Don’t Underestimate the Power of Emotions to Launch Change

Kara Powell | Sep 23, 2013

I love research. My husband’s an engineer who loves spreadsheets. As you might imagine, we talk a lot about data in our family.

As much as I love data, as we describe in our new Sticky Faith Launch Kit, we at the Fuller Youth Institute have found that generally people are more motivated by feelings than findings.

In Switchbrothers Chip and Dan Heath share a vivid story that captures the power of engaging folks’ emotions. Jon Stegner was convinced that his company was wasting money on ineffective purchasing. He wanted to give his company a memorable example of their poor purchasing habits.

So he focused on a single item: Work gloves.

He and his team gathered all the different work gloves used across locations in their company. They found 424 total types of gloves from different suppliers that ranged in price from $5-17. They then displayed all 424 pairs on one table tagged with their prices, and showed this display to the executive leadership.

The executives who walked by the table were speechless. Soon afterward, the company changed their purchasing policies.

Stegner could have created a spreadsheet. Or conjured up a great slide presentation.

But instead, he did a better job engaging folks’ emotions. The pile of gloves before them was undeniable.

As you think about changes you’d like to launch, consider:

1.What emotions would I want to stir in students, families, and our church related to those changes?

2.Without being manipulative, how could I vividly stir those emotions by exposing them to reality?

Kara Powell

Dr. Kara Powell is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI), a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary, and Fuller's Chief of Leadership Formation. Named by Christianity Today as one of “50 Women You Should Know,” Kara serves as a Youth and Family Strategist for Orange, and also speaks regularly at parenting and leadership conferences. Kara is the author or coauthor of a number of books, including Growing Young, Growing With, The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family, Sticky Faith Curriculum, Can I Ask That?, Deep Justice Journeys, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum. Kara lives with her husband Dave and their three children, Nathan, Krista, and Jessica, in Southern California.


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