Health Administration 315
Unit 4: How Change Happens
We can only act in time and space; we can act only from who we are. This apparent limitation is actually our greatest strength. In connecting to the world, even in the smallest ways, we engage its complexity and we begin to shift the pattern around us as we ourselves begin to shift.
Westley, Zimmerman, & Patton, 2006, p. 19
Welcome to Unit 4, where we look at the nature and dynamics of change, and how progressive social change is achieved through organizing and development efforts to empower both people and communities to build a social change infrastructure. In the first segment, we explore the difference between simple, complicated, and complex problems. We see that the kinds of issues faced in communities are almost always complex problems that require an integrated approach.
In Segment 2, you learn that some kind of transformative change is almost always the goal of any community development initiative. You are introduced to four concepts that can be used to describe how change comes about: the importance of information, the concept of critical mass, the field effect, and the dynamics of shift.
Signs posted in a rural community in Africa. © Jon Rawlinson/Flickr. CC BY.
In Segment 3, we distinguish between normal (or routine) change and transformational change, rapid change and slow change, temporary change and permanent change, incremental change and transformational change, and good change and bad change. We explore ideas about how change happens, examine how a relatively small number of people can produce significant change, identify factors that contribute to the “stickiness” of a new idea, and learn about the importance of “reading” the context within which an issue is occurring to find a critical key for making change that is a good fit for that particular context.