3 steps to create a movement through your organisation

Ours is a world of teams, tribes and movements. For as long as there have been humans, we have obsessed with the power and potential of the group. Now, more than ever before, smart leaders must know how to harness their own storytelling and tribe building potential to create something meaningful.

In this fireside conversation, Phill Nosworthy unpacks lessons from the greatest movements the world has ever seen.

Conversation notes

  • Identity is built in, through and because of the groups that we are aligned to and that can be problematic.
  • Every time a consumer engages with a brand they see that as something that affirms their identity and something that they ‘find’ themselves in. Now, products and services are just the tip of the iceberg and are part of a bigger conversation about what that brand stands for.
  • Any time a movement is going to happen you are going to need 3 things: A strong leader, an idea, and a group of people who buy into both the leader’s vision and the idea itself.
  • Movements are defined by either the ‘dragon-slaying’ approach (standing against something) or the ‘missionary’ approach (standing for something).
  • The 3 pillars behind creating a movement are reframing an idea, mainlining it, and playing it long.
  • Which brands do you believe fit the criteria of building a movement and why?
  • Which brands have transcended the products they create and represent something more to people. What do they represent?
  • Movements and tribes are built on the actions of individuals because the intentions are all well and good but, as the saying goes, the road to hell is lined with good intentions. Actions are what drive outcomes.


“What we are seeing in the way that people are doing life right now, are the hallmarks of movements that are really obvious. If organisations and their leaders can understand what those hallmarks are they can also design for those hallmarks and make it easier for people to be a part of what it is that they’re building.”


Would you like to know how to make your organisation or brand a platform for change?

In today’s world, people want much more from the organisations they deal with and work for than just products and services. They want to know what the organisations stand for and if they can engage with them and be part of the community that surrounds them. But, how does all this happen?

About the conversation and speaker

Phill Nosworthy is a researcher, keynote speaker, social impact strategist, and Co-Founder of Switch Learning + Development. When he spoke at a Florence Guild event as part of their speaker series, ‘The Antidisciplinary Future’, he said that the organisations that understand how we live and what we want are the ones that are best placed to design with these factors in mind and to make it easier for us to engage with a network of like-minded people.

What is the vision of your organisation?

If you want your organisation to inspire others to gather and to make changes in their world, you need to have a strong, positive core vision that comes through in every way, from the suppliers you chose to deal with to the impacts you have on your immediate and wider environments. For example, the Overflow Coffee Bar in Chicago set out to “inspire a genuine and local community of people who change the world with their purchasing power, time, and talents”. Within 5 years, their café had become a thriving place for people with similar values to meet and develop their ideas.

Global giants like Tesla, Nike, and Apple have also successfully established themselves as social movement leaders in their own unique ways.

What steps do I need to take to start a movement?

Nosworthy believes there are 3 core steps or pillars that are needed to create a successful movement.


Change your conversation from a message for niche groups to an idea that is relevant to the masses. Is your idea duplicable and scalable?


Be prepared to relinquish control to the community. In his article for Forbes How To Transform Your Brand Into A Movement, Greg Satell gave the example of Saul Kaplan’s Business Innovation Factory (BIF), a non-profit organisation set up to transform Rhode Island into an innovation platform. BIF’s agenda revolves around creating opportunities for people to meet and share their ideas in order to spark new ones. They believe the conversations that happen during the breaks at their events are more important than the events themselves.

Play long:

If you truly want to start a long-term powerful movement, you need to look beyond your KPI’s for the next few years. You need to create a framework that allows lots of actions and activities to occur to gradually build up momentum. The key is to find the balance between including too much and not enough detail in your directives. Plan for the future but allow things to evolve naturally.

Leadership is a key element

Nosworthy adds that there is another key element that will determine the success or failure of a movement and that is whether the leader of the organisation acts in ways that support the long-term goal.

“There can’t be a distinction between the message and the messenger. So, if there is a gap between what a leader is doing, living, talking and what the organisation stands for, either they are not going to be the leader of the movement for very long or it will be a weak leadership profile or a weaker movement. The stronger the sense of alignment between the message and the messenger, the more powerful that person becomes the representation of the brand.”

Leaders whose names are synonymous with their brands’ values include people like Elon Musk, Richard Branson and Anita Roddick. Every action they’ve taken for their organisation aligns perfectly with its vision. So, if you want to follow in their footsteps and become an inspirational leader for your organisations’ movement, you need to have a deep understanding of its mission and core values. Then you have to live them, breathe them, walk them, and talk them at every turn.


Phill’s Linkedin:
Phill Nosworthy

Phill’s Website: phillnosworthy.com

Switch L+D Website: switchld.com

Switch L+D Instagram: @switchld

Switch L+D Facebook: @switchld

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This episode forms part of our 2018 series narrative, ‘The Art of Focus’ which is based on the premise that, in an information-dense society, our attention resources have become depleted. The series’ speakers will help us identify and explore the areas in our lives where we may need to regain focus, increase our self-awareness and improve how we interact with those around us.

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