How Change Happens

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An overview of how change works, and what can be done to accelerate transformational change in an industry. Created for the Openlab Workshop, December 1-2, 2015 in Washington, DC.

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How Change Happens

  1. How Change Happens The Openlab Change Model Openlab Workshop http://openlabworkshop.wikispaces.com Washington, DC. December 1-2, 2015 Michael Peter Edson @mpedson CLIR/Open Knowledge
  2. Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums (GLAMs) have some of the most important missions in society * Put the tools of knowledge creation into more hands Share the joy and meaning of artistic and cultural exploration Deepen engagement with the challenges that face our species * These slides apply to all cultural/memory/knowledge institutions - - and many other kinds of organizations as well
  3. And technology provides them with new opportunities to dramatically increase the scale and impact their work…
  4. …But change is hard, and GLAMs struggle to recognize and exploit these opportunities.
  5. Some institutions struggle to experiment and begin the process of digital engagement.
  6. Others struggle to innovate and begin the process of digital transformation.
  7. And others struggle to sustain innovation and deepen the impact of their programs.
  8. Everyone struggles with disruption and change.
  9. We’re often told that change takes time, and that things will be different a little farther down the road. But how much farther? Can we do something now to make change happen faster?
  10. It’s difficult to predict what will drive change in an industry—or even in a single office— but some patterns seem clear.
  11. Pattern #1: Change flows Pattern #2: Top-down and bottom-up Pattern #3: Labs are an under-utilized resource Pattern #4: Think big, start small, move fast Pattern #5: Use the power of conveners The Openlab Change Model
  12. Pattern #1: Change flows Change doesn’t happen at the same time across an entire industry, it flows across the landscape from organization to organization.
  13. New ideas can come from anywhere.
  14. And new ideas take root and grow when organizations can see them, understand them, and take action on them.  We’ve heard about this.  We understand this.  We can do this.  We can test this.  We can adapt this.  We can see the effects of this.  We have a sense of urgency.
  15. Innovative organizations are prepared to see, understand, and act upon new ideas quickly, without a lot of outside help.  We’ve heard about this.  We understand this.  We can do this.  We can test this.  We can adapt this.  We can see the effects of this.  We have a sense of urgency.
  16.  We’ve heard about this.  We understand this.  We can do this.  We can test this.  We can adapt this.  We can see the effects of this.  We have a sense of urgency. They can see, understand, and act because they have these capabilities.
  17. Early adopters are influenced by the successes and failures of the innovators. Early adopters need time to gain confidence and develop the skill and resources to act.  We’ve heard about this.  We understand this.  We can do this. • We can test this. • We can adapt this.  We can see the effects of this. • We have a sense of urgency.
  18. Early majority organizations follow the early adopters. They need even more time, support, and resources before they will take action.  We’ve heard about this. • We understand this.  We can do this. • We can test this. • We can adapt this. • We can see the effects of this.  We have a sense of urgency.
  19. Once you get the innovators, early adopters, and early majority on board you’ve got critical mass, and change across an entire industry is possible.
  20. This is called an innovation adoption curve… C H A N G E
  21. This is called an innovation adoption curve… And it’s a well studied phenomenon. C H A N G E
  22. It’s not perfect, but it seems to explain GLAMs (and a lot of other industries) pretty well. C H A N G E
  23. Each group differs in its ability to see, understand, and act upon new ideas. • Social connections with colleagues—We’ve heard about this • In-house knowledge and resources—We understand this and can do it • Idea fits with needs & systems—We can adapt this to our needs • Idea is conducive to prototyping—We can test this and see the results • A sense of urgency—this is perhaps the most critical factor!
  24. It’s important to work across the entire spectrum to prepare each group for the arrival of new ideas according to their needs and abilities. C H A N G E Develop social connections with colleagues | Build in-house knowledge and capacity Foster a sense of urgency
  25. This is not about the size of an organization. It’s about the organization’s readiness to see, understand, and act upon ideas in their own context.
  26. To accelerate change using this model, first figure out how far an idea has moved across the curve from left to right.
  27. Then work to help the next cohort of organizations build the awareness, capacity, and sense of urgency necessary to put the idea into action.
  28. Sometimes this area is called the chasm because it’s notoriously difficult to get new ideas seen, understood, and acted upon by the early majority…
