Category Archives: Change

When Technology Changes (ANECDOTE)


Minie BallsIn 1847, French Army captains Claude-Etienne Minie and Henri-Gustave Delvigne developed a new technology called the Minie ball.  This new type of bullet was an innovation that improved the accuracy of rifle muskets, because it took advantage of the gun’s spiraled grooves inside the barrel (“rifling”).  When the rifles were fired, hot, expanding gas pushed on and deformed the Minie ball so that it connected with the spiraled grooves and spun as it traveled down the barrel.  The spin made the bullet more accurate, and the seal created when the Minie ball changed shape pushed the bullet faster and gave it a longer range.
 
Older muskets fired simple, round bullets that were accurate only at short range, so soldiers that used them had to advance shoulder-to-shoulder and get within yards of the enemy to have any hope of hitting anyone.  However, with a rifle musket and Minie ball ammunition, this was no longer necessary.  The tradeoff for the new technology was that the soldiers couldn’t just point and shoot.  They now had to learn new skills to improve their aim, since they would be firing from much further away.
 
This new technology became popular right about the time of the American Civil War, but military commanders were slow to change their tactics.  Having learned their strategies in earlier conflicts with different types of weapons, they didn’t see the potential of the new technology and continued to line up their troops for close-range attacks on the enemy positions.  As a result, they experienced terrible losses on both sides until they began to change how they trained and deployed their troops.*  
 

When a new technology has the potential to impact our work, it’s time for us to adopt different tactics. However, the pace of change is increasing, and the number of new tools out there makes it difficult for us to know what is useful.  Plus, we have been operating in a different paradigm (way of thinking about our work).  It’s not always easy to see the potential of new tools.  So, here are a few ideas that might help: 

  • Encourage your staff to be on the lookout for new, relevant technologies.
  • Give them regular opportunities to help you see the possibilities for applying them to the work.
  • Allow them to try out new tools on a small scale and report back on the results.
  • When they find something that makes a difference, let them help share it with other staff and implement its use.
  • Provide recognition for those that find effective, new tools.
  • Share what you learn with your peers.

As leaders, it’s often up to us to model the way by challenging ourselves out of our comfort zones and learning which new tools give us a strategic advantage.  This doesn’t mean we have to be the technology experts, but it does mean that we have to create opportunities for our teams to show us new ways to create more impact.

 
* Historians estimate that the war killed over 600,000 people – 10% of the men in the North and 30% of the men in the South.

 

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The Power of the Peer (ANECDOTE)


Stanley Milgram ExperimentIn 1961, psychologist Stanley Milgram was trying to make sense of the atrocities of World War II.  He wanted to know what type of person could be compelled to treat people with the level of cruelty that came from the Nazi regime, so he devised an experiment and took out an ad in the local newspaper.  The ad invited people to come to the basement of a building at Yale University and participate in an experiment to test the effects of negative reinforcement on learning.  For an hour of their time, they would be paid $4.50.

When the subjects arrived, there was always another person in the waiting area.  This person was a confederate of Dr. Milgram’s (meaning that this person knew about the experiment and had a role to play).  The confederate would start a friendly conversation with the subject until a scientist in a white, lab jacket appeared and asked both people to draw a slip of paper out of a bowl.  The slip of paper told them what their role would be: “teacher” or “learner.”  In actuality, both slips said “teacher,” so that the subject would always be in the “teacher” role.

The two people would then be led to a small booth, where the confederate (the “learner”) sat down and had a special paste applied to his arms.  The scientist said that this was to help administer the shocks from the electrodes, which were then attached to his arms.  The confederate would then ask, “I have a little bit of a heart condition; will it be a problem?”  And the scientist always responded, “No.  The shocks are painful, but they aren’t dangerous.”

