How can we effect meaningful social change in the Philippines? By change, I don’t refer to the game of musical chairs where one faction of the Philippine oligarchy takes control and relinquishes it in six year cycles. By change I mean “taking the Philippines from a dysfunctional current state to a more efficient future state”. This means going for broke, going for the jugular, seizing the bull by its horns – renegotiating the social contract.
AP’s platform is plain and simple – free markets, personal responsibility, small government (reinvent as federal parliamentary, too), and minimal taxes. This is in total contrast to the current state of the Philippines – a protectionist market, a tax-and spend wasteful bureaucracy and a government run by vested interests for the oligarchy. This perpetual cycle needs to stop – if the Filipinos are going to have a shot at prosperity for a larger number of its citizens.
Orion Dumdum pointed out the role that the elite plays in social transformation – it is a plea to all Filipino elites to step up to the plate and begin the process of social transformation in their respective spheres of influence.
Another good read is “The Tipping Point”.
|The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (ISBN 0-316-31696-2) is a book by Malcolm Gladwell, first published by Little Brown in 2000.
Gladwell defines a tipping point as “the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point.“ The book seeks to explain and describe the “mysterious” sociological changes that mark everyday life. As Gladwell states, “Ideas and products and messages and behaviors spread like viruses do.” The examples of such changes in his book include the rise in popularity and sales of Hush Puppies shoes in the mid-1990s and the precipitous drop in the New York City crime rate after 1990.
The three rules of epidemics
Gladwell describes the “three rules of epidemics” (or the three “agents of change”) in the tipping points of epidemics.
* “The Law of the Few”, or, as Gladwell states, “The success of any kind of social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social gifts.” According to Gladwell, economists call this the “80/20 Principle, which is the idea that in any situation roughly 80 percent of the ‘work’ will be done by 20 percent of the participants.” (see Pareto Principle) These people are described in the following ways:
* Connectors are the people who “link us up with the world … people with a special gift for bringing the world together.“ They are “a handful of people with a truly extraordinary knack [… for] making friends and acquaintances”.  He characterizes these individuals as having social networks of over one hundred people. To illustrate, Gladwell cites the following examples: the midnight ride of Paul Revere, Milgram’s experiments in the small world problem, the “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” trivia game, Dallas businessman Roger Horchow, and Chicagoan Lois Weisberg, a person who understands the concept of the weak tie. Gladwell attributes the social success of Connectors to “their ability to span many different worlds [… as] a function of something intrinsic to their personality, some combination of curiosity, self-confidence, sociability, and energy.”
* Mavens are “information specialists”, or “people we rely upon to connect us with new information.” They accumulate knowledge, especially about the marketplace, and know how to share it with others. Gladwell cites Mark Alpert as a prototypical Maven who is “almost pathologically helpful”, further adding, “he can’t help himself”. In this vein, Alpert himself concedes, “A Maven is someone who wants to solve other people’s problems, generally by solving his own”. According to Gladwell, Mavens start “word-of-mouth epidemics” due to their knowledge, social skills, and ability to communicate. As Gladwell states, “Mavens are really information brokers, sharing and trading what they know”.
* Salesmen are “persuaders”, charismatic people with powerful negotiation skills. They tend to have an indefinable trait that goes beyond what they say, which makes others want to agree with them. Gladwell’s examples include California businessman Tom Gau and news anchor Peter Jennings, and he cites several studies about the persuasive implications of non-verbal cues, including a headphone nod study (conducted by Gary Wells of the University of Alberta and Richard Petty of the University of Missouri) and William Condon’s cultural microrhythms study.
* The Stickiness Factor, the specific content of a message that renders its impact memorable. Popular children’s television programs such as Sesame Street and Blue’s Clues pioneered the properties of the stickiness factor, thus enhancing the effective retention of the educational content in tandem with its entertainment value.
* The Power of Context: Human behavior is sensitive to and strongly influenced by its environment. As Gladwell says, “Epidemics are sensitive to the conditions and circumstances of the times and places in which they occur.” For example, “zero tolerance” efforts to combat minor crimes such as fare-beating and vandalism on the New York subway led to a decline in more violent crimes city-wide. Gladwell describes the bystander effect, and explains how Dunbar’s number plays into the tipping point, using Rebecca Wells’ novel Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, evangelist John Wesley, and the high-tech firm Gore Associates. Gladwell also discusses what he dubs the rule of 150, which states that the optimal number of individuals in a society that someone can have real social relationships with is 150.
To those who will respond to the call and ask can we really make this happen – this post will provide you with a road map on what we are up against. It is not going to happen overnight – but through painstaking work at identifying the elite, “enlightening the elite”, and letting the communications model do its work – a “tipping point” can be achieved.
