If you attended Lagos State Model College, Badagry in the 90s you already know what DIKOR is and for the rest of you, DIKOR is an acronym for Discipline Keeping Organisation. I don’t know if DIKOR still exists but back then DIKOR was a force to reckon with. DIKOR was a “voluntary” organization entrusted with the sole aim of keeping students in check. It was started by a very eclectic teacher and he used some then radical means. He had students informing on students and secret spies that He hand-picked. Somehow at some point He assumed that I’d make a good spy but later changed his mind when I wasn’t producing results…*smile. Some of the spies used this “power” for evil to get back at other students and just simply for malicious intent. At the beginning of a new week, Monday morning to be precise the News for the last week would be read out at the students’ assembly and at the tail end would be a list of DIKOR “offenders”. I can’t remember all the details about DIKOR but there is one particular rule that is imprinted in my brain. In my alumni then, you dare not throw trash on the floor. You just couldn’t do it. Trash must be disposed in the trash can. It sounds like simple logic, right? Wrong! Have you seen the amount of litter on our roads in Lagos? Lagos is filthy! Even my mum was affected by the DIKOR buzz. You see, my alumni is a boarding school and once we get back home on holidays a lot of the DIKOR rules had become hardcore habits. We’d go out with my mum and have some snacks rather than throw the trash out we’d throw the whole lot right in her car or in her handbag. After a while she just banned us eating stuff in the car.
In Malcolm Gladwell’s book Tipping Point: How little things can make a big difference, He explains that ideas, products, messages and behaviors spread just like viruses do and it doesn’t need a lot of time nor a lot of people.
The three agents of change that make epidemics spread as stated by Gladwell are The Law of the Few, The Stickiness Factor and the Power of Context.
The Law of the Few states that epidemics are driven by a handful of exceptional people. People with a rare set of social gifts; Connectors, Mavens and Salesmen.
- The Connectors: Connectors know lots of people and across a board and diverse group.
- The Mavens: Mavens passionately accumulate knowledge and information and share this with others. They are motivated to help and educate.
- The Salesmen: Salesmen are the people with the skills to persuade. They are optimistic, energetic and charming
Mavens are data banks: they provide the message ,Connectors are Social glue: they spread the message and Salesmen, well they sell the message. Connectors, Mavens and Salesmen translate the message of the Innovators into something the rest of us can understand.
The Stickiness Factor: Stickiness has to do with the content of the message. The message has to inspire as well as be memorable. It has to spur people to action.
The message should be practical and personal and careful attention should be paid to the format and structure of the material and medium. The law of stickiness states that there is a simple way to package information that under the right circumstances can make it irresistible.
The Power of Context explains that epidemics are sensitive to the conditions and circumstances.
One of the examples Mr Gladwell uses that I like very much is the “Broken Windows Theory”. A brainchild of criminologist James Q. Wilson and George Kelling. They argued that crime is the inevitable result of disorder. That if a window is broken and left unrepaired, people walking by will conclude that no one cares and no one is in charge. Soon more windows will be broken and the sense of anarchy will spread from the building to the streets sending a signal that anything goes.
Another highlight from the book was that in order to create one contagious movement, you often have to create many small movements first.
These are all ideas that make us question the way we see certain things. If you are in a leadership position or an Innovator I honestly recommend this book.
I recently stumbled on the “Spirit of Lagos” on twitter. I don’t quite get all the parameters they have used to define what the “Spirit of Lagos” is all about but I want to know more. It is very important to define our parameters in a clear and concise manner. We need to make it understandable and relatable and the implementation has to be fast and dynamic so that it doesn’t get sluggish.
Another such “spirits” has been the spirit of agriculture i.e. the one project and Dbanj and the “Good People, Great Nation” Project. I also want to know more about this.
We don’t need much in the pursuit of change. Change can be broken down to even the basic units: change in our families, in our schools and even in our companies. We can define the parameters and make it clear and concise.
I recently noticed that Entrepreneurship, Motivational speaking, Social media and Government accountability amongst other things is really high on the agenda these days however, the change we desire may not always come from the loudest voices. Some will be followers and some will be employees and some will be listeners and some will be Students but the basics cannot change. Basics like appreciation, excellence, discipline, intergrity, courage, compassion and industry. Basics like having dreams, valuing knowledge and information, understanding the principles of money and creative problem solving. Basics like the ability to believe in yourself and do the right thing.
Fast forward many (many) years down the line, I have two biological children and many many more children and DIKOR has shown me that
- Being cool is not as important as getting the job done.
- Change is hard but somebody has to do it.
- The message has to be clear and concise so that people can understand the parameters of both the action and the consequence.
- And everything created can be used for good and for evil. It is a matter of making the right choice daily.