The subject would then be led into the next room and shown a piece of machinery that he would use to send shocks to the “learner.”  The scientist would give the subject a 45-volt shock from the machine to demonstrate what it would feel like.  Then, the scientist would give instructions about how the experiment was to be conducted.  The subject (the “teacher”) would read out two words loudly enough to be heard in the next room.  Then, he would read the first word again and wait for the “learner” to remember and say the second one.  If the “learner” got it incorrect, the “teacher” would flip a switch to shock him.  Each time he missed a word, the voltage would be turned up until it reached a maximum of 450 volts (ten times the shock the subject had received, which was unpleasant even at that low level).

In truth, the “learner” didn’t get any shock at all, but the “teacher” didn’t know that.  The first shock brought a grunt from the “learner.”  The second, a mild protest.  Then stronger protests.  Then screaming, shouting and banging on the wall while yelling, “I have a HEART problem!”  After 315 volts, the “teacher” would only hear silence when he flipped the switch.

You probably think you would refuse to participate in such a study once you saw what it was all about, and maybe you would.  But would you believe that 65% of the subjects continued to administer shocks all the way up to the maximum level?  Many protested during the experiment and asked if they could stop, but the scientist in the white lab coat would just say, “The experiment calls for you to continue.”  If the subject protested five times, the experiment was ended, but over half of the subjects were intimidated by the authority figure in the white lab coat and continued to give shocks even after they thought they might have seriously injured the friendly stranger they met a few minutes before.

Dr. Milgram experimented with every variable (room size, the look of the machine, distance from the “learner” and many others), but he found one factor that made the biggest difference in how the subject behaved – having another person in the room.  If a second “subject” (also a confederate of Dr. Milgram) refused to administer the shocks, only 10% of the subjects would continue.  But if the second “subject” continued to the maximum of 450 volts, 90% of the subjects would do it, too!!  That’s the power of the peer.

Peer pressure is a powerful motivator.  The subjects in the experiment didn’t want to be the ones who were too timid to do what the experiment required when their peer seemed to have no problem with it.  Others didn’t want to be the ones who appeared cruel when their peer took a moral stand.  Seeing their peer act in a particular way either pressured them to suppress their concerns or gave them the confidence they needed to challenge the authority figure in the white lab coat.

We care what other people think about us.  Maybe we shouldn’t, but we do. And so do your team members.  Especially those who have less status or standing in a group because they are newer or younger or less experienced or less mature.  This dynamic shouldn’t be ignored when you are trying to motivate a group to change their behaviors.  If influential peers* don’t support your change, you probably won’t get the support of other team members.  Make sure your strategy for implementing your change includes engaging these high-influence staff members.  Connect with them first.  Get their buy-in.  Respond to their concerns.  Give them a role and responsibilities in the change.

When everyone else sees them supporting the change, they will be more likely to follow their example.  If you neglect to engage your high-influence staff members, don’t be surprised when you get some shocking resistance.

* The staff members with influence are often those who are more articulate, older, more experienced, come from a higher social class, have connections or have some other status that is highly regarded in your culture.

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Filed under Accountability, Change, Character, Influence, Peer Pressure

Behavioral Change – Latrine Usage (EXERCISE)


Purpose

This activity explores the root causes behind why it is often difficult to create lasting behavioral change.  It focuses on efforts to encourage the adoption of latrines for sanitary reasons in developing nations.  Participants will understand some common root causes that prevent behavioral change and be able to apply this method of root cause analysis to other changes they would like to help bring about.

Setup

  • Give each group a sheet of flipchart paper and some markers.
  • Have one flipchart and stand available at the front so that you can write down “KNOW, GROW, WHOA and MO” as you describe them.
  • You might want to have a prize available for the team with the most unique ideas. (OPTIONAL)

 

Timing

Explaining the Exercise and the Background: 5 minutes.

Activity: 10 minutes

Debrief: 15 minutes.

