Providing a change model

Last week, Tony was wondering how the change to widespread use of Web 2.0 tools would come about. On his blog I confirmed his conclusions that it will not come about through gurus, college professors or conference attendees. On this blog, I'll explore further how changes like that come about .

I imagine people need a map to get where they are going when changes come along. Without a picture of where they are at, where they are going and a way to get there, people get lost. If people cannot picture how the change is going to unfold, they get stuck in the past. Rather than imagining people resisting the change, acting stubborn or opposing progress, I find it works to see them "in need of a change model".

We continually tell ourselves stories about disruptions in the status quo as they occur. These stories are called news, rumors and buzz. Most people see changes as "being coerced against their will" or "getting pressured to leave their comfort zone". They tell these "victim stories" to solicit sympathy and commiseration. They cannot tell a story about the progress being made, opportunities coming along or the benefits getting realized. A change model offers another story for people to tell themselves.

As I researched my forecast for the LCB December question, I found that software developers have a change model in mind for the widespread adoption of Web 2.0 tools. They think it will never happen. Their model sees the Web 2.0 tools as a passing phase, a beta release of 3.0 tools. The bugs discourage the majority from changing the tools they use. Yet the heat is on to work out the bugs now -- as the early adopters find problems with dysfunctional interfaces, corrupted links, errors while uploading, failures to update, stalled processes and unexpected feeds "marked as new". They say debugged 2.0 is Web 3.0. Widespread adoption will naturally follow the 3.0 buzz about ease of use, reliability and freedom from bugs.

With this (or any other) change model in mind, it's easy to understand the time it will take, the challenges getting faced and the benefits that will be realized in the future. The story prevents discouragement, cynicism or indifference without spin doctoring the difficulties ahead. It shows the way to be patient, to let go of over-zealous ambitions and to trust the change process as it unfolds. With the change model in mind, it's possible to switch from frustration to anticipation while the problems remain prevalent.

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