strong>Technology Transfer Versus Training
Technology transfer is not simply passing on "how to best get the job done" to others in our field. That is training. Although training is one strategy in the technology transfer "tool box," too often brief flurries of training alone are thought to be sufficient in bringing about lasting change. The results are usually short-lived alterations in practice followed by discouragement and a return to familiar but less effective ways of doing things.
Technology transfer's scope is much broader than just training. It involves creating a mechanism by which a desired change is accepted, incorporated and reinforced at all levