Book Club — Change: How to Make Big Things Happen

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Change: How to Make Big Things Happen by Damon Centola should be required reading for advocates. How do big shifts in behavior or beliefs happen? That’s our job and we’ve been missing the most important tools (unless you are a social network scientist). We’ve learned the lessons of sticky messages and nudges that make better behaviors easier, but to make lasting, more complex changes we need something more. We need to harness the power of social networks. He dispels the myths of social influencers, viral messages, and stickiness. He describes barriers like bias, blind spots, and silos. He describes the science that favors spreading complex ideas through wide bridges between disperse networks – and he explains what those are, how to find them, and how to use them with care. Examples in the book include lowering obesity rates, getting addicts to use clean needles to avoid HIV, encouraging contraception use in rural Korean villages, and controlling the spread of COVID. The book ends with a concrete and useful playbook of seven fundamental strategies for change. Definitely worth reading.