Build Societal Momentum for Your Cause

You have a great idea.  Likely, it is reflected in a question like “Why don’t people do (something)?”  Examples of a “something” include “improve pre-college education,” “fix potholes in the roads,” “build an effective on-line community to …,” or “produce technology-based products that are truly useful, easy-to-use, and trouble-free.”

How can you build momentum and achieve your great idea?  Talk about your great agenda.  Enthuse people to form effective coalitions.  Help those coalitions support each other and your agenda.  A lack regarding any one of these types of activity can be a problem.

  • Inadequate talk about the agenda?  People will do whatever else they would have done.
  • Ineffective or no coalitions?  You are on your own to try to implement your idea.
  • Inadequate support?  There may be commotion, but likely there is little forward motion.

Use 7 elements to spark progress.  Apply these elements to yourself.  Apply them to Individuals or coalitions you think might join your cause.  Be realistic about less-than-adequate success.

  1. Gather people, organizations, funds, facilities, and so forth.  Otherwise, face a “do it yourself” endeavor.
  2. Help people and other resources work together.  Otherwise, prepare to “herd cats.”
  3. Tell people about your idea.  Help them understand their opportunities.  Otherwise, prepare for a “cold shoulder.”
  4. Help people decide “how much” and “how” to get involved.  If needed, help them design processes to weigh your opportunity against other opportunities.  Be helpful, not manipulative.  Otherwise, prepare to “walk alone.”
  5. Help people do their chosen “how to get involved.”  Otherwise, prepare for possible frustration.
  6. Help people celebrate accomplishments.  Otherwise, waste opportunities for people to appreciate the impact they create.
  7. Help people reuse – and follow on from – what they have done and learned.  Otherwise, squander some of the full potential of your idea.

Barriers to success are easy to spot.  For example, it often takes years or decades for new technologies to take root.  (Think of videoconferencing; voice recognition; document libraries; or even personal computing, e-mail, or the Internet.)  Often, technology developers downplay many of the 7 elements.  “If we build it, someone will buy it.”  Typical failures include the following.

  • Step 3 – The usual: “Let me tell about the great widget I’ve created.”  Better: “Let’s discuss how you do things and how my widget can help you be more effective.”
  • Step 4 – The usual: “Of course, people will buy it.”  Better: “People think they are not used to buying things like this.  Let me suggest a trustworthy, convenient process for you to make your decision.”
  • Step 5 – The usual: “How could someone not just start using this?”  Better: “Here are some activities you likely do.  And, for each activity, here’s how to use the widget to do the activity more successfully.”

In general, the 3 momentum building activities and 7 elements illustrate opportunities to use simple thinking tools, think well, and do great.  Examples of thinking tools (from which the 3 activities and 7 elements are derived) include “GIST – Gain Impact. Save Time.”  (Tom’s books)

Click for information about Thomas J. Buckholtz or his books.


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