10 Tips for Change Agents: KYNE’s Learnings from #AOCS18

By Darcy Sawatzki and Allison Maxwell

February 20, 2018

Woman projected on screen at conference

February 20, 2018 – The theme of the Agents of Change Summit 2018 was “The Science & Technology of Behavior Change,” though we think it could have also been called “The Hearts & Minds Making Change Possible.” The secret sauce of this invigorating conference was all of the people who came together with their experiences, ideas and passion – all willing to share, collaborate, inspire and challenge. We were excited to represent KYNE at #AOCS18. And, despite high expectations, we met so many more change experts and took away so many more nuggets of wisdom than we’d anticipated. We left San Diego filled with hope – these key learnings will help us deliver even better initiatives for our clients, and we’ve attempted to boil them down to a top 10 list that you, too, may find helpful and inspiring:

1. Want to start a movement? IDEO proposed five stages to movement-making with tips for each phase: set the stage, mobilize troops, call to action, reinforce momentum, and scale.

2. CDC estimates 115 opioid-related deaths in the U.S. every day. But Change Agents are tackling this crisis head-on! We are inspired by the efforts to increase training around the CDC Guidelines for Prescribing Opioids and expand reach of CDC’s Rx Awareness Campaign for adults. States and localities are on the front lines; Vermont’s Over the Dose campaign and Staten Island’s Tackling Youth Substance Abuse coalition offered evidence that others can use to build their regional initiatives.

3. California is a laboratory for exciting advances in social change and improved health communications. The CalFresh program has met its consumers where they are by developing an app that makes access to SNAP services easier, offering a range of touchpoint options (“Call, Click, or Come In”). As a result, more people who need their services are getting access. With additional presentations from Change Agents from the County of San Diego Health & Human Services Agency, San Diego State University, L.A. Kitchen, and the California Department of Health, as reps from the KYNE L.A. office, we were feeling pretty proud of our home state!

4. Speakers agreed that words and language have power, and the wrong words can have detrimental effects. The Change Agents on the front lines of the opioid epidemic lamented that the stigma attached to terms like “drug abuse,” “addicts,” and “junkies” keep people from understanding that Substance Use Disorder is a chronic condition, but with long-term treatment strategies, recovery is possible.

5. Do you build in the “YouTube Phase” into your formative research? Pamela Buckwald from Rescue Agency showed how watching audience-produced videos on YouTube gave her team insights into marijuana use within the skater community.

6. Andrew Freedman, Colorado’s former Marijuana Czar, told us that the state-by- state legalization wave has and will continue impact all of us, and public health leaders need to be prepared. We heard from several Change Agents on this, but we particularly liked California’s Let’s Talk Cannabis effort. Follow the link and see for yourself!

7. Funny or Die’s Brad Jenkins implored the Change Agents to use humor to gain a deeper connection with people: “You are never more yourself than when you are laughing.

8. Research conducted by the FDA Center for Tobacco Products revealed teen sense of humor can be dark and irreverent. Hey, so is ours! That’s probably why we loved their Little Lungs in a Great Big World campaign.

9. Bravo to Summit planners who asked speakers to use a clean, compelling PowerPoint template for all of the presentations. Future conference planners, take note! It worked to help elevate the design and caliber of the presentations, uniting everyone as Change Agents.

10. KYNE is a big believer in collective impact, and we completely agree with the five success factors shared by FSC’s Abigail Ridgway Stevenson: common agenda, shared measurement, mutually reinforcing activities, continuous communication and backbone support. For anyone else who attended this year’s Agents of Change Summit, what was your biggest ah-ha moment?