The most common question I am asked is whether there is a quick way to spread desired change across groups.
My Nobel Prize entry for answering this question is as follows:
"Yes and No"
The fact you are asking the question means you are in a type of powerful relationship over those with whom you want to interact and change. Namely you want them to do something different/ly and you want them to do it quickly.
The "Yes" answer is dependent on the carrot and stick approach. Pay a twelve year old to clean his bedroom and if the reward is big enough, the bedroom will be cleaned. Pay doctors a reward for meeting a quality target and they will achieve it (evidence the NHS and GPs). The stick approach is less effective but still works. It is no longer common to see anyone on their mobile phone while driving in the England. The stick of a fine and points on your license has worked, combined with appeals to common sense.
The "No" answer comes from asking questions like those listed below. If I get more than two or three "No's" in response then I suggest to the person asking that they have probably answered their own question.
- are you making the change yourself?
- can you describe to me the three main reasons why the person you want to change thinks this will be a good idea?
- do you apply the methods you are proposing in your own work and/or personal life?
- is your reason for this work more than doing a good research project you can publish later
- will the person/group you want to change see the change as coming from somewhere other than yourself?
- do your plans involve more than a communication exercise?
and so on