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The Meta-Volition Change Process


Disciplines > Change Management > Articles > The Meta-Volition Change Process

Initiating | Catalyzing | Viral marketing | Accelerating | Anchoring | Institutionalizing | See also


Yancey (2009) describes a process for creating change within organizations. The original target is healthy ways of behaving as a part of preventive medicine. The approach is also perfectly useful in spreading of other changes, from new values to specific actions.


Direction: Leader to leader

During the initiating phase, interest and commitment is sought amongst leaders, led by 'sparkplugs' or 'boisterous leaders'. These are charismatic and passionate people who are already keen on the change and are ready to spread their enthusiasm to other leaders.


Direction: Organization to individual

In this phase the practices are spread to individuals, for example with leaders prompting or endorsing practices. Local champions may be identified who will carry the word to people in their team or nearby. Informal discussion and activities may be set up to spread ideas further, developing understanding and promoting practice.

A part of this is creating norms where enacting the practice is considered everyday and that non-practice becomes less and less acceptable.

Viral marketing

Direction: Individual to organization

In this phase, the activity is spread through social connections, creating a buzz of discussion, with deepening socialization of the practice, conversation about pros and cons and generally creating a wider diffusion.

This involves word-of-mouth communication that utilizes informal networks. It is helped when social leaders become involved, where the practice is easy to understand and try out, and when results are clear and beneficial.


Direction: Organization to Organization

When the practice becomes spread sufficiently and benefits are becoming clear, the spread of attention moves back up to managers who will become more committed as they see that this is not just a fad and that it has real value for the organization. With such clear benefits, managers redouble their efforts in spreading the practice.


Direction: Organization to Community

As the practice becomes widely spread, it needs to be made a permanent feature, for example with inclusion in standard procedures, measures and so on. It also gets built into processes such as performance management, recruitment and promotion.

This requires resourcing for the longer term and so financial arrangements may need to be permanently changed, people directed differently, new roles created and so on.


Direction: Community to Individual

Finally, the practice is built into the wider society. This may include cultural shifts, new policies or even, in national situations, new laws.

During this phase within companies, the approach may also spread between sub-organizations within the overall company or wider society. This may be through papers, conferences and inter-group meetings, where quantification of the benefits provides an undeniable reason for wider adoption.

See also

The 4D Change Project Framework


Yancey, A.K. (2009). The meta-volition model: Organizational leadership is the key ingredient in getting society moving, literally!, Preventive Medicine, 49, 342–351

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