- When we are encouraging individuals to become more enterprising we are encouraging them to consider the merits of changing.
- To consider replacing one pattern of attitudes and behaviours with another.
- So if we are going to succeed in helping people to change in this way what can we learn from other professions and professionals who have been working overtly on changing behaviour for years?
This was one of the questions that we set out to explore when we asked Vicky Sinclair from the substance misuse unit in Leeds Prison to work with a group of enterprise professionals in Leeds as part of the Sharing the Success Capacity Building programme. Vicky shared with us the Cycle of Change model developed in 1982 by Prochaska and Diclemente – which seems to have tons of relevance to enterprise professionals.
The cycle of change has 6 phases:
- In ‘pre-contemplation’, the person does not see any problem in their current behaviours and has not considered there might be some better alternatives.
- In ‘contemplation’ the person is ambivalent – they are in two minds about what they want to do – should they stay with their existing behaviours and attitudes or should they try changing to something new?
- In ‘preparation’, the person is taking steps to change usually in the next month or so.
- In ‘action’, they have made the change and living the new set of behaviours is an all-consuming activity.
- In ‘maintenance’, the change has been integrated into the person’s life – they are now more ‘enterprising’.
- Relapse is a full return to the old behaviour. This is not inevitable – but is likely – and should not be seen as failure. Often people will Relapse several times before they finally succeed in making a (more or less) permanent to a new set of behaviours.
A couple of things require thinking about when we look at this model in relation to encouraging people to change to more enterprising behaviours.
Firstly, most enterprise professionals think that the path to entrepreneurship is (or should be) a fairly linear one if the client has a half decent business idea. We just need to give them the right training at the right time and bingo! This model suggests that there are a whole range of factors that are liable to lead to lapses – if not relapses – on the enterprise journey and we should be aware of this. Lapse or Relapse does not mean failure – and should not be taken as indicators that the person is not capable of making the change. Indeed they should be EXPECTED as a normal part of the cycle of change in relation to new behaviours.
Secondly, the change cycle will often operate over a timescale of years rather than months. When we are designing enterprise services we need to take account of the fact that different individuals move at a different pace. Any attempt to group people into cohorts and move them at the same pace through a change process needs to take this challenge very seriously.
Thirdly, and perhaps MOST IMPORTANTLY, enterprise services generally seem to market themselves at those that are already contemplating or have already decided that ‘enterprise’ is for them. They recruit those who are already at Stages 2, 3 or 4. If we are serious about really changing the enterprise culture then we also need to find ways to engage and work with those who are at Stage 1 – Precontemplation. This stage requires a very different approach to marketing in terms of both the message and the media. It also requires a different type of service.