Acquiring diagnostic information, maintaining awareness, and homing in are skills and procedures which all change agents should know and have, but they are also activities that client systems should learn to initiate on their own. Resource acquiring know-how is a large part of building a self-renewal capacity (see Stage 6 for more discussion of this concept). Above all, your client system should be encouraged to build and maintain a broad span of awareness of the outside world. This means establishing and maintaining meaningful human links with other systems and the resource mechanisms set up by the professional associations and foundations. These linkages are built and maintained through developing habits of visiting, being visited, interacting on the Internet, and generally being curious and open minded about the larger social environment. Extensive use of a variety of resources is not a common practice among many persons. Frequently there is substantial resistance to resource retrieval as a result of people's negative impressions about its "helpfulness." In other words, they do not believe that there is anything in outside resource systems "worth" acquiring. The change agent can encourage his clients to change this un-professional state-of-mind to become more familiar with he advantages of using outside resources.
Listed are several suggestions for helping clients learn more about resources and resource retrieval.
Provide a supportive atmosphere for the retrieval of resources by members of the system. Get official recognition and legitimation of the need for the use of resources through the provision of time, money, etc., to carry out retrieval and acquisition operations
Maintain existing interaction and search norms (e.g., the "sharing" of practices). It is always easier to get people to "add on" new behavior than to replace one kind of behavior with another. Some of the old habits of acquiring information are good habits. Your goal should be to support and supplement those good habits.
Seek out and use "creative practitioners" and "in-house experts" in the client system. They may supplant the need for more difficult acquisition outside the system. Also, overlooking their contributions could create antagonism.
Generate open but realistic expectations about the performance capabilities of the new information systems and services. They should not be oversold or undersold. Any resource should be approached with a realistic view of what it is capable of giving. People who depend too heavily on one resource for a total solution to their problems are bound to be disappointed. The goal of this chapter has been to show how the acquisition of a variety of resources can be useful to the client system. They each have their own special purposes. When utilized in combination they can provide substantial impetus for the change process.
Assess the impact of past experiencewith resource retrieval on the prevailing attitudes in the client system about retrieval. Experience may have provided a greater sophistication about innovations and resources, but it also may have led to some disillusionment about the difficulties inherent in translating innovation experiences from one setting to another. The change agent may have to work hard initially to turn such expectations around, by demonstrating successful resource acquisition and by expanding the client's awareness of both resources and resource-acquiring strategies. Among other things, you should show your clients how creative use of human resources can assist and simplify the retrieval, translation, and adaptation of both print and product.
Demonstrate how acquiring resources can payoff by illustrations from successful cases. Reinforce the message that there is useful information "out there" which can be acquired.
Structure resource acquisition and teach clients how to structure resource acquisition so that they do not get lost in stacks of irrelevant or over technical data.
Localize resources wherever you can. The first law of information use is: People, print, and product resources of high quality should be made available locally wherever possible. The Internet and social media are very significant tools in resource acquisition since they make almost all people resources proximate.
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