The crux of the matter is this – something’s gotta give and the earlier we get the show started – the better it is in order to gain traction and contagion.
The next section was first published in May 2009 and was titled “Is the Philippines Ready for Change?”
What is “Change”?
An open source definition of Change describes the term as “the process of becoming different” in terms of: a) Time; b) Social change; c) Biological metamorphosis, and; d) The mathematical study of change
For the purposes of this blog, “Change” refers to social change.
How does social change take place? When an organization is unstable, unviable, and unoptimized, how does it reach the peak state – viable, stable and optimized? Assuming we can conceive the ideal state, what is the mechanism for achieving the viable state?
Managing the Change Process
The venerable wiki defines Change Management as
the process during which the changes of a system are implemented in a controlled manner by following a pre-defined framework/model with, to some extent, reasonable modifications
Change Management can be used to describe
- a process in systems engineering
- an IT Service Management discipline
- a structured approach to change in individuals, teams, organizations and societies
- a systematic health-care reform
- a systematic process of managing the changes of official documents
For purposes of this blog, Change Management refers to “a structured approach to change in individuals, teams, organizations and societies from a current state to a desired future state.
There are many models and one can select a model that makes more sense to the target audience. Individual Change Management includes methods like Unfreeze-Change-Refreeze, Kubler-Ross, Formula for Change, People Centered Implementation (PCI) and Adkar. Organization Change Management methods include but are not limited to Dynamic conservatism, Decision downloading, Appreciative Inquiry, Scenario Planning, Organize with Chaos, Theory U, Solution focused brief therapy, Closework theory of intervention, and the Constructionist Principle.
The details of these methods are left to the reader for further reading. A starting point can be the Wiki on Change Management
Worth mentioning is the map/territory relation. The wiki expounds:
The map/territory relation is proven by neuroscience and is used to signify that individual people do not have access to absolute knowledge of reality, but in fact only have access to a set of beliefs they have built up over time, about reality. It has been coined into a model by Chris Argyris called the Ladder of Inference.Ladder of Inference
As a consequence, communication in change processes needs to make sure that information about change and its consequences is presented in such a way that people with different belief systems can access this information. Methods that are based on the Map/Territory Relation help people to:
* become more aware of their own thinking and reasoning (reflection),
* make their thinking and reasoning more visible to others (advocacy), and
* inquire into others’ thinking and reasoning (inquiry).
What Needs to Change
Using models provide a basis for review, analysis, planning, design, implementation, and feedback on the process of rational change. However, the most essential question to ask is “What should the system be doing? How should it be working?”
The basic requirement for rational change is to have two models – the AS-IS and TO-BE to represent the before and after models.
The AS-IS influences the TO-BE. By identifying the diffferences beween the two models, a set of changes that need to be enacted in sequence or parallel can be defined and allows the creation of a transition plan. Note that there can be multiple AS-IS and/or multiple TO-BE models depending on the model framework or methodology used.
The AS-IS model enables diagnosis of the underperforming systems, procedures, and organizations. A TO-BE model is generated after designing the improvements and removing the inefficiencies in the AS-IS model. The transition plan provides a mechanism for effecting the change from the AS-IS to the TO-BE model, with due attention given to resistance to change. Modeling the TO-BE state makes the benfits very clear to the stakeholders of the system.
For the purposes of this blog, the AS-IS state can be described as:
- Very High Incidence of Corruption
- High income disparity
- Ineffective Leadership
- Apathetic Citizenry
- Unstable Business and Political Climate
Another example of an AS-IS Model is provided here.
Likewise the TO-BE state can be described as:
- Low Incidence of Corruption
- Low income disparity
- Effective Leadership
- Involved and Empowered Citizenry
- Stable Business and Political Climate
Transition plans can vary, and in a nutshell can encapsulated as any of the following:
- Blame Big Bad Government Only
- Blame Juan Only
- Hold Both Juan and Big Bad Government Accountable
- Assassinate Change advocates
- Silence alternative proposals and label such as “racist” or “elitist”
The debate on what the best transition plan is ongoing from Aparri to Jolo, to Riyadh, London, Paris, New York, Los Angeles, Tokyo, and all over the World Wide Web as culture warriors unsheath their swords to either clash as gladiators or to beat the swords into ploughshares and build a better prosperous future.
The differences between transition plans proposed to the general public may be seen in the following comparison between the positions of two candidates on the issue of jobs.
Clearly not all the transition plans can effect the transition from the AS-IS to the TO-BE. And when the dust settles, there will be more clarity and a common definition on the form and substance of the definition of a transition plan for “change” that matters.
Communicating the Message of Change
There are at least two models on the mechanics for communicating the transition plan for the purpose of effecting change.
