How to instill change in your organization? 25 is the magic number

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Talking about change and transformations is always scary to human beings. But talking about change management in organizations is even more terrifying. Why? People like to stick to their habits, routine and usual processes. So, when a novelty, a new way of working, a new norm or new technology is introduced in the company, that disrupts the balance, then employees are lost and reluctant. Barriers to the adoption of new methods of work or new technologies are created and the whole user adoption arrested. The result? A waste of money, time and efforts for the organization. Despite the existence of many change management and user adoption strategies, research on the topic is not so developed. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

A new study has been conducted by the University of Pennsylvania and published on the journal Science about the percentage of revolutionary people needed to install change and make all the members of a community adopt the new behavior.

Researchers Damon Centola, Joshua Becker, Devon Brackbill and Andrea Baronchelli, created a series of small online communities of 20 people and paid them to agree on a social norm. Once each group was in agreement, they paid a select few people in those groups to push for change. This group varied in size, but trial after trial, if 25% of people pushed for a new label, it was adopted without any effort. Hence, the results suggest that only 25% of people need to adopt a new social norm to create an inflection point where everyone in the group follows. In other words, to trigger the change in a social group or community, only 25% of the members is needed to instill change in the whole community. After having reached the tipping point of 25%, the adoption of new behaviors will be smooth for the whole social group. Indeed, as the research demonstrated, the social pressure to change is so great that even though the remaining 75% of members were paid double and triple the amount of money to stick with old conventions they gave into the “network dynamics” and finally changed their behaviors according to the 25% minority.

The magic number 25

Damon Centola, associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania and leader of this research said:
“When a community is close to a tipping point to cause large-scale social change, there’s no way they would know this and if they’re just below a tipping point, their efforts will fail. But, remarkably, just by adding one more person, and getting above the 25% tipping point, their efforts can have rapid success in changing the entire population’s opinion.”

The theoretical model developed by the researchers of this study about the tipping point to install change in a social group, is an innovative model that can find an application in change management and user adoption practices in many sectors of the economy.
Applying this theory to the change management process of an organization with the adoption of new technologies and of new methods of work (as for instance a more collaborative approach) can be really useful for organizations to reach change and adoption more easily in the organization. Indeed, once the 25% of employees are involved in the change process they can easily influence the other 75% on adopting that new behavior, practice or technology.

The “magic number 25” theory confirms the theories that Silverside uses and applies in the PACE Methodology to help organizations transform from an email culture to a more collaborative business. Discover more about how our methodology succeeds in reaching that 25% of adopters to install change in the whole organization by participating in our PACE workshop.

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