There comes a point in any successful change movement when a great truth dawns on those involved: The inevitability and wisdom of the ongoing change is finally understood, and the new reality accepted. And what typically evokes this realization? Not hard data, nor a new process, nor an edict from above.
What best crystallizes and reinforces change is powerful imagery that appeals to the primal emotions within human nature. Consider some of the great changes in history, and the images associated with these events: American colonists dumping tea into Boston Harbor. Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat on a bus. Neil Armstrong’s stroll on the moon. The fall of the Berlin Wall.
None of these scenarios added significant new information to the respective cases for war with England, equal rights under the law, the necessity of exploring space, or the end of the Cold War. But the images spoke to popular emotions with a power that reasoned debate can rarely evoke.
It’s accepted in politics, entertainment, government, the media, and industries like advertising that appealing to people’s emotions is essential to getting them to change behaviors. But business executives preparing their organizations for fundamental change generally struggle with accurately factoring human nature into the change equation.