IMA's 40th Year: The Year of Behaviour Change

This year is IMA’s 40th year! To recognize this milestone, we have chosen to focus on something we feel is critical for our collective future – behaviour change.  This is something really important to me, I practice a martial art, Ryu Shin Ken, and the group I am a part of see martial arts as a means to help transform yourself physically and mentally, via dedicated and consistent practice.  Alongside this personal behaviour change, I am also a trustee of Swarm Dynamics, a charity that seeks to inspire people towards cultural and systemic change for a sustainable future.  So, from a personal to a more cultural level, Behaviour Change is very close to my heart. 

"Every environmental challenge has one thing

in common.  To solve them, someone,

somewhere has to start behaving differently" 

Source: RARE - The Centre for Behaviour and the Environment.

Behaviour change is a huge topic and an integral part of many sectors and there are countless books, approaches, definitions, and ideas to explore.  Here, I am going to provide a small insight into behavioural science which connects psychology, anthropology, and neuroscience, to explore human behaviours. Human behaviour in this context can be thought of as our actions and the decisions made that lead to these actions.  These decisions are driven by what motivates us, and are closely connected to our values, which in turn are often influenced by our cultural norms.   

Behavioural science can be applied at the personal or ‘micro’ level, through to a higher political, or ‘macro’ level – from awareness to action. 

The levels of behaviour change. Micro, to Meso, to Macro.
The levels of behaviour change. Micro, to Meso, to Macro.

So how can we encourage behaviour change?  On a personal level, short-term actions show little change – it takes repeated conscious decisions and motivation to make a long-term change – which is exactly what my martial arts training is all about!  In general, people prefer to stick to the familiar, so there are many challenges to overcome for real and sustainable behaviour change to take place.  However, we also know that our brains can re-organise themselves – new experiences can change the way our brains are wired, and this is a universal human trait. Change is possible, we just need to select the right approach in different contexts. 

We can find entry points to encourage behaviour change from the micro, meso, or macro level, using approaches such as Human Centred Design; Heuristics or Nudging; using the arts or storytelling; and there are emergent new digital solutions. When we start to look, there are ideas everywhere.  Throughout IMA’s year of Behaviour Change we will share and explore  stories and ideas on this subject - and we would love to hear your thoughts too…

by Leigh Dowsett Senior Consultant & Research Manager

Find out more

Find out more about Behaviour Change on our Theory of Change in Practice open course.

Keep updated on our Year of Behaviour Change by signing up to our Newsletter.

Related Resources and Useful Links

Busara Center for Behavioural Economics – (re align WEIRD problems) 

RARE: Center for Behaviour and the Environment 

The Human Behaviour Change Project

IMA were invited to facilitate and support the Porticus team in developing their Theory of Change (ToC) and MEL framework following a successful online Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) training in Kenya with Porticus Africa. With all the changes happening around the world due to the pandemic, our consultancy work had to change, opening up a new area for online and remote working.

As part of the collaboration, we facilitated the development of an animated video and the initiation of an MEL framework, as well as reviewing Porticus program documents using the current Africa strategy. Staff were encouraged to draw how they perceived the current MEL system to start this process.  The drawings were collated, with shared thoughts identified and differences highlighted, to develop a list of starter questions initiating the discussion in a creative way.

We hope that our partnership with Porticus Africa has supported the development of their ToC and MEL frameworks, to enable long term benefits of their work responding to complex social challenges in Africa.

Graphic drawing representing a Theory of Change
An example of the structure of a Theory of Change diagram

"We work to create a sustainable future where justice and human dignity flourish. Lasting solutions aren't achieved quickly or lightly, but we know if we keep striving together, we can make this a reality."

Porticus website

Find out more about Porticus on their website.

If you would like to find out more about developing a Theory of Change, you can read about our Theory of Change in Practice training course or our Consultancy services.

IMA enjoyed running our recent 3 day training in Strategic Planning and Fundraising with JA Europe, thank you to those involved! JA Europe is a member of JA Worldwide, working to help prepare young school aged people for employment and entrepreneurship, creating pathways for employability, job creation and financial success. 

This workshop took place in Moldova with JA CEO’s and managers from Georgia, Macedonia, Moldova, Serbia, Albania, Bulgaria and Romania, before their annual meeting which was a great opportunity to continue connections made and use this energy to generate new ideas and strategies. After working closely with JA Europe to gain a deep understanding of the way the organisation works over multiple countries, IMA developed a 3 day programme to enable participants to plan and develop country specific organisational strategies for fundraising.

An unexpected highlight for all was made during this training, one of our facilitators had a friend in Moldova who also happened to be an Alumni of JA Europe! Nikolai is now successfully managing his own business, illustrating the effective work of JA Europe, and giving our course participants a chance to hear his personal story about the positive effects of JA Europe’s work.

The workshop ended with the development of individual action plans for creating sustainable and supportive organisations. Development of these action plans gives a firm grounding for the behaviour change and capacity development practitioners want to see after a training.’

‘I really enjoyed the training of strategic planning and fundraising skills. It gave me opportunities to look beyond my daily focus at work and about possibilities that exist out there for people from my sector’ - Kristina Velkovska Dias, CFO, JA Europe.

‘I really enjoyed these three days of training facilitated by IMA. Chris and Jolan are very knowledgeable, explain things well and inspire an atmosphere for positive thinking and shaking’ - Celia Deitz Valdespino, JA Worldwide, Director, Global Development.

This week IMA Consultants Dani Guijarro and Iñigo Retolaza have facilitated a 2 day workshop for Greenpeace Spain and Greenpeace International staff involved in strategic planning, M&E and communication, it aimed to explore how to implement IMA´s Theory of Change approach and tool in the GP planning and M&E System.

Using current programmes as pilot case studies, Dani and Iñigo have trained staff from different departments on analytical and methodological tools, skills and meta-skills to facilitate processes of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation that ensure an (un)learning perspective, using our ToC approach.

The Italian NGO ACRA works in different countries, directly implementing projects and working through partners.

Recently, staff at HQ articulated the need to harmonise their understanding of M&E concepts and tools. Leigh and Silvia facilitated a workshop for ACRA in Milan, allowing project and support staff to develop their own understanding of what M&E means to ACRA.

We worked on theories of change for a couple of projects and critically, spent time looking at how to develop and strengthen the relationship between projects and the wider, organizational learning environment, ensuring engagement and accountability.   

We were very pleased asked by AVERT to support their thinking process as they develop their next 5 year Strategic Plan.  As a starting point we explored the team’s thinking around AVERT’s work and reason for being- working globally on HIV and AIDS prevention.  Using Theory of Change we discussed the importance of personal and organisational assumptions, highlighting how much we need to be aware of these as they frame our view of reality and social change.  The AVERT team developed their theory of change over a number of weeks and IMA provided continuous support.

The next step was facilitation of the team’s analysis of AVERT as a learning organization using a number of organizational assessment frameworks. They mapped their knowledge flows and identified types of knowledge sharing that AVERT wants to access and provide, both internally and externally, to support and improve the work it is doing.

The workshops have allowed staff to voice their personal perspectives of how the organisation operates, bringing in institutional memory as well as fresh ideas, while all the time fostering ownership of the joint process.  Both workshops were very well-received by the small team, and provided a much needed safe space in which to explore organisational rationale, roles and functions; and contextualise institutional memory and new directions.

Copyright IMA International © 2023
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram