Change Management Lessons from Al Gore

by Erin McCune on July 8, 2006

in Caught My Eye, Change Management

I just saw An Inconvenient Truth, the documentary featuring Al Gore and his global warming crusade. I recommend the film – regardless of your feelings about Al Gore, the message is impactful and important.

Al Gore's campaign against global warming demonstrates some key Change Management tactics:

  • Communicate  Al Gore estimates he has given his climate
    change presentation 1000+ times.  He speaks across the United States
    and around the world. He constantly refines his message – adding
    information as studies are released, tweaking his phrasing and story to
    increase his impact.
  • Emotional Appeal Gore is obviously well informed and
    passionate about this topic — and is therefore a very compelling a
    speaker. He connects emotionally with the audience and it's this
    connection that opens the door for change. His message is laden with
    details that touch on universal human experience and link climate
    change to each audience member's day to day life (and the lives of their
    children and grandchildren).
  • Quantify the Benefits  (Or, in this case, the dangers of
    inaction.) Behavioral change is driven by a complex blend of emotional
    and rational motivations. Emotions capture our attention, but data
    drives decisions. Gore's presentation is impactful because it conveys
    complex scientific concepts in a way that laypersons can easily
    comprehend. Viewers leave the film convinced that Global Warming is real
    and urgent.
  • Acknowledge the Naysayers Successful change agents anticipate and acknowledge the objections raised by their opponents. In the film, Al Gore refutes the claims of climate change opponents, offering research and statistics that support his case.
  • A Call to Action  The movie credits are interspersed with
    specific actions that viewers can take in order to combat climate
    change. Viewers are encouraged to contact their congressional
    representative, use public transportation, and reduce energy usage at
    home and at work. The movie website suggests 10 Simple things to do to stop global warming (follow the link to download the one page PDF).
  • Persistence & Patience  Change does not happen overnight. Major change initiatives are made up of small, incremental steps. Al Gore has been pursuing this crusade for over thirty years.

More information on the movie:

Plus, here is a great article from Fast Company on why it is so hard to change people's behavior.

Change or Die
By Alan Duetschman
Fast Company
May 2005

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