posted 19 Dec 2008 in Volume 12 Issue 4
Thought leader: The six stages of systemic change
By Jay Deragon
At first we don’t see the magnitude of changes resulting from all this ‘social stuff’. We think if we just do better at what we’ve always done, we’ll be OK. Then we realise we have to do something totally different, but we don’t know what. What we will need to do differently is shaped by the elements of change:
Mass collaboration accelerates change faster than previous experience;
Conversations fuel creativity, innovation and new markets;
Technology is the enabler of human interaction that scales beyond previous measures;
Human interaction accelerates learning, knowledge and conversation about both;
Perpetuation of ‘free’ necessitates improved value propositions for economic gains;
Today’s impact is but a ripple compared to the swells of change on the horizon;
Today’s conclusions are not tomorrow’s answer;
Business models and value propositions will have to align with constantly changing market demands;
Markets will be driven by relational attributes rather than advertising and marketing processes;
Search engines will adopt a new criteria driven by subject relevancy and relationships.
These elements – and others – are the driving forces of systemic changes that create disruption in all markets, society in general and fuel a new economy. Some of these elements are creating changes today whilst others will create the changes of tomorrow.
Six stages of change characterise the shift from an old system to one that emphasises interconnectedness, active learning, shared decision-making and higher levels of conversational participation by all participants.
1. Maintenance of the old system
People and businesses focus on maintaining the old system as originally designed. They do not recognise the system is fundamentally out of sync with the conditions of today’s connected world.
Multiple stakeholders become aware the current system is not working as well as it should but they are unclear about what is needed instead. Information about all this ‘techno-social stuff’ begins to creep into the hearts and minds of the stakeholders which fuels possibility thinking.
Individuals and organisations begin to study and apply social tools to their personal or professional needs or wants for improved value creation.
The scales tip towards the new system. A critical number of opinion leaders and groups commit to the new system and take more risks to make changes in crucial places. Adoption of ‘social tools’ begins to spread.
5. Emergence of the new system
The possibilities become the reality and widespread use of the new system begins to attract people’s time, attention and consistent usage.
6. Predominance of the new system
The new system becomes the preferred system and adoption begins to touch all aspects of performance. Learning and knowledge gained becomes the fuel which accelerates the endless recycling of the six stages of change.
The cycle of change is speeding up. Just consider the political, social, cultural and economic waves of change surrounding us today. To prepare for the future and to seize opportunities, one must understand the elements that are driving the changes and the stages of change.
Jay Deragon is chief strategist at Link to Your World. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org