The theory of change

October 15, 2009

Finding a theory to discuss was a bit more difficult than I had anticipated because I wanted to find a theory that was applicable to my thoughts.  Thus, I found on the Connectivism blog Struggling For A Metaphor For Change.  It discussed a video with Tony Karrer discussing, “What is it that is changing in society? With technology? How do these changes impact corporate learning? Or higher education?” What I enjoyed reading was Mr. Siemen’s response to the video.  He suggested that “rather than offering a metaphor” that we look for  “what is the fundamental nature of change.”  This reminded me of a job I had before I went to grad school; I worked for an international engineering firm as publications manager.  My main responsibility was creating brochures for the oil filtration systems the company built.  My position had never existed in the company before, so there was a lot of growing pains associated with the position.  One of the main issues was the lack of adequate technology to create the brochures in the first place.  So, new equipment, computers, scanners, etc. were purchased.  One of the items of most note was a all-in-one-printer-scanner machine; it would allow you to scan in 30 pages a minute and create PDF’s.  It was expensive and replaced the dinosaur of a photocopy machine that basically only did black and white one-sided copying.  The point of my story is that I had to share this machine with about 20 other people who had been very fond of the old dinosaur.   As the new machine was brought in there were comments about its size, “It’s huge…takes up too much room.”  There was a training session on using the machine and all I heard where grumps and grumbling.  Anytime any of the 20 people had to use the machine all you heard was cursing and I even caught a guy kicking the machine one day.  And even a year later I still heard nothing but complaints and anger for the machine.  This amazed me…it was as if these people were cats and I had moved their cat box thus causing total chaos to ensue — they just didn’t like change is eventually what I deduced because this behavior played out with other situations in the office where change was made.   Completely fascinating!  What was it about change that made these people nuts?  Is it just part of being human?  I never came up with a viable answer but reading Mr. Siemen’s blog caused me to rethink the situation again.  That there is a theory of change.  He list seven broad societal trends that are changing the environment in which knowledge exists:

1. The rise of the individual;

2. Increased connectedness;

3. Immediacy and now;

4. Breakdown and repackaging;

5. Prominence of the conduit;

6. Global socialization; and

7. Blurring worlds of physical and virtual.

Like Mr. Siemen’s I believe that “responding to change is much easier when the nature of the change is understood.  There isn’t much of a point in talking about how to respond when we aren’t really clear on the change itself.”


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