I started researching change a few years ago when I realised that the enlightened notion of ‘teach a man to fish’ thing didn’t actually work in practice when there has been prolonged difficulty or poverty or challenge; because, where social impact is involved it requires a change of attitude or behaviour or both for real change to take place, otherwise it’s just a slightly better version of the giving someone a fish.
It turns out, and it’s common sense really when you think about it, that the human default state is change resistant. Funny, considering that everything in life is in constant change and change is something we deal with on every level all of our lives right down to biochemistry and time!
The popular belief is that to make change happen positive incentives work best – and this might be the case in ‘non challenging environments’ but in challenging environments, motivational speeches, rewards, carrots, incentives, enjoyment – might all sound like they should work, but they don’t.
Where change is hard it only happens when ‘changing’ is less painful than ‘not changing’.
I think this has some application to learning design, social change and NGO’s, especially where system, culture, behaviour or attiude change are an end goal – without some stress in the system – what you’ll get is acknowledgment of the necessity to change rather than actual change.