Procedure

Use the following script, or modify it to meet your needs:

  • “Each year, two million children die of diarrheal diseases (WHO 1998).”
  • “The main source of diarrheal infection is contact with human excrement (Caincross, 1999), so improving hygiene practices in this area will have a significant impact in increasing child survival rates.”
  • “Unfortunately, 40% of the world’s population still doesn’t have adequate sanitation.  80% of this group lives in rural areas (WHO 2000).”
  • “Promotion of improved sanitation practices has had very little impact over the past 20 years.”
  • “There are many reasons for this, but it’s important to know the right reason for each context before we try to implement a solution.”
  • “There are four types of root causes for why people don’t implement changes.  These are Know, Grow, Whoa and Mo causes.
  • KNOW – they don’t know what is expected, why it would be good for them or how to do it. For example,
  • GROW – they lack the skills necessary to do it and need to grow and develop.
  • WHOA – there is something out of their control that stops them (“whoa” means stop).
  • MO – they don’t want to. They lack the MOtivation.
  • “In your groups, I would like you to create a flipchart with four quadrants.  Label them Know (top-left), Grow (top-right), Whoa (bottom-right), Mo (bottom-left).”
  • “Brainstorm reasons that fit into each of the four types of root causes for why a community might not install sanitary latrines and use them regularly.”  (Allow ten minutes for brainstorming.  There are some examples below for each category if you need them to help the groups get started.  When they have finished their brainstorm, have each team present. (If you want to increase the energy level of the brainstorm, give a prize for the team with the most unique ideas.)  After the presentations, have them discuss the debrief questions below.)


Examples

KNOW

  • They don’t know how to install latrines.
  • Concepts of dirt and clean are different in different cultures.  In some places, children’s feces are considered harmless, so there seems to be no need to dispose of them properly.
  • Latrines are sometimes viewed as dirty and even evil places.

GROW

  • They don’t have the skills to install latrines.
  • Latrines may be seen as difficult to operate and maintain (especially when it comes to emptying them).

 

WHOA

  • They cannot afford to install latrines.
  • There may not be enough space to construct one.
  • Community leaders may be hostile to foreigners, pocket funds or sabotage efforts, because they fear loss of authority or face or see an opportunity to profit. (This is Mo for the community leaders, but it’s a Whoa for the rest of the community.

 

MO

  • Religious beliefs influence adoption of new practices. For example, in India, latrines we’re installed in the northeast corner of a lot. In Hindu beliefs, this is an inauspicious place to put the latrine, so no one used them.
  • Women may feel they don’t have enough privacy in a public latrine.
  • The community may be distrustful or afraid of foreigners’ strange ideas.
  • Men may not want to use a latrine because it becomes “unclean” after a menstruating woman uses it.

(The source document for this information is “How to Promote the Use of Latrines in Developing Countries,” by Jennifer McConville in April 2003 at Michigan Technological University.  http://www.cee.mtu.edu/sustainable_engineering/resources/technical/latrine_promotion_FINAL.pdf)

Debrief

  • How important do you think it is to know the true root cause that someone (or a group) isn’t implementing a behavioral change?
  • How can you use the four types of root causes (Know, Grow, Whoa, Mo) to plan implementing changes better?
  • How will you apply what you’ve learned in your work?

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Filed under Change, exercise, Performance, Root Cause Analysis

God’s Timing (CHALLENGE)


Time

10-15 minutes
Description

This Challenge makes the point that God’s timing often seems slow to us but that we have to be careful not to rush ahead of God.  Things work out best when we follow closely behind Him.  The challenge is accomplish by staging a “race” between pouring a bottle of ketchup and pouring cups of water.

