Structuring and Amplifying Change


Structuring change is easy when looking from the outside in.  

Architects, urban planners, concerned citizens, and politicians, among others, can find themselves speculating endlessly about what needs to be done to change a system. 
 
Creating lasting change requires a vision, patience, and time. It also requires a cultural shift from one way of being to another. This work in particular is often easier said than done. Why? People are generally averse to change unless they can see how it benefits them. Small shifts in an organization can take years to effect. But, when there is alignment across a system in support of a new initiative, then change can come much faster.   

This is an insightful and positive article on the need to create an "architecture of government through technology and innovation." The author presents a powerful vision for what could be and offers an approach for how to make it happen. More importantly, it addresses the challenge of culture change. 

Addressing the concerns of current government workers in the system through training and open communication is a positive step, but the real change will come with an influx of new people into the government ecosystem. The new attitudes, new ways of working, and new connections will open people's eyes to what could be. Changing narratives starts with seeing new perspectives. 
 
The more that people can see the big picture and connect the dots for how change is going to take place, then the easier it will be for it to actually happen. Anticipating what comes next is easy when people involved are generally on the same page and moving in the same direction. 
 
The decentralization of decision-making systems is a key aspect of creating faster, more relevant change for people. Give people space to solve their own problems and they will often find solutions that are more effective and useful to the people actually using them. This idea further reinforces the idea that one needs to work with the resources around them in order to create homegrown solutions to local problems. 
 
The unfortunate reality with creating change in organizations is that when the door of opportunity opens, you need to know when to step in or be at risk of being left behind. This will be a challenging time for leaders, constituents, and employees alike. If you are keeping an eye on how the change is occurring or maybe you are resistant to it, you may miss your opportunity to be a part of a movement to make a more effective and useful form of government that does provide more value and service to people. This system is only as effective as people want it to be and the real value will be felt far away from centers of government. 

Understanding what people really need is the key to understanding how to advocate for them.  

Digital tools and processes can help you reach a large group of people very quickly, and assist in quickly analyzing data. Even after a useful sample of data has been gathered, the information can be used in multiple ways. Digital technology is a great way to amplify an organization's efforts to create impact. Just like any other tool. 

The results of any kind of survey involving big data will change shape depending on what question is being asked. This is the real challenge. Ask the wrong question or make an erroneous assumption, and the impacts will be amplified when you try to convert data into action. However, get the question right with data to support your assumptions and you are now in the position to provide feedback and support to your constituents in a way that hasn't been done before in human history. 

The quick rate of return on the information that you provided an organization can now be turned back around as a service that can be provided to a person or group of people. In doing so, a leader and the organization become relevant and useful to an individual because they will feel that they are simply being heard. 

Advocating for citizens and creating change in government can happen from the bottom up or the top down. However, engaged citizens and enlightened leaders working together to co-create the future is the secret to effecting lasting change. Digital tools can serve as the medium to help bring both groups together to create that path forward. 

Getting people to care is at the heart of civic engagement.

Technology and innovation won't get you anywhere if people feel like they aren't being respected. A tired constituency is one that may not even be aware of what the status quo is and your first challenge will be to bring people in from the cold. 

The most successful change efforts start from within at the grassroots level. Enabling people to not only see a problem, define it, and then put together a plan to solve it is the best way to achieve long term success. Top down change that is mandated from above can make people feel even more disconnected, regardless of how well-intentioned one's efforts may be. 

People are able to connect with others in different ways. Some are inclined to keep conversations academic and others will find success, say, in talking strictly about sports. The most successful communicators are able to not only float between multiple unrelated topics, but also to make a point to listen to others. Listening demonstrates respect. 

Technology and digital tools can have the effect of amplifying and projecting your voice and message. But, can it enable listening? Can it get people to listen to you? 

It will be a challenge if you don't have a compelling message as any content marketer knows. When speaking of solving basic human needs, you shouldn't need successful messaging or a clever promotion. A demonstrated need should be enough to mobilize people to take action. 

Establishing a deeper connection with another is grounded in face to face contact. It lets people know that you are real and you are there to help. Working through an interface can be helpful to start the conversation, but at some point this needs to convert to human to human contact in order for a some kind of change to occur. 

Understanding what people truly need starts with creating mutual respect. Otherwise your engagement efforts will be superficial at best. When people see that others are listening and that your efforts are sincere, then they will be more inclined to care about what you are doing--and may just join you to help out.

This guest blog was written by our upcoming guest, Scott Jancy, who is a historian, architect, Naval Officer, consultant and leadership blogger. Scott blogs daily about leadership, design, technology, and business at www.scottjancy.com. Stay tuned for his interview on the HumanCurrent podcast and don't forget to subscribe in iTunes

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