In Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard , authors Dan and Chip Heath suggest that the best way to create change is to shape the path–remove ambiguity so that people can take action and feel confident that their efforts will yield results.
Creating social change
This is one of my favorite activities – making complex systems simple so that they can be accessible. Over the last two months the Stanford Social Innovation Review has been publishing a framework I developed last year on the five known levers for creating social change. These are the only five ways through which we have seen real social change created. It has been vetted with nonprofit, government and corporate leaders and so far it has held up to their examples and analysis.
The basic premise is that intentional social change is always driven by one or more of these levers and that if you know them in advance you can help design a campaign for social change with a greater likelihood of success and significantly greater efficiency. Perhaps most importantly, it can make the impossible seem possible by breaking it down into pieces.
Lever One: Bright Spots
Alice Waters of Edible Schoolyard used a very simple idea to change the national discussion on the food in our schools.
Lever Two: Data & Insights
Over a hundred years ago Germ Theory was able to become mainstream as data emerged to support its hypothesis.
Lever Three: Public Perception
An ad campaign by the AdCouncil increased inoculations by over 11 million people in 1960.
Lever Four: Policy
We often look at government policy, but efforts by WalMart around the environment make it clear that corporate policy can be equally important.
Level Five: Disruptive Technology
Smart phones can now get someone with CPR to someone in need much faster than an ambulance.
As we look at these five levers, we also start to see the role pro bono services can play in executing each one. Change on this scale can be expensive and pro bono services could very well what makes many of them possible. We hope that a combination of this framework and knowledge that pro bono services could be part of the equation might help make social change be in reach to far many more nonprofits, companies and governments.