This spring's entrance into the pageant is the Behavior Change Ball, shown here in action, in what is surely the most dynamic illustration in the short history of the field. It appeared in this article that appeared in April in the on-line journal, Implementation Science.
The model involves what the authors call integrated policies to address what they call wicked public health problems existing in wicked contexts.The authors seemed most concerned with obesity, but they have nailed the proper language for the problems we social service folks tackle (think child maltreatment, juvenile violence, substance abuse) and where we tackle them (impoverished communities).
Integrated policies involve how a policy initiated at the top of a system is integrated in practice by program heads through street level actors. Their versions of these organizational levels are: strategic level, tactical level and operational level. A policy that is integrated has aligned actions through the hierarchy.
The key behaviors at the strategic level are agenda setting, leading (mostly influencing and gathering momentum) and developing policy. At the tactical level, key behaviors are taking an adaptive approach (creating evidence, using evidence) to seeing what works, and leading the change process. Operational level behaviors include teamwork and network facilitation.
Obviously, the ball includes much more than these behaviors. Implementation is complex stuff, we know. A lot of things have to go right in order to have anything effectively implemented over time in multiple places. Everything is multiply determined and affects many actors and domains of behavior.
It raises the questions of whether our models are getting too complex to be helpful to those in charge of implementing change. I am not sure I can take this to the agencies with whom I work.
On the other hand, the Behavior Change Ball is a great idea for a fundraising party. Everyone leaves changed for the better. Who wouldn't pay to attend that?
The lead author of the article was Anna-Marie Hendriks. The author team is from the Netherlands, mostly from Maastricht University.