 

Scriptures

  • Genesis 37-50

 

Materials

  • Bottles of ketchup – 1 per group (The glass bottles are best, because the ketchup comes out much more slowly, and you can’t squeeze them.  However, if you can’t find glass bottles, plastic will work.)
  • Challenge Card (The file for printing is called, “JJ – God’s Timing – Challenge Card (CHALLENGE),” and it can be found on the Lesson and Material Downloads page at www.teachingthem.com.  This can be printed in black and white on regular paper.  There are two Challenge Cards per page.)
  • Prizes – 1 per person – recommend candy or something sweet to eat (The prize is used to create urgency for completing the task.  It should be something the participants are eager to get so that they will want to try to rush the task they are given.  This is to show that we often have to be patient and wait for the good things God has planned for us.)
  • Large, clear, plastic cups – 2 per person and one extra for the group leader (These are to pour the liquid into and from.  Each participant will need one, and one group leader will need one for each group.  The cups can have color, but the kids should be able to see through the plastic so that they can judge their progress against the leader’s cup.)
  • Ziplock bags – gallon size – 1 per group
  • Gallon jug of water – 1 per group
  • Red food coloring – 1 per group (OPTIONAL – used to make the water similar to the ketchup in color but not change the consistency of the liquid.  If you want, you can use this to illustrate that we are like God in some ways, but He is much better and worth waiting for – or so the ketchup commercials used to say.)

 


Preparation

  • Put enough plastic cups (2 for each person in each group plus one extra for the leader) in each of the Ziplock bag.
  • Put a bottle of ketchup in each of the Ziplock bag.
  • Put a bottle of red food coloring in each of the Ziplock bags. (OPTIONAL)
  • Print out the Challenge Card document.
  • Set aside the gallon jugs of water where each group can get them.
  • Cut the Challenge Card document in half (each half is identical), and put one in each Ziplock bag (one per group).
  • Practice the script.

 

Procedure

Use the following script (or modify to suit your needs):

  • “We’re going to do a group Challenge today.”
  • “It’s called, “God’s Timing” and it’s part of the Joseph’s Journey Series.”
  • “First, I’ll need to divide you into groups.”  (Divide the participants into the number of groups for which you have prepared kits.)
  • “Each group will have a Ziplock bag with a Challenge Card, cups, and a bottle of ketchup (and possibly a bottle of red food coloring).”
  • “When I tell you to go, open your Ziplock bags, and read the Challenge Card.” (Allow them to read the Challenge Card.)
  • “Now, you will then have a race!”
  • “Your group leader will pour ketchup out into one of the cups.”
  • “The ketchup represents God’s timing – how fast or slow He chooses to move.”
  • “The ketchup cup represents God’s will.  When it is full, God’s will has been fully accomplished.”
  • “The rest of you will each get two cups and fill one full with water.”
  • “Then you will pour your water from that cup into your empty cup.”
  • “When everyone’s empty cups are full, you will each get a prize.”
  • “Sounds easy, right?”
  • “But here’s the hard part!”
  • “You can’t ever fill your cup faster than the cup that is being filled with ketchup.”
  • “In life, we often want to go faster than God’s timing, but this is a very bad thing to do.”
  • “We have to be patient and wait for the good things God has planned for us.”
  • “In the Bible, Joseph knew when he was 17 years old that he would one day rule over his brothers, but he had to patiently wait for 13 years before God’s will was accomplished in his life.”
  • “Back to our race – If one of your leaders notices that you have gotten ahead of the ketchup, you will have to pour the water back into your first cup and start all over.”
  • “Does anyone have any questions before we race?”  (Answer their questions.)
  • (Then, allow them to fill up their cups and add red food coloring (optional).  You can then begin the “race.”  If anyone’s cup becomes fuller than the ketchup cup, have them empty it and start over again.  If the ketchup just isn’t moving, try slightly tipping the bottle to let more air in to replace the ketchup that is coming out.  (If you have a squeezable bottle, try to squeeze it without being noticed.)  When you are finished, have them answer the Debrief Questions below (also on their Challenge Cards.  The Rhyme Time is to help them remember that God is using even the times when we are waiting on Him.  If we trust Him and obey Him during these times, God will use them to make us ready for His blessings.)

