Where are our big blindspots?

Mark Earls’ post called ‘Memories of the future (5) Things or people?‘ got me thinking about our blindspots when it comes to change and how stuff spreads through populations. It also has an impact on our approach to the evaluation of individual/mass behaviour change.

Mark starts by saying …

“it’s all to easy for us to get distracted by character of the things we make – by their stickiness and the contagiousness – and imagine that it’s these kind of qualities (and thus ultimately our efforts) that determines the success of the things (i.e. how far and fast they spread through a given population).

For me, the things we make include our behaviour change projects/programs and our efforts will make a big difference on the success of ‘our thing’. Mark suggests that this ‘default setting’ (or worldview) blinds us to the “underlying mechanism by which things spread: that is – through people.”

tech changes

Mark points to a few reasons why these blind spots exist …

“1. it plays to what we want to believe about ourselves as masters of persuasion and manipulation of the masses

2. it helps us avoid all that messy human stuff that can so bog brilliance down & (last but not least)

3. because everyone else does it, too.

Mark hen ends with a question …

“The future of marketing and related disciplines is really about getting better at the people stuff and embracing the messiness of it and our lack of real control over the outcomes.”

And to sum up, what does all this mean for the approach we take to designing, staging and evaluating change programs? If we truly take a ‘people focused’ approach in our work together … start embracing the ‘messiness’ and our lack of control over our project’s outcomes, what would change? What does our evaluation approach to behaviour change start to look like? What indicators become important? Which ones do we drop off? What are the new tools we need in our evaluation toolkit? And beyond the need for change, what do we need to pay more attention to?

Geoff Brown

Cartoon shown by Hugh McLeod over at Gaping Void

| January 31st, 2010 | Posted in Behaviour Change, Fear |

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