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Would you stand in the way of a hurricane?

The main reason that companies and governments keep getting their butts kicked by grassroots social movements these days is that they consistently underestimate their strength and fail to understand the deep social forces driving them. If they properly appreciated and understood these factors, they would put aside any idea of fighting them and consider ways to work with them instead.

Thus begins Chapter 2 of my ‘You Can’t Beat Them So Why Not Join Them’ series.

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My conference roadshow kicks off in Paris this year. For these engagements, I am going forward with a direct and uncompromising message to businesses and governments: Stop trying to resist the power of new citizen movements. Better learn to work with them, or else face the music! I’ll start by laying out the topline of my arguments below and a deeper look will follow in subsequent posts.

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I recently published an article in the Guardian Sustainable Business section which spoke to the rising power of the U.S. minimum wage movement, AKA the Fight for 15. Given the movement’s momentum, its savvy use of online and offline communications and successful network building, I predicted that it would gain major concessions from both policy makers and major retail brands. Continue Reading…

How many times have I heard clients dismiss social movements building against them as a mere minority of the population? Answer: The same number of times that these clients were later dumbfounded that this minority had managed to shut down their projects or seriously damage their reputation.

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As we look at the spectacular disruptive power of social movements these past few years, from Occupy Wall Street to the Arab Spring uprisings to citizen movements that blocked major resource projects, there is a temptation to write them off as novelties, edge cases or the beginner’s luck of techno savvy upstarts.

Defense analysts, however, have warned of the rising power of such forces for decades. Already back in ’93, Rand Corporation analysts released “Cyberwar is Coming” which essentially foretold how the networked world, with its growing store of information, links between interest groups and rapidly evolving technological platforms, would come to de-stabilize established power and politics. Continue Reading…