Three-minute case studies:  wiifm?  Journalism professor, mother, and grandmother

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Parents and grandparents Social Dynamics Stepping up wiifim (what’s in it for me?)

wiifim:  What’s in it for me? 

This three-minute case study is part of a series where we have interviewed individuals to discover how they are applying what they learned from the Allison Group.  What has been useful for them?

Carol Fletcher; Grandmother,  Associate professor and former chair, Journalism, Media Studies, and Public Relations, Hofstra University

Carol’s challenge:  How to stop demonizing social change and dropping out

Here’s how Carol describes the isolation and disconnection caused by constant changes in media and the world around her.  “As a professor and grandmother, I’m constantly reminded that the environment young people live in today—particularly the media environment—is different from the one I grew up in… or my children grew up in.  It’s even different from the social media environment I was comfortable with 5 years ago.

“My response to such rapid change has always been to hide from it or demonize it.”

Carol took a two-hour Allison Group course in Social Dynamics which was offered online.

“This course helped me unpack the accelerating pace of change…

…in our world and made me a little less afraid of that change by giving me a framework to understand it.  I found myself thinking about the lessons from the course long after it ended.”

We at the Allison Group believe that every person matters and that we are all needed to shape the future.

In addition to providing a map of the changes Carol was observing, the course offered specific ways in which she could participate more actively in the world around her, ways in which she could step up to bring her values to the future.

She reports she gained “tools for engaging with the world her grandchildren and students live in, and reassurance that I have something to contribute to that world.”

Oh, that weird behavior is actually making a contribution!

It’s often quite a relief to be able to think of your children’s or grandchildren’s actions as being productive and useful—to see them as pioneers—instead of just as strange behavior.

Our course in Social Dynamics also includes a tool for examining behavior in younger people that you might not understand.  Before dissing and dismissing actions that seem strange, we urge participants to examine them in light of highly-predictable patterns of responding to increased complexity.

Sometimes weird behavior is, of course, just weird.  More often, especially if it shows up often, it is in response to a change in our environment and can teach us something important.

As Carol concluded, the Social Dynamics program “has given me a newfound respect for my grandchildren’s and my students’ ability to navigate their world.”

Our experience tells us that many—if not most people—share Carol’s concern about rapid change and feel overwhelmed from time to time.  Social Dynamics can provide a practical orientation to the pace of change that often increases confidence and optimism and leads to increased participation in the world.

 


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Bio

Mary Ann Allison, MBA, PhD, professor emerita, uses sociology, complex systems theory, media studies, and evolutionary patterns to study social change. Her approach combines skinned knees (real business experience ranging from Citigroup VP to directing an Internet start-up and leading a consulting company) and rigorous scientific theory. Her model of Social Dynamics provides practical tools for consciously adapting to the future.

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