Archives For Change

In the Influencer: New Science of Leading change, Joseph Grenny (2013) and his colleagues point to the example of how the eradication of the Guinea worm was accomplished through three vital behaviors and the supporting six sources of influence. The Guinea worm is a parasite that infected 3 million people in 23,000 remote villages in 20 countries. The Guinea worm was spread through the water supply for all these villagers. Once the Guinea larva was ingested a Guinea worm would hatch out of the larva and start to work its way out of the host’s body in whatever way it chose. This caused immense pain that was temporarily lessened when the infected person immersed themselves in water. The worm would then inject thousands of eggs into the water perpetuating a cycle that had lasted for thousands of years.

The goal of Dr. Hopkins from the Carter center was to stop the spread of the Guinea worm and ultimately eradicate the this blight on humanity. For the sake of using this example in EDLD 5304 this goal would be referred to as the result.

Three vital behaviors were identified that would prove to lead to the near eradication of the disease:

  1. People were required to filter their water.
  2. An infected person must not make contact with the public water supply.
  3. If a villager is not filtering water or becomes infected the villagers must confront them.

The Introductory section of Part 2 of the the book (pages 67-75 in the paperback version) offers a wonderful summary of the whole Guinea worm scenario and also provides a detailed explanation on how the six sources of influence came into play in helping to change behavior that ultimately lead the eradication of the Guinea worm.

This is a very helpful example to use in assessing your Guinea worm (your situation) and identifying:

  • Results you want to achieve and how you will measure them.
  • Vital behavior(s) you are trying to change.
  • Who are you organizational influencers.

Using this section of the book and the six sources of influence matrix from the 10x Your Influence Research Report should put you on the right path to building your own influencer strategy. So what’s your Guinea worm and what are you going to do about it?

View the status of the eradication of the Guinea Worm –


Grenny, J., Patterson, K., Maxfield, D., McMillan, R., & Switzler, A. (2013). Influencer: The new science of leading change (2nd ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill Professional.

Self Driving Cars
Source: Self Driving Cars are Not “Five Years Away”

I have been a exploring change or why it can be so difficult to bring effective change to educational institutions for the past several decades so I when read this post about self driving cars being further off not because of the technology but because of people and policy I was immediately reminded about this reality:

Technology is is the easy part – changing people is hard

What can we do about it? I am still trying to find the definitive answer to this but over the years I have explored the following ideas in pursuit of this answer:

I could go on and on but you will note the the common thread in all these posts is that change starts with us and before we can change anything around out we need to be the ones who are willing to make the biggest change.

Most people would like to believe that we make informed decision based on the data or evidence and that if you want to convinces someone that your new idea, proposal, or plan is really in the best interest for everyone then all you need to do is present the facts in a clear and concise way. But what does the science or data behind this thinking really say. Robert Cialdini has been researching how and why people comply to requests and his popular book Influence: Science & Practice is the culmination of decades of research that outlines the six universal Principles of Persuasion that explains how to structure your requests. The following video summaries those six principles:

Cialdini’s most recent book Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade builds on his research into persuasion and reveals methods of priming your audience to receive your message more openly.

If we really want to have people adopt our ideas and move forward with our plans then we must look past this notion that all we need to present the data or evidence and believe that people make informed decisions solely on the information. Not only will the head not go where the heart hasn’t been the head is open to influence from many other sources so we really need to recognize that just presenting the information or more information is not enough.

Change before you have to
One of the key ideas we deal with in the Masters of Digital Learning and Leading program at Lamar University is change and how to use technology as a catalyst to bring about change in the learning environment. Reluctance to change is one of the most difficult challenges that most of us who promote the use of educational technology have to wrestle with. Ideally we would all like to work with only highly motivated colleagues and students but this is not the world we live in.

In response to a student request to share links to useful articles dealing with reluctance to change I did a quick search on my blog to find a couple really good articles or posts to share and I was surprised to notice that I have over 226 posts that are tagged with the word ”change” and dozens more posts that simply include the word change. I have several hundred notes in Evernote about change, dozens of links to articles on change in my Zotero reference database and I and hundreds more links related to change, reform, and innovation related to technology in education in my Diigo bookmarking tool. Can’t forget to mention the dozens of books about change I have in my hardcopy and digital libraries. This includes at least 6 books by John Kotter the Konosuke Matsushita Professor of Leadership, Emeritus, at Harvard Business School, who is widely regarded as the world’s foremost authority on leadership and change.

Out of all this how to do I find the just a couple of articles, posts or links that will be most useful. I started to review some my favourite academic articles and posts and after a few hours I was reminded by my wife’s caution

when people ask you for a recommendation they aren’t asking for a literature review and they more than likely don’t want to read all the books and articles that you have read…they are just looking for an answer to a problem.

So what is the problem that my student wants to address?

How do you deal with people who are reluctant to change?

The posts listed below are what I like to refer to as intellectual mash-ups because I take an assortment of ideas and combine them together to address the problem. Each post has many embedded links to the original sources so I am confident that the perspectives presented are supported by sound original insights.

The Head Won’t Go Where the Heart Hasn’t Been
This post points to the fact that while we like to believe that we make decisions based on rational thought the reality is that we are much more emotionally driven and as the title suggest that head won’t go where the heart hasn’t been.

People who like this stuff…like this stuff
In this post I point out the key factors for why people often reluctant to change and outline my 4 step process for organizational change which has become the foundation for the graduate course Leading Organizational Change I teach at Lamar University

The following three posts are also compilations of ideas that deal with the mindset one requires to embrace change. In addition, I address the fact that we often need to model or embrace change by living it.

Sense of Urgency: Create It Now or React to It Later

Pick Two – Innovation, Change or Stability

Practice Change by Living It

It is most important to remember that while change often is a constant part of 21st century living we don’t have to fear it or just react to it and let it adversely impact our lives. If we are proactive we can embrace change and use it as an opportunity for growth and development.