Conducive for changing

Have you ever worked for a small start-up that changed every day as it attracted new customers and hired on new staff? Can you contrast that with big organizations that defies needed changes? Have you ever dated someone that often changed to make you happy and then one day decided to stop accommodating you? Have you ever changed your own conduct with ease when you were mentored by someone who really cared about you? Have you also become stuck in your ways when told in some training class or policy memo that "you have to change or face the consequences"?

The differences between changing easily and no changes can be explained by the atmosphere created. It depends on the people with power and influence, what they are doing and where they are coming from. The atmosphere can be conducive for changing or make desired changes almost impossible. Change the atmosphere, and the desired changes will fall into place more easily.

The atmosphere around creatives, artists and inventors is very conducive for changing. Their playing with options, solutions and scenarios supports the consideration of a change. Thinking outside the box and asking what-if questions makes it easier to go out on the skinny branches.

The atmosphere around prosecutors, spies and vigilantes works against changing. People are put on the defensive and guarded against costly exposure. Thinking about penalties, retribution or termination extinguishes the necessary optimism for changing.

Experimenters, explorers and pilot programs create a supportive atmosphere for changing. Finding out what works, trying different approaches and discovering unforeseen alternatives -- nurtures others' personal exploration of their proposed change.

Manufacturers, distributors and protectors of industries eviscerate the possibilities of changing. Too much is already a given, "business as usual" and a "cost of doing business" to seriously explore alternatives. "If it's not broken, don't fix it" overrules changing.

Subjective interpretations, playful metaphors and post modern critiques encourage changing. The rampant valuing of diversity and cultural expressions creates an atmosphere conducive for breaking out of the mold.

Objective measures, scientific analyses and normative evaluations undermine desired changes. The mood created by one right answer, by-the-book interpretations and "bad mistakes" makes changing appear foolhardy.

Empathy, diplomatic efforts and shows of concern create conducive atmospheres. The sensitivity to other agendas, outlooks and constraints opens the dialogue about a desired change.

Battles, arguments and attacks on other's positions weakens the chances for changing. Under siege, we naturally dig in our heels, antagonize our opponents and defy their pressures to change us.

When thinking about getting teachers to adopt technologies in their classrooms,(see Pete Reilly's Logic Does Not Apply) -- consideration of the atmosphere suggests several alternatives:

  1. Start out with a fun collaboration that creates the conducive atmosphere among the people who are facing the change
  2. Start small so the conducive atmosphere comes from the intimate conversations among the few people involved
  3. Start with free-thinkers who bring the atmosphere with them and set the right tone from the start
  4. Start with a session to have each participant aware of contrasting atmospheres and the effects on changing that occur, in order to troubleshoot flare-ups in resistance to change and breakdowns in change efforts.

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