What Will the World Be Like When Your Idea is Embraced?

Arnoud Franken
3 min readMay 13, 2022

Imagine when people adopt your strategic vision, your diversity & inclusion policy, or your idea for a new and improved product, service, or way of working. What do you see? What does success look like?

How has the world changed now that people are impacted by what you created?

What are the looks on their faces?

How does it make them feel?

Often we don’t ask ourselves these future-oriented questions when we develop and communicate our ideas, strategies, and change initiatives. The same often applies to our team, project or organisation’s purpose.

The reason, is, we are taught and often expected in business to persuade others to change their thinking and behaviour through the quality of our logic and arguments. As a result, we tend to focus on our solution and the benefits of its features.

Biologically, however, we are feeling creatures that think, not thinking creatures that feel. By focusing on what we (want to) make, rather than what we want to make happen for others, we appeal to people’s logic, ignore their emotions and the beliefs that drive their actions, and thus reduce our chances of success.

Even when we do focus on what we want to make happen, we tend think about the future in abstract terms. The reason is, unlike a past experience that we can vividly recall and relive, we haven’t yet experienced the future and, therefore, we haven’t been provided the sensory information to make the future tangible. Out of convenience, i.e. low effort, we think about the future in general, high level terms and use the inherent vagueness to keep our options open.

However, when we communicate our ideas in high level terms, our audience doesn’t use the part of the brain we used for abstract meaning making. They use their brain’s experience-based cognitive system: they want to imagine what you’re communicating and be able to relate to it. The vagueness that comes with high level statements, however, doesn’t enable that.

Compare, for example, “let’s go on holiday” with “let’s go to Amsterdam for a weekend and do a canal tour”. We all understand the concept of holiday, but when we’re not told where we’re going and our questions about it are not clearly answered, it becomes frustrating and we may disengage. Or, and this is a big risk, they fill in the gaps with their own ideas, which may not align with yours. That creates the conditions for disappointment and conflict down the line.

Your audience responds to your abstract and unclear appeals to their attention in the same way. Abstractions do not simulate the world in graphic terms, do not show how a pain is relieved or an aspirations is realised, and are not relatable. As they don’t appeal to our emotions, they are not motivating, which means people will ignore your pitch or communication instantly if they can. If they can’t, they’ll put up resistance to not have to burn calories to understand what you might actually mean.

To inspire people to embrace your idea wholeheartedly and create a better world, you need to make your vision literally visionary. To do that, you need to mentally time travel forward in time, imagine stepping out of your time machine, and observe life in this better world. See how life is different for your audience as a result of embracing your idea. Watch how people behave, think, and relate differently. Observe how it makes them feel to not experience their pain anymore or to have realised their aspiration.

Take that vivid mental experience back with you to today and communicate that story to your audience. Show, don’t tell, what they can become. The more visually concrete the language you use is, the more emotionally appealing it will be, and the more it will inspire people to change and make it happen.

Happy time travelling and make hearts sing with your idea!



Arnoud Franken

Helping leaders to accelerate meaningful change | Senior Consultant, Strategic Change Leadership | Professor | Keynote Speaker