Leveraging Personal, Ego-Centric Networks
[Editor’s note: the following is a summary of remarks given by Jan English-Lueck, one of more than 20 presenters at October’s sustainable behavior change conference, Consumer-Centric Health: Models for Change ’11. View English-Lueck’s presentation on Health Innoventions video channel.]
As David Freedman pointed out and REI and Safeway demonstrate, the workplace can be a powerful platform for mediating change. According to medical anthropologist and San Jose State University Dean, Jan English-Lueck, Ph.D., the workplace as institution represents one of two different scales for behavior change. “The other scale refers to the networks that individuals create on their own, so-called ego-centric networks,” explained English-Lueck. The importance of understanding personal networks is critical because “when we get into the world of well-being, it stops being a form of knowledge that is owned by the healthcare system [such as ‘illness’] and becomes a form of knowledge that is much, much broader.” English-Lueck stated that various influencers within a host of networks – families, friends, affinity groups, etc. – help individuals understand and interpret information, and act on it, or not.
The ease with which networks can be developed and extended though technology today means that the potential for mixing and matching different “logics and practices” grows greater all the time, and consequently the job of determining the nodes of influence more complex. Nevertheless, the effort to figure things out is worthwhile because, as English-Leuck expressed, “every network that an individual participates in can be mobilized to support health.”
One of the growing trends that English-Lueck highlighted is the self-quantification movement where individuals are conducting experiments on themselves to maximize well being. “There are people,” explained English-Lueck, “who are thinking about and engaging in some really experimental ways to think about how you do something new, how to measure what you are doing so you know what it is and how you aggregate that data so it can actually become actionable.”
View Dr. English-Lueck’s presentation at Models for Change ’11: Small Experiments: Tinkering with Well Being