  29. But once you cross the chasm you’ve got half of all organizations on board and ongoing adoption is more likely.
  30. Recommendation Use the innovation adoption model to invest resources where they’ll have the greatest impact. Increase everyone’s ability to see, understand, and act upon new ideas that are meaningful to their mission, context, and capacity. Focus energy on driving change across the landscape.
  31. Pattern #2: Top-down and bottom-up
  32. Change is easier when the people at the top are leading it.
  33. But in this day-and-age it’s not enough to just lead from the top: leaders and innovators are everywhere.
  34. Many visionaries and change makers are mid-career managers and practitioners: it’s easy for them to become isolated in small organizations, or lost within large ones.
  35. Often, the best people are among our ‘audience’— people who work outside our institutions, volunteering their time and expertise for the greater good.
  36. And many smart creatives* are trapped at the bottom of organizations, with no recognition, visibility, or resources. * A term used by Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg in How Google Works (2015)
  37. Even directors and their boards need support.
  38. To drive change across an industry, individuals at all levels need to be recognized, trained, and empowered to lead.
  39. Recommendation To drive change, focus attention on the top (including board and donors), and middle, and bottom of organizations, as well as non-staff participants. At each level, consistently recognize and celebrate the kinds of behaviors and outcomes you want to see more of. Spread news of success, and pattern the behavior of top performers, whoever and wherever they are. Train and communicate relentlessly at all levels, in small groups and at scale.
  40. Pattern #3: Labs are an under-utilized resource
  41. There are over 70 “labs” in the cultural industries.
  42. These labs are vital, creative, and innovative, but they tend to work in isolation.
  43. …And this undermines our ability to solve big problems and spread new ideas.
  44. In addition, the cutting edge work of labs is not always useful to the small and mid-sized institutions that serve millions of communities.
  45. Recommendation Bring labs together to network and collaborate on shared goals. Establish annual challenge/stretch goals for the network of labs. Establish lab programs that directly serve the needs of small and mid-sized organizations— and raise the bar for established innovators.
  46. Pattern #4: Think big, start small, move fast
  47. Big goals are important. Society needs us to be successful, at scale. But how do big things get done?
  48. Big things are rarely achieved in one giant step, but small, incremental steps don’t necessarily add up to big results either.
  49. …And while patience is a virtue and some things do take time, much of our work is overly cautious, tentative, and slow.
  50. Sometimes big goals are easier to accomplish than small ones. Big goals force you to re-think what is possible, and big thinking attracts the kinds of communities you need to succeed.
  51. “Work on stuff that matters,” said Tim O’Reilly. Do that, but do it now… http://radar.oreilly.com/2009/01/work-on-stuff-that-matters-fir.html
  52. Break big goals into small, manageable pieces. Short- term, achievable goals aligned towards a big vision create a sense of urgency and accelerate learning.
  53. But beware of incrementalism—small steps that feel like progress, but don’t add up to something bigger.
  54. Speed—speed of decision making, speed of execution, speed of learning—is critical.
  55. Recommendation “Work on stuff that matters.” Break large, ambitious goals into smaller sub-projects, and execute them with speed. Beware of incrementalism. More on Think big, start small, move fast http://www.slideshare.net/edsonm/think-big-start-small-move-fast
  56. Pattern #5: Use the power of conveners
  57. What should we work on? What’s important? What is even possible?
  58. Conveners—organizations and individuals who bring people together around certain ideas—have a lot of power to set the agenda and drive change.
  59. But many established conveners are tied down with preexisting relationships, business models, and constituents that are wary of change.
  60. New conveners are always emerging, but many struggle to reach established audiences at scale.
  61. New kinds of conveners are needed who have the authority and reach of established organizations, and the freedom and agility necessary to experiment and drive change.
  62. Recommendation Build on the convening power and authority of established organizations. Create new workgroups far enough inside established organizations to have reach and legitimacy, but far enough outside to have operational autonomy and the freedom to experiment. Use the power of conveners to set an agenda and support change over the long term.
  63. Pattern #1: Change flows Pattern #2: Top-down and bottom-up Pattern #3: Labs are an under-utilized resource Pattern #4: Think big, start small, move fast Pattern #5: Use the power of conveners The Openlab Change Model
  64. Thank you! Some pictograms © Khoon Lay Gan, via: http://www.123rf.com/profile_leremy (others are remix/mashup by @mpedson) The Openlab Workshop: http://openlabworkshop.wikispaces.com @mpedson

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