Deconstruction of dead habits

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The most difficult challenge for organizations is not to introduce new idea/practice but to deconstruct the pre-existing one. To my understanding, development theory explains that it takes long period of time to introduce any idea until it gets institutionalized completely. Having said that reversing the effect of the pre-existing would also take same period of time; if not, longer. This should also suggest that if the organization is not creating a better impact in the community, it should not try to degrade the present condition either.

One of our fellows, at Teach For Nepal, while working in the school felt some of the teachers were not going into the class as soon as the bell rang. Rather than asking teachers to go to their respective classes, he decided to take the lead and felt other teachers would follow. To his surprise, even after months of doing it, he got frustrated that he was not able to realize them of their duty. I believe, the support team, kept telling him what he was doing noble and he should carry-on doing what he is doing. One day one of the teachers mustered the strength to follow the fellow’s league. Having seen their own kin accepting this, made others realize that they should too.

What the fellow did was kept re-enforcing the idea and carried on doing it till it hit the threshold of rejecting to new ideas. With one disengaging from existing habit helped others to sense the possibility. This is often termed as getting out of comfort zone. For them going to class late had been a comfort zone and reaching to class on time was a new idea. Although fellow taught in same school, it often is difficult for the existing teachers to accept as their own. Also the activities of fellow, which is not typically conventional, set them apart, as alien. However, in time the adaption to the community and living in same conditions, they would start to feel similarity. The point comes when they accept, not openly many a times but heartily, as their own kin.

This is just one example of dead habit which exists in the society and which took rather short period to be improved. There are worst cases when the dead habit do not merely exist in their activities and behavior and are embedded in their culture or tradition, rooted in the mindset. It is heart-wrenching to hear a woman being beaten up and shamed as a witch, almost once in a week in national dailies. The government has strictly stated there would be a strict prosecution to those who partake in such humiliation. There are number of organization working for Human and woman rights who take lead in creating awareness. However, still there seems some success met but not completely eradicated the malpractice. As a student of social design, one simple fact comes to shore is the behavior had institutionalized in the community and it needed regular re-enforcement so that no further cases occurred.

We can also learn from the strategies a product company takes to disengage people from using one product and allure them to another one. One thing they do most often is identify the role models of the targeted customer, mostly celebrities, and advertise regularly. There are also promotional ads which are associated to their emotions and claim to address them. Hence, the organization that are planning to improve the condition of the society should be able to understand the aspiration of the people, devise a plan, re-enforce it and wait till it overcomes the threshold. ;evolusun

Position: Founder - Saathi Ko Ghar and School Relation & Placement Coordinator - Teach For Nepal

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