Taking on Social Change as a Business Owner
The way I see it, education is the basis of all change. Education doesn’t necessarily have to be formal; for example, burning your hand on a hot stove is educational, but not a formal or structured process. The change that occurs is in the understanding of the burned individual, who learns to be cautious around stoves. I believe that learning drives change, and in order to create change it is necessary to educate ourselves and others. As the world continues to grow more connected, it’s readily apparent that it isn’t enough to simply exist, live and work for our own satisfaction or well-being. The social ills of the world can be seen on every television, smartphone, social media site and news report, and it’s becoming more apparent that the problems won’t be easily solved.
Throughout my career, I have learned a significant amount about social change, how it affects me and those around me, and how I can hopefully effect positive change in the world. One of the main points that I have taken from my experience as a learning professional is how a group of dedicated people can work together toward a common goal and how many of us have relatively similar goals. For example, many of my past colleagues hope to change the educational system and its results using technology, such as mobile devices, media rich course templates, learning design and learning management systems. But many individuals and organizations stop there… this approach often leads to failure as they address the obvious symptoms of the issue without looking at the overall problem and its many systems that have been impacted. The other cause for failure stems from the lack of interest in allocating time and other resources to addressing the problem systematically and strategically.
I started my first consulting business in 2012, because I wanted to lend my skills and knowledge to other learning professionals and business owners and to help build a larger base for my own ideas for positive change. Although many of these were small projects focused on a single product, program or campaign, enough success on a small scale could translate into momentum and eventually cause leaders and decision makers who influence educational processes to be re-examined and changed to leverage multiple learning approaches and technology for a positive future. (Haha! No… that obviously didn’t happen).
Influencing social change can be extremely difficult. Many have written about social change, the need for change in specific areas, and specific methods that experts (some self-proclaimed) believe are the best approach to the specific issue at hand. The problem? These articles, self-help books and YouTube videos don’t address how social responsibility and social change may be taught, rather it is assumed that the individual and organizations already have a desire to implement positive social change.
Let me tell ya, there are plenty of reports, infographs, bar and pie charts to show how organizations and institutions are taking steps to implement positive changes, but the reality found in many office environments and classrooms is that the results are superficial at best. Personally, I became so frustrated by the ever so popular ‘all talk and no action’ approach to organizational challenges, that I gave up on my first business and settled back into employee mode. (Right, like that was going to last for long; I’m incapable of settling!)
It wasn’t long before I came back to my senses and realized that if I wanted to help influence positive social change, I would have to get down to the bare bone basics. I had to treat my co-workers and clients like students! Take gamification; the case of how gamification can positively influence the motivation of the individual/learner was and continues to be a huge barrier for many in the professional and academic realms. (Not to worry, I won’t go all scholarly on the topic; you can read my research paper if you’d like J). My first challenge was to encourage the “student” to want to learn more about gamification. After the “student” began to see that gamification could make learning enjoyable, the notion of gamification could more easily spread to other areas of the organization (i.e. human resources, leadership, etc.). The concept worked, and the work was rewarding, so I decided to step out on faith once again and started 3S Technologies LLC with my husband in 2017.
At 3S, we recognize that those that are informed (knowledgeable about a given topic) are usually in a better position to help others understand, as they are less concerned with the task of acquiring and assimilating the new information. We strive to first seek understanding with regards to our potential Customers and their challenges, it is only after achieving a deep level of understanding that we can take the time and opportunity to reach out and help others achieve positive change; this is how we help to influence positive social change.
Great breakthroughs are based on the work of many, with a single individual or small group making the final connection(s); we want to help make those connections! More connections help to ensure the prospect of ending disease, hunger and injustice; this likelihood increases dramatically as there are more people who can work on the problem from unique perspectives and backgrounds. That’s why at 3S Technologies, we believe that “It’s not the technology that matters, it’s the connections you make!"
We all should strive to obtain a better understanding about social change, what it entails and how it can be achieved. As the focal point of many of today’s challenges revolves around social change, it is essential that we each explore what’s necessary to enact a positive change and how we can contribute in our own way.