The first model, hypodermic needle model, as expounded by our open source reference is
a model of communications also referred to as the “magic bullet” perspective, or the transmission-belt model. Essentially, this model holds that an intended message is directly received and wholly accepted by the receiver. The model is rooted in 1930s behaviorism created by the Frankfurt School in Germany and is considered by many to be obsolete today.
The hypodermic needle theory implied that mass media had a direct, immediate and powerful effect on their audiences. The mass media in the 1940s and 1950s were perceived as a powerful influence on behaviour change. Several factors contributed to this “strong effects” theory of communication, including: the fast rise and popularization of radio and television, the emergence of the persuasion industries, such as advertising and propaganda, the Payne Fund studies of the 1930s, which focused on the impact of motion pictures on children, and Hitler’s monopolization of the mass media during WWII to unify the German public behind the Nazi party.
This view of propaganda took root after World War I and was championed by theorists such as Harold Lasswell in his pioneering work Propaganda Technique in the World War (1927). He argued that the people had been duped and degraded by propaganda during the war. Lasswell based his work on a stimulus-response model rooted in learning theory. Focusing on mass effects, this approach viewed human responses to the media as uniform and immediate. E. D. Martin expressed this approach thus: “Propaganda offers ready-made opinions for the unthinking herd” (cited in Choukas, 1965, p. 15). The “Magic Bullet” or “Hypodermic Needle Theory” of direct influence effects was not as widely accepted by scholars as many books on mass communication indicate. The magic bullet theory was not based on empirical findings from research but rather on assumptions of the time about human nature. People were assumed to be “uniformly controlled by their biologically based ‘instincts’ and that they react more or less uniformly to whatever ‘stimuli’ came along” (Lowery & DefFleur, 1995, p. 400).
The second model, the two-step flow model is unlike the first model. First developed by Paul Lazrasfeld and Elihu Klatz, the model states
“Mass media information is channeled to the “masses” through opinion leadership. The people with most access to media, and having a more literate understanding of media content, explain and diffuse the content to others.”
The opinion leader is an individual who uses media actively, who provides interpretation or explanation of media content. Our open source reference further states
Typically the opinion leader is held in high esteem by those that accept his or her opinions. Opinion leadership tends to be subject specific, that is, a person that is an opinion leader in one field may be a follower in another field. An example of an opinion leader in the field of computer technology, might be a neighborhood computer service technician. The technician has access to far more information on this topic than the average consumer and has the requisite background to understand the information, though the same person might be a follower at another field (for example sports) and ask others for advice.
The two-step flow model laid the foundation for diffusion of innovations.
How, why, and at what rate new ideas and technology spread through cultures is explained by Everett Rogers in his theory of Diffusion of Innovations – “the process by which an innovation is communicated through certain channels over time among the members of a social system.”
The theory further states that “The core elements that make up diffusion research are:
1. The Innovation
2. The types of communication channels
3. Time or rate of adoption
4. The social system which frames the innovation decision process
What is the Innovation all About
Is the innovation decision made by an individual who is distinguished from other individuals in the system? (as in raising the minmum fuel mileage to 35 mph)
Is the decision made collectively by all individuals in a system (as in electing a president).
Or, is the decision made for the entire society by a few individuals in positions of authority and power?
Suffice to say, decisions to innovate will be made and the mix of decision-making methods might vary from one social system to another.
The process of adopting innovation occurs through a series of communication channels over a period of time among members of society.
Rogers categorizes the five stages as: awareness, interest, evaluation, trial, and adoption. To elucidate:
Knowledge – In this stage the individual is first exposed to an innovation but lacks information about the innovation. It should be noted that during this stage of the process the individual has not been inspired to find more information about the innovation.
Persuasion – In this stage the individual is interested in the innovation and actively seeks information/detail about the innovation.
Decision – In this stage the individual takes the concept of the innovation and weighs the advantages/disadvantages of using the innovation and decide whether to adopt or reject the innovation. Due to the individualistic nature of this stage Rogers’ notes that it is the most difficult stage to acquire empirical evidence (Rogers, 1964, p. 83).
Implementation – In this stage the individual employs the innovation on a varying degree depending on the situation. During this stage the individual determines the usefulness of the innovation and may search for further information about it.
Confirmation – Although the name of this stage may be misleading, in this stage the individual finalizes their decision to continue using the innovation and may use the innovation to its fullest potential.
Thus, different people may be in different stages of adopting innovation with respect to the timeline. Understanding the stages of adopting the innovation will help identify the interventions and the approaches that are appropriate for each stage.
How Soon Can Change Be Felt?
The speed by which members of society changes – or adopts an innovation is the Rate of Adoption. The rate of adoption depends on an individual’s adopter category. The theory is expounded in our open source reference:
Within the rate of adoption there is a point at which a innovation reaches critical mass. This is a point in time within the adoption curve that enough individuals have adopted an innovation in order that the continued adoption of the innovation is self-sustaining.
