Change Agent Factors

A change agent, or agent of change, is someone who intentionally or indirectly causes or accelerates social, cultural, or behavioral change. Because of their importance, agents of change are the subject of scientific research. Captology, developed at the Stanford Persuasive Technology Laboratory, for example, systematically studies how interactive computer 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 outside the agent’s control, such as the state of society or the seasons, or internal, by a desire to make a change.

An agent of change can also be technology. 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 of 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 itself is creating explosive change and the extensions of social networks are the fastest growing technological phenomenon since the introduction of the world wide web.

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

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

The wave of change is waking up corporations, institutions and governments through social networks. 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 ties with their members, and create a strong voice in society. A good example of a nonprofit that is 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 an agent of change 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 Changemakers community identifies and selects the best solutions and helps refine them. The result is global action frameworks, based on the work of social entrepreneurs, that seed collaborative action and visibility on a global scale, making a big difference, field by field. Changemakers Idea Reviewers are regular contributors of comments and analysis ensuring a lively and rich online discussion.

The “Open Source(TM) Social Solutions” model aims to challenge the traditional approach to issues such as 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 sparks new waves of innovation around problems stalled in conventional approaches. To learn more about Changemakers, visit changemakers.net

The list of other initiatives across 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 don’t 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 changes in our lives over the last 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 imposed on us, the human race.

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