One successful trial of a planned change may disappear without a trace in a year or two unless it comes to be accepted by the system as a whole. Fortunately, there is a very large body of research on how organizations and societies adopt innovations. Any change agent should be aware of the salient findings of research, including both the predictable processes at individual, group, and system levels.
Widening the Circle of Acceptance
Real change does not result from a single trial, however successful. We can only say real “change” has happened when it is continued. When it is repeated at the same place and different places, and when we can extend these actions and their benefits to an ever-widening circle of others. The preceding five stages identified procedures that the change agent should follow in preparing for a program of change.
These early phases included:
At this point the groundwork has been laid for the actual installation of the innovation in the client system. Now is the time for transforming the trial into a successful system-wide change. It is in this stage that you find out whether or not you have a workable solution that can be accepted and used effectively by all the members of the client system.
EXTEND Sub-Stages: Five Things for the Change Agent to Consider
In the main sections of Stage 6, we will consider five inter-related issues:
During the period of installation, each individual who will be involved in the change program must be allowed to become familiar with the innovation. Each person must learn how to use it and must come to accept it as a part of their routine behavior.
This process usually follows a six-step sequence:
Awareness —> Interest —> Evaluation —> Trial —> Adoption —> Integration
The change agent can play a key role in helping at each step.
Review the full chapter for Stage 6 in The Guide for in depth guidance for each EXTEND sub-stage.
What the Change Agent Needs to Know Most in the EXTEND Stage
A successful trial run of any significant change project is a triumph to be savored, but it is just the beginning of system change. A lot more needs to be done to secure adoption of the trial, and even more needs to be done to spread the effect and the adoption across a larger and larger segment of the client system.
There are two basic ways to view how extended adoption works. There is a predictable individual process by which people as individuals adopt something new, which we might also call the psychology of adoption, and, of equal importance, there is the group process, which we might call the sociology of adoption. Under the latter we also discussed the pros and cons of specific tactics of moving groups toward acceptance and adoption. All these tactics need to be put together with our knowledge about individual adoption to orchestrate an overall strategy, keeping in mind that any strategy, however carefully laid out, must be flexible, allowing a change of course or even a move to an alternative plan .
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