There is a fascinating interview with Chip Heath in the latest Mckinsey Quarterly (free subscription required to access), titled: Making the emotional case for change. Heath’s thesis is that building a rational, analytical case for change is not enough to make change happen. You also have to appeal to people’s emotion. You have to motivate them to want to change.
I’m constantly amazed at how much businesses underestimate the impact of the emotional side of communications. Politics understands it. I dare you to find a politician running a campaign TV commercial that references anything remotely resembling an issue (unless it’s an attack ad). Ditto for sales and marketing. But for some reason, business leaders seem to think that data alone is good enough to make their point. “If I could just show them this graph” or “they need to know the facts.” As Heath explains, that alone is not enough to drive change.
This blog is (primarily) about external green communication, but before you can do that you have to have internal alignment. This article gives some great examples and tips for how to get that internal alignment. Take Heath’s example from GE and how they got their team to start thinking in terms of ecomagination:
CEO Jeff Immelt said, “There’s a broad social trend toward finding more sustainable ways of doing business, and if we can take advantage of that, we will be well-positioned for the future.” GE did a green audit, looking for places where they already had industry-leading green products, and started highlighting those existing products for employees. One was an LED3 lighting system that produces great light with 10 percent of the electricity used by other systems. GE then said, “We’re the kind of people who can succeed in this new business environment that’s more and more focused on sustainability.”
The entire article is worth the read. And once you have that internal alignment, Chip Heath and his brother Dan can help you shape that external story as well just as Chris Jarvis entertainingly points out on 3BL TV.
I’ve read Made to Stick and can’t say enough about the book. It encapsulates everything I tried to do during my brief stint in the advertising agency world. Get the book and read it.
Nathan Schock’s personal blog, http://www.greenwaycommunique.com, is the primary hub for communicating sustainability and bringing people together who do the same.