Synergistic Change Model
When change isn't so straight-forward
There’s a paper I came across viacalled "A complex dynamic systems approach to lasting positive change: The Synergistic Change Model" (url here)
The Model as Diagram
My own summary of the model is:
There’s no simple linear relationship between the key factors that affect your outcome.
The factors are interdependent rather than independent. As exemplified by each of the 5 factors all having two-way relationships with every other factor
The factors as a collective is also not independent. They are enveloped within a larger context such as biology, physiology, and environment.
The larger context itself has multiple layers where biology & physiology is one layer and environment is another layer.
Tipping Tray Analogy
Given that there’s no simple linear relationship, trying to initiate change isn’t straight-forward or one-size-fits-all either.
The paper provided this tipping tray analogy in diagram form as well.
My own summary of the analogy is:
Given that none of the marbles are clearly labelled, it means there’s no fixed order to start with which of your key factors.
Starting with a single-domain intervention is easier than multi-domain intervention. But at the same time, a single-domain intervention might not be enough to induce permanent change and more likely to allow relapse.
Trying, successful intervention, and actual permanent change are separately different situations. A single-domain intervention that doesn’t lead to change is unsuccessful trying. A multi-domain intervention that works but yet to stabilize isn’t permanent change.
How This Applies to Entrepreneurial Engineers
I have often read that a software system is a socio-technical system.
Whether you’re building a custom, enterprise system, or selling a small, consumer-oriented app, if/when your products become successful, inevitably you must have executed the social aspects brilliantly.
When Applied to the Software You Build
You cannot simply throw a user manual and some marketing copy and expect your users, and customers to adopt your system enthusiastically without any objections.
And I’m not just talking about sales and distribution. Which is how you get initial awareness for the system you’re building.
I’m also talking about habits and long-lived business processes. Because when your system meshes well with existing habits or processes, or induces new habits or processes, then your system becomes "sticky", or using the words of Synergistic Change Model, "stable and permanent change".
This means you need to try multi-domain intervention for your software system to stick with customers and stay sticky going forward.
This is not easy because:
the factors are multiple,
they interact with one another in non-linear fashion, and therefore
no clear one-size-fits-all method that works for all situations and all stages of growth.
But, you’re an entrepreneurial engineer. You have no choice but to figure it out.
In the case of building more successful software systems, do bear in mind, you have to figure out what the specific domains are. The 5 domains in Synergistic Change Model are perhaps only meant for behavioral change.
Who knows, maybe there’s more than 5 when it comes to building successful software systems. I don’t have a clue myself what the specific domains are for building software, though I can hazard a guess.
But, what feels certain based on my experience building and selling software to businesses (successfully and unsuccessfully) and individuals (unsuccessfully) is this general pattern of the Synergistic Change Model with the multiple domains wrapped in multi-layer context suggesting multi-domain interventions is on the money.
Maybe I should develop it further and call it the Software Adoption via Synergistic Change Model.
When Applied Internally With Regards to Your Person
And of course, since the original model is meant for behavioral change, it’s good for changing yourself as a person.
Maybe you need to change mindsets, skillsets, and toolsets in order to become the kind of entrepreneurial engineer more likely to make successful software products.
In this aspect, you can apply the Synergistic Change Model as is. And this is clearly the more direct application of the Synergistic Change Model for entrepreneurial engineers.