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If change has to occur

Every environment, whether this is a country, a company, an government body or any other group of people working in a closed environment, forms a culture. Such culture develops over time and is persistent.

As in every environment, the island of St. Maarten contains a mix of local people from the island (most in numbers) and off-island individuals, either from The Dutch Caribbean, The Netherlands or other foreign countries. In this mix the island has been operating for many years.

In most cases, the only reference the local population has, is their own environment they live in every day. Sometimes they are in disagreement with things around them, but do not see abilities to change that around. These changes are always and in any case very hard to undertake.

Ingredients for change – The Burning Platform

There is one main ingredient to undertake a change: A strong reason, a burning issue, something threatening. This is called a “Burning Platform”. If the fire remains burning, your clothes, your shoes, everything begins to catch on fire. Eventually you begin to be physically harmed by the fire. It is a situation where your back is against the wall. You cannot simply step away from the fire because you are standing on a burning platform. You cannot run away from the problem. This example shows that at a certain point change is unavoidable: the first step has to be made.

UPG - Distribution and behavior of change capacity
UPG – Distribution and behavior of change capacity

People entering such a cultural environment will do that for two main reasons:

  1. To be absorbed in the environment (to live, to work, to educate, etc.)
  2. To change something general or in particular in the social economic environment (from work, assignment, engagement, ideology, or other standpoints)

Ad. 1. The first group does not bother too much about change. In fact, they strengthen the local community by their work. It is in most cases not in their main interest to change something. If a solution is given to an issue, they might loose their income. They accept the environment as it is and simply do their work while a vision and purpose remains absent.

Ad. 2. The second group falls into three main categories, where category A and C are paying respect to the environment and to change and category B is not. The latter is looked upon as change capacity by the community and contrary to this, B is in most cases unconsciously hampering the change instead of being a part of the change. We refer to this category as the L+

Change Capacity is scarce

UPG - Distribution of change capacity
UPG – Distribution of change capacity

All categories are represented on the island and we will have to pay respect to all of those groups. If we want change we must quickly realise that no category is more valuable than the other. They are interconnected.

The real change capacity is therefore scarce. It consists of a unique combination of local people from the island and people from abroad. We have to appreciate and respect the local the environment.
We want to work together with the local population. They are the ones who have the know how on how to address most of the issues. We will assist the island with having a clear set of goals. When the population works together we can do large scale change with little individual work. In other words working together makes more sense then trying to be superman. Having clear goals will faciliate and drive the environment to be open to change.

Reason for change has to be clear

What is causing and driving the need for change has to be made very clear and understandable for everyone. Change is not a purpose by itself; it has to serve a purpose, that something gets better; To turn something that is unwanted into a benefit. Your reason for change has to present a clear analysis of what happens if no changes are done. The reason has to show what steps are needed for change and it has to make clear what the ultimate benefits will be.

Change is a painful process

Yes, it is. Non painful ways of changing serious things are unfortunately non existent. That is the main reason that most people avoid change and move away from it if it approaches them. It seems a lot easier to bypass or to walk away from having to change. It is easier to not do anything.  But in reality procastinating leads to things piling up. Stepping away from the necessity to change only makes things worse. If measures are neglected the result will be a self fulfilling prophecy.

Well manageable, controlled process

Now that change is defined as a painful process, it does not mean that it has to be a uncontrolled process. If you are receiving an injection, we all know that you can get the same positive results if you gently approach the process. Force will add unneeded pain. In other words there are good ways to do this. If structural measures are taking, in which respect is given and clarity is given, the end result will be beneficial to everyone. Especially to the ones that are part of the process. We are making clear where we stand and what we have to overcome for change to happen.

Explaining the odds

UPG will start doing research and create a database. A lot of information will have to be provided for others to grasp our angle. We want our purpose to be clear so that it can be understood by anybody. In time our database will grow and as more people begin to contribute to it the benefts that it provides to everyone will be understood.