Are there Initial Conditions for the Emergence of Social Change?

Posted on April 22, 2015 by


Egg-hatchingWhich came first: the chicken or the egg?  It’s a famous paradox with implications in our on-going discussion of Social Change.

Most of us are content to wait around for others to innovate, to don the armor of the entrepreneur, to start a non-profit, or organize a tea party. Social change is easy as long as someone else does the leg work. At some point we may muster the energy to reach for our checkbooks, muttering ‘How much do you need?’

Others, of course, and they are a rare few, are instigators are heart. They see how things could be different, and take steps to get there. They are both leaders, and change agents. But at the outset, the still face the old chicken and egg problem. Where do you start? What happens first?

Looking at the various elements of change and the complex dynamics of social interaction, I propose we look at 5 key areas that must be present for social change to .. hatch, so to speak.

  • Q1. Time. It’s a rare commodity; how do we organize ourselves and others so we can interact seamlessly?
  • Q2. Place. It may be physical or virtual, but people need a place to connect; what are our choices?
  • Q3. Leader. Perhaps the true catalyst in all this. Can change happen without a leader or leader(s)?
  • Q4. Idea. What is the problem, and what are solutions? Is our vision and strategy clear?
  • Q5. Network. Way before tipping points are the critical few who help do the work. How many stakeholders will make up your initial network?

Back to our paradox, which of these must come first? Seems to me all are needed for social change to emerge. As we discuss the elements, let’s challenge ourselves to get to the core of it. Chicken? Egg? Hmmm. It’s 6:51 a.m. ET. It may just be time for some breakfast :)

We discuss #socialchange every 4th WEDS using hashtag #smchat. Please join us.

And our sixth annual anniversary & reunion chat is next week. Don’t want to miss that either!

Chris (aka @sourcepov)


Posted in: Social Change