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Build the #EmotionalCase for change à la Greta Thunberg

#NimbleVlog Season 1 Episode 1A few days after the massive climate rally in Montreal (Canada), ORCHANGO’s president & co-founder Edmond Mellina reflects on the success of young Swedish activist Greta Thunberg’s movement. He highlights a key take-away for corporate leaders working on transforming their organizations.


Reading time: less than 4 minutes

I was in Montreal last week when Greta Thunberg, the young Swedish activist, came to lead the big march for climate change. It was at the end of the day, we were packing up after a day of workshops and the march was happening just below us in the street at the bottom of the hotel.

And it was amazing, first because there were a lot of people – half a million I think. But also because you had three generations marching together: kids, parents and grandparents. Which got me to think: what is it that she does, Greta, to be able to create such a strong momentum for change?

So there [are] a few things that she does. First, the timing is right unfortunately. She uses data, her use of Instagram and social media in general is very effective.

But there is something else that Greta does that is a big part of it and it’s also a big reminder for every transformation leader out there. She is able to tap into the power of emotions.

The best example of that was a few days before Montreal actually when she went to New York and made this amazing speech to the United Nations. When you were watching it, it was hard not to feel anything.

On my end I felt two strong emotions. The first one was the same emotion that my kid and his generation is feeling, which is anger. Anger at the mess that the older generation, which is us, created. And the second emotion for me was shame. Shame at the fact that, being from the older generation, well, we contributed to the mess, that’s the reason why the kids are feeling the way they feel, and we are still contributing to it.

So again, going back to Greta and her movement, her ability − in a very authentic way − to tap into this kind of emotions is the reason why so many people from so many generations came down in the streets of downtown Montreal to march with her.

So what does that means for you if you are a transformation leader?

Well, it’s important to explain what you are doing, to build the business case using data, logic. But if you want to create a movement for transformation inside your organization, you need to do what Greta is doing which is tap into the power of emotions.

I call that building an “Emotional Case”. And I always go back when I work with clients or when we run workshops to a very, very good quote from Doctor Donald Calne, a Canadian-British neurologist.

And what he said Doctor Calne, he said the fundamental difference between logic and emotions, is that logic leads to conclusions. Like, yeah, we should be doing that.

Versus emotions, they lead to actions. Like yes, let’s go, we need to do that and the time is right now!

If you are a transformation leader, yes, by all means, do the business case, use data, logic and all that… But you need a momentum going. And for that you need to do the kind of things that Greta is doing, you need to tap into the power of emotions, you need to build a strong Emotional Case.

And Greta is giving us a gift, in addition to everything else she is doing, which is reminder of that.

Headshot Of Edmond Mellina, ORCHANGO's President & Co-Founder

Edmond is ORCHANGO's president & co-founder.

He is internationally respected for his expertise in nimble change leadership and culture change. For the past 30 years, he has been executing strategic transformations, building agile capabilities, and advising clients across sectors in Europe, North America and the Middle East.

He is a former corporate transformation executive in drastically changing industries: CIO at Delta Hotels when Expedia disrupted the hotel business; and VP Corporate Development & General Manager USA for the technology business of Envoy Communication Group when design and marketing agencies started to become digital.

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