 

Debriefing Questions

 

  1. How difficult was it to wait for “God’s timing” (the ketchup)?
  2. Have you ever had to wait for God to do something in your life?  How did that feel?
  3. Why do you think it’s important to wait for God to work in His time?
  4. How can you be better about waiting for God in the future?

 

Rhyme Time

If we trust Him and obey,

God makes bad things go OUR way!

 

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Filed under Change, Discipline, Expectations, God's Plan, God's Will, Obedience, Object Lesson, Progress, Teaching, Waiting on the Lord

Lemons Into Lemonade (OBJ LESSON)


Time

10-15 minutes
Audience

Children, Teens, Adults

 

Description

This object lesson teaches about how God brings good things out of bad and uses the metaphor of turning lemons into lemonade.

Scriptures

  •   Romans 8:28

Materials

  • Lemons – enough for everyone to have a wedge after you cut them up and 5 or 6 for you to juice at the front of the room
  • Lemonade – enough for everyone to have some (I recommend Capri Sun Lemonade pouches for the ease of preparation, distribution and clean-up.)
  • Knife (to cut the lemons)
  • Juicer (manual or electric)
  • Bowl or Ziplock bag to hold the lemon wedges
  • Cup or bowl to catch the juice
  • Sugar (1 cup should be enough for the amount of lemonade you are making)
  • Water (approximately 2 quarts)
  • Pitcher (one)
  • Spoon (for stirring the lemonade)
  • Table to work on

Preparation

  • Slice lemons into wedges.
  • Set up all your materials on a table at the front.
  • Enlist a few helpers to help you pass out lemons and lemonade at different times during the lesson.
  • Practice the script.

Procedure

Use the following script (or modify to suit your needs):

  • “How many of you have tasted a lemon before?” (As you talk, juice five or six lemons into your cup or bowl, and have someone pass around the lemon wedges to everyone in the audience.)
  •  “Why don’t we all take a taste of the lemons you’ve been given.” (Demonstrate what you want them to do, and observe them tasting their lemons.  Comment on the sour faces.)
  • “They are pretty sour, aren’t they?”  (Continue juicing your lemons as you talk.)
  • “They make you think twice before taking a second bite, I bet.”
  • “You know, sometimes life is pretty sour. I bet this is not the first time you made that face.”
  • “The truth is, bad things sometimes happen to good people.”
  • “Sometimes it’s not your fault.”
  • “You may not have done anything to deserve it, but you are suffering anyway.”
  • “Maybe a bully picks on you or your brother takes your stuff or your sister tells a lie about you…”
  • “Those could be pretty sour experiences, and they might make you want to make the same face you made a minute ago.”
  • “But you know what? When life gives you lemons, God makes lemonade!”
  • “Yep, He uses the bad stuff that happens to us to make us better. He doesn’t always take the bad stuff away. Often, He sweetens it.” (Pour the juice, water and some of your sugar into the pitcher and stir.)
  • “One day, the same bully who picked on you may become your friend.”
  • “Your brother took your old stuff, but you got something better.”
  • “Your sister told a lie about you, but she apologized later.”
  • “God takes lemons and makes lemonade.” (Taste, make sour face, add more sugar and stir.)
  • “It may take some time for God to sweeten up your lemon juice, but I promise He will if you will trust him with your lemons.” (Taste and smile.)
  • “Ahhh! That’s good stuff! How’s your lemonade?”  (Show mock surprise when they protest that they only have lemons.)
  • “What? All you’ve got are sour lemons?”
  • “Let’s ask God to make those lemons into some lemonade.” (Signal some helpers to get ready to pass out lemonade as you pray.)
  • (PRAY) “Lord, all of these kids have gotten some lousy lemons in their lives. Will you please take those sour lemons and turn them into sweet lemonade for each person in this room? We thank you for your faithful hand in our lives, and we give you every lemon that’s ever happened to us. We love you, Lord. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”  (Signal your helpers to pass out the lemonade.)
  • “Now, let’s have some lemonade to celebrate what God’s going to do with our lemons one day.”  (The Rhyme Time below can be used to reinforce the message of the lesson.  You can also have a volunteer read Romans 8:28 to show how God promises to make all things work for the good of those who love Him.)

