Change Agent Factors

Change Agent Factors

A change agent, or change agent, is someone who intentionally or indirectly causes or accelerates social, cultural, or behavioral change. Due to their importance, change agents are the subject of scientific research. Captology, developed at Stanford’s Persuasive Technology Laboratory, for example, systematically studies how interactive computing products can be used to influence the mind.

Numerous driving forces motivate the behavior of change agents. An agent who is constantly adapting to new practices is often motivated to find better ways of doing things. These driving forces can be external, shaped by circumstances beyond the control of the agent, such as the state of society or the seasons, or internal, by a desire to make a change.

Technology can also be an agent of change. Consider the changes that have occurred in the last ten years and much has been driven by the introduction of technological advances. From the introduction to the World Wide Web, the rapid dominance of Microsoft, the growth and impact of Google and the list goes on. These agents of technological change have influenced all sectors of society worldwide. In the last three years we have witnessed a significant explosion of social computing software which in itself is creating explosive change and extensions of social networks are the fastest growing technological phenomenon since the introduction of the world wide web.

Social media is being discovered and used in many different ways and each new application of the medium creates a new wave of change. The interaction of human and technological change agents is harnessing the societal clamor for change and creating non-traditional pathways to effect change. Social media is allowing millions to have a voice on each and every issue and one voice becomes millions at the speed of light. The power of the people is truly exemplified and enabled, while the impacts of these forces have yet to be clearly defined or discovered.

Change comes at different tipping points. The science of social media harnessed by technology has shown that tipping points of change can occur faster than ever given the enablement of social computing tools and reach. Tipping points for change are reached when a critical mass of people reach a level of influence that is self-perpetuating and reaches geometric proportions. This phenomenon is being discovered by several social media operators whose membership has reached the tipping point of adoption, i.e. LinkedIn and Facebook.

The wave of change is awakening corporations, institutions and governments to the medium of social media. Every day, dozens of press releases herald the introduction of new social networks in literally every business segment, topic, and geography. Nonprofit organizations are also realizing the power of social computing to advance their causes, build strong bonds with their members, and create a strong voice in society. A good example of a nonprofit organization taking advantage of social media is appropriately called Changemakers.

Changemakers is an initiative of Ashoka: Innovators for the Public that focuses on the rapidly growing world of social innovation. It provides solutions and resources needed to help everyone become a change agent and presents compelling stories that explore the fundamental principles of successful social innovation around the world.

Changemakers is building the world’s first global online “open source” community that competes to find the best social solutions and then collaborates to refine, enrich and implement those solutions. Changemakers begins by providing an overarching intellectual framework for collaborative competitions that bring together individual social change initiatives into a more powerful whole.

To keep the framework dynamic, the online community of Changemakers identifies and selects the best solutions and helps refine them. The result is global action frameworks, based on the work of social entrepreneurs, seeding collaborative action and visibility on a global scale, making a world of difference, field by field. Changemakers Idea Reviewers are regular contributors of comments and analysis ensuring lively and rich online discussion.

The “open source (TM) social solutions” model aims to challenge the traditional approach to issues like human trafficking and conflict resolution with a broader and more comprehensive set of stakeholders. As such, each serves as a platform to build an engaged community of practitioners and investors that generates new waves of innovation around problems stuck in conventional approaches. To learn more about Changemakers, visit changemakers.net

The list of other initiatives in all segments is too long to share in one article; however, by now you should conclude the main point: change is all around you. As individuals, we have to make decisions every day as our lives are affected by constant changes. There is an expression, people do not resist change, they resist being changed. As individuals, our human nature likes to have some control over the changes around us. The proliferation of technological change in our lives over the past twenty years has eased a human adoption curve to the influences of change. However, the dynamic that is causing significant disruption is that we, the people, are learning to use the medium of social media in order to create our own change that allows us to have stronger voices and influence over our world. This dynamic has only just begun, but the tipping point will accelerate changes in the very institutions that have historically controlled the changes that have previously been forced upon us, the human race.

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