To build your “Unstoppable Movement” start with a solid frame

18 Sep 2013, Keegan Johnson

A strong building begins with a solid foundation and frame … and movements are no different. Of course we’re not talking about cement and wood, but if you don’t have a solid frame you will find your movement unravelling at some point along the way.

When we’re talking about “frames” for movements we simply mean how we think about or communicate our most important ideas. We use framing every day, even though we aren’t necessarily conscious of it. The basic idea, is we can communicate or ideas in multiple ways, and the ways we communicate it can affect how others respond. A few quick examples:

  • Is the glass half full or half empty?
  • Do you want 6 or half dozen?

These are obviously trivial examples, but they are easy ways to see we can usually communicate the same idea in entirely different ways.
The best example of framing in movements is the “anti-abortion” movements change to “pro-life”. It may seem trivial, but after the Us Supreme court 1973 decision Roe v. Wade the movment change its name to “pro-life” to draw attention to their point that the issue was about saving lives instead of an issue of restriction a women’s right to control her body. All of a sudden they had a statement that everyone would agree with. If you didn’t have any context and someone asked you if you were pro-life, everyone would say yes. That’s the power of framing. How can you setup you movement so that everyone (or the majority of people) agree with your founding principle(s).

  • Can you change from being against something to being for something?
  • Can you make your issue larger (e.g., tens of thousands of Americans are affected) rather that smaller (one in 15,000 Americans are affected)?
  • Can you control the terminology (e.g., are we talking about the “job creators” or the “1%”)

Why wait until the debate when you can win before beginning simply by controlling the argument. Go check your frame right now.