From Little Things … BIG things grow

Posted by  admin —April 19, 2008
Filed in How Stuff Spreads & Changes, Uncategorized

I just watched a channel 10 news story on the Rudd Labour government 2020 Summit. 1000 people have been invited to have a 2 day conversation on 10 key policy areas (NOTE: all areas are ‘complex’ like climate change). Great initiative AND government should be doing more of this stuff!

Apparently, each of the 10 groups need to present 1 BIG IDEA by the end of tomorrow. That 1 big idea-thing AND the complex nature of each group topic made me think … “I hope they consider implementing lots of the little ideas too!” Why …

** I listened to this podcast with Johnnie Moore, Mark Earls, Hugh McLeod and Pinnie (The Rabbi). Apart from being a rollicking good conversation, they all agree that change is ‘random’. There is no ‘lever’ that any consultant/organisation can pull to create change, particularly when complex systems (eg. human behaviour) are at play.

They then point to many recent stories of successful companies who appear to be re shaping the way ‘product marketing’ works. At the core of these stories are NOT BIG ideas! Rather, lots of little ideas … some of which gain ‘traction’ and some of which make the consumer/participant ‘happy’. Hugh delightfully coins these 2 things, ‘Random Acts of Traction’ and ‘Random Acts of Happiness”. When its complex we throw lots of little mud pies (strategies) against the wall … step back and watch, NOTICE which ones stick … support these ‘random acts of traction’ … learn from the mistakes/stuff that didn’t work and be inquisitive (not defensive) and say “How fascinating!”

** I have been reading stuff about complexity (eg. Cynefin Model) of late and reflecting on 6 years of designing/staging behaviour change projects. A few things stick out for me. One, is the need to let go of any control of outcomes because change is so random. Another is that ‘best practice’ doesn’t exist. Another is that behaviour-change projects are almost impossible to ‘transfer’ to another place/community/context.

In the case of projects that aim to change the behaviour of households and reduce impacts on climate change, save electricity/gas etc. It is quite clear that we don’t have a ‘best practice’ LEVER to pull and hey-presto – Success Happens! From research in other communities, we know about lots of little strategies, approaches and ideas that make success more likely. Doug McKenzie-Mohr and my good friend Les Robinson have much to offer us here.



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