a desire to clean our staff kitchenette by ridding its counters of dirty mugs and cups. On the kitchen wall, the was a POLITE poster with the words: "Your fairy God mother is not going to clean after you"…...


Somebody observed that the POLITE poster was not working, so they made a different poster, an offensive poster. It read” KEEP THIS AREA CLEAN.YOUR MOTHER IS NOT HERE TO CLEAN AFTER YOU. CLEAN YOUR MUGS, PLATES AND CUTLERY AND DON'T LEAVE IT TO SOMEONE ELSE TO SORT. The last sentence was in red and capital letters.


I call what happened next the sticky note movement. Literally.

Someone offended by the wording, left a sticky note saying,” It is offensive to think that only mothers clean what about fathers?”

The owner of the poster replied in a sticky note,” Your polite poster was ignored hence the need for stronger language”

Another sticky note was left saying,”This place is worse than a pigsty".

Soon another sticky note appeared with the drawing of a pig saying this is an affront to pigs”.


This was an effective mini movement. The kitchen area has been clean for the last month.


Any effective movement should answer the following questions:

Who are you offending? Everyone who was leaving dirty utensils on the counters.By changing the status quo you will inevitably offend someone

Who are you connecting: Those people who shared the desire to see a clean kitchen

Who are you leading: Those that share that idea and refining it with a story

In the example, the author of the POSTER was the leader, the poster articulated the purpose of the movement

And we saw change.

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