Whether in society or inside the organization, we have plenty of ‘theories of change’ surprisingly unchallenged. Can we please look at them with a critical eye?
This first insight provides a counter intuitive position, I know. But it goes like this:
Big demonstrations and protests, cause-driven festivals and gatherings and, in the organization, ‘change days’ and similar, are Slow Change. They create peaks of excitement and awareness (good in themselves) and contribute to giving voice and highlighting issues (good again) but they tend to fade after the peak. It’s Slow Change because long term success would require a continuous repetition of ‘activities’, most often impractical and likely to create initiative fatigue in the medium term. Most likely they eventually switch everybody off. Slow Change lacks a fundamental element: battery life. There is no sustainability mechanism in place
Orchestrated, bottom up change, engaging grassroots in a peer-to-peer network, and using a mobilizing platform such as Viral Change™, is Fast Change. It lacks the visibility and the attraction of the big event and the naïve targeting of ‘the world’. Instead this type of Fast Change targets relatively small number of individuals who are highly influential and can multiply their engagement towards a meaningful critical mass that multiplies itself. There is a platform in place that ensure its continuity and sustainability.
Slow is noisy, fast is more silent. Slow consumes all battery life, fast has long term battery life.
In the corporate world we are very good at the Big Activities (off-sites, Change Conferences, Leadership conferences). They are motivating, educating and aligning events, but very often lack a continuity (platform) mechanism. They profess the assumption (mostly unsaid) that an audience enlightened and motivated is ready to go. Naive view of human nature at the very least.
Sadly the life cycle of these Big Events’ enlightenment often ends in the car park back home. Without a ‘Day After Plan’ (that is not a repetition of the event or simply a cascade down of information), this is Slow Change.
But we love these jamborees.