 

Rhyme Time

If we trust Him and obey, God makes bad things go OUR way!

 

 

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Filed under Abundance, acceptance, blessing, Bullying, Challenges, Change, Conflict Resolution, God's Plan, God's Protection, Healing, learning, Lesson, Object Lesson, Overcoming obstacles, Problem solving, Transformation

God Doesn’t Waste Anything (OBJ LESSON)


Time

10-15 minutes
Audience

Children, Teens, Adults

 

Description

This object lesson teaches about how God brings good things out of bad and uses the metaphor of turning lemons into lemonade.

Scriptures

  • Romans 8:28
  • Galatians 5:22

Materials

  • Several cow patties if you can find them.  If you can’t, use a bag of fertilizer and just explain that many fertilizers include animal waste.
  • A pot of fragrant flowers
  • A piece of fruit that most people would enjoy eating

Preparation

  • Lay out materials for the lesson.
  • Practice the script.

Procedure

Use the following script (or modify to suit your needs):

  • “Who knows what this is?”  (Hold up dry cow patty.)
  • “Right?  It’s a cow patty.”  (Pass it around to kids.)
  • “Now, it doesn’t smell too bad right now, but who has ever smelled a fresh one?” (Acknowledge responses.)
  • “They’re stinky, aren’t they?”
  • “So, you probably wouldn’t go around smelling them, would you?”
  • “But would you smell this?”  (Hold up flowers in a pot.)
  • “Sure, because it smells good, right?”
  • “Did you know that this (hold up another cow patty) was used to make this (hold up flowers) smell so good?”
  • “How did that happen?”  (Take responses until someone mentions fertilizer.)
  • “Right!  Cow manure is one of the most common ways to fertilize plants and flowers.”
  • “How many of you would eat this?”  (Hold up cow patty.)
  • “But would you eat this?”  (Hold up fruit.)
  • “Believe it or not, there’s some of this (hold up cow patty) in this (hold up fruit).
  • “God made it so that plants and flowers take the nutrients out of the manure and reuse them to help the fruit and the flowers grow.”
  • “God doesn’t waste anything.  He even takes bad stuff (hold up cow patty) and turns it into good stuff (hold up or point to fruit and flowers).”
  • “If God can do that with cow poop, He can do that with the bad stuff in your life, too.”
  • “Some of the stuff that happens to us really stinks, but God will use it to do good stuff in our lives so that we come out smelling like a rose.”
  • “He can use those bad things to create fruit in our lives like the fruit He talks about in the Bible.”  (Have volunteer read Galatians 5:22).
  • “So, whatever bad stuff happens in your life, give it to God to use as fertilizer, and He will bring good fruit out of it.”  (Have volunteer read Romans 8:28.)
  • “God will use everything to bless you if you trust Him with it!”  (You can use the Rhyme Time below to reinforce the lesson.)

 

Rhyme Time

If we trust Him and obey, God makes bad things go OUR way!

 

 

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Filed under blessing, Challenges, Change, Choices, Conflict Resolution, Fruit of the Spirit, God's Plan, Healing, Hope, Object Lesson, Problem solving, Solutions, test, tool, Training

Joseph’s Journey


For summer camp this year, I’ve written ten Challenges (Bible activities for small groups and a leader to do together – sometimes in competition with other groups) and some large group lessons on the story of Joseph. They are all located on the Lesson and Material Downloads page (see the link at the top of the screen), and you can find them alphabetically in the list. They all start with the letters “JJ” for “Joseph’s Journey.”

Hope you can find some lessons that will be useful for you!

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