In describing how an innovation reaches critical mass Rogers’ outlines several strategies in order to help a innovation reach this stage. These strategies are:
- have an innovation adopted by a highly respected individual within a social network
- creating a instinctive desire for a specific innovation
- Inject an innovation into a group of individuals who would readily use an innovation
- and provide positive reactions and benefits for early adopters of an innovation.
How do different people embrace change?
Rather then re-invent the wheel, let’s understand the source itself and use the framework by which it categorizes people based on the manner they adopt to change.
The reference states:
Rogers’ defines an adopter category as a classification of individuals within a social system on the basis of innovativeness. In the book Diffusion of Innovations Rogers’ suggests a total of five categories of adopters in order to standardize the usage of adopter categories in diffusion research. It should be noted that the adoption of an innovation follows an S curve when plotted over a length of time. The categories of adopters are: innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards 
Innovators – Innovators are the first individuals to adopt an innovation. Innovators are willing to take risks, youngest in age, have the highest social class, have great financial lucidity, very social and have closest contact to scientific sources and interaction with other innovators.
Early Adopters – This is second fastest category of individuals who adopt an innovation. These individuals have the highest degree of opinion leadership among the other adopter categories. Early adopters are typically younger in age, have a higher social status, have more financial lucidity, advanced education, and are more socially forward than late adopters (Rogers, 1964, p.185).
Early Majority – Individuals in this category adopt an innovation after a varying degree of time. This time of adoption is significantly longer than the innovators and early adopters. Early Majority tend to be slower in the adoption process, have above average social status, contact with early adopters, and show some opinion leadership
Late Majority – Individuals in this category will adopt an innovation after the average member of the society. These individuals approach an innovation with a high degree of skepticism and the majority of society has to have adopted the innovation. Late Majority are typically skeptical about an innovation, have below average social status, very little financial lucidity, in contact with others in late majority and early majority, very little opinion leadership.
Laggards – Individuals in this category are the last to adopt an innovation. Unlike some of the previous categories, individuals in this category show little to no opinion leadership. These individuals typically have an aversion to change-agents and tend to be advanced in age. Laggards typically tend to be focused on “traditions”, have lowest social status, lowest financial fluidity, oldest of all other adopters, in contact with only family and close friends, very little to now opinion leadership.
Thus, in FV, when discussing topics which might be considered “innovative” or “out of the box” or “creative” – you can use the framework to gauge the reaction of the FV community and identify the innovators and early adopters, the early majority, the late majority, and the laggards.
Celebrities, Pekeng Peryodistas and Bloggers as Opinion Leaders
There is evidence that individuals have different levels of influence in the diffusion process. Opinion Leaders have the potential of spreading positive or negative memes about an innovation and have most influence during the evaluation stage of the innovation-decision process and late adopters, according to Rogers. Typically, Opinion Leaders have more media exposure, more cosmopolitan, have higher socioeconomic status, have vast social networks, and are more innovative.
Philippine society’s Opinion Leaders traditionally consisted of celebrities and the MSM personalities. The rise of the Internet, however, has expanded the playing field.
The techonology brings :
- a new crop of Opinion Leaders
- a shorter Rate of Adoption of Innovation
- a faster diffusion of opinion
- more detailed analysis of the Philippine AS-IS state
- more views on what is the TO-BE state of the Philippine society.
- more exchanges of ideas
There is excitement in the air as people are hungry for change that matters.
A war of memes rages, may the best meme be defined as one that rationally and responsibly brings about prosperity to our society.
What then are the Prospects for Change?
We are still a long way off from effecting change that matters.
There are lots of inefficiencies that have yet to be addressed. And that will mean – innovating, communicating the innovation, managing the rate of adoption, and measuring the consequences of the innovations. There are many views, but ultimately, optimization will lead to but one viable/optimal strategy that leads to a society performing at its peak.
The fact that the discussion on how change should take place and what type of change should take place means we have a long way to go but we have taken the first step in a journey of a thousand miles.
Is the Philippines ready for “change”?
I will put it this way:
- The innovators and the early adaptors are ready for change
- The early majority is not ready, yet.
- The late majority is definitely not there, yet.
- The laggards, well… uhhhh…. hmmmm… ahh.. they don’t even wanna think about “change”.
It has been more than a year since the previous post was made in FV (May 2009 to be exact).
Since then more and more blogs and sites have cropped up to ask the questions that most Pinoys didn’t dare ask once upon a time. Maybe, because the ones that did were shot in Luneta or more recently, get abducted and salvaged – or get shot by motorcycle-riding gun men.
However, it is hard to stop an idea whose time has come. Our role as change agents is to stay on point and drive home the message – we need to work on our inner game if we are to join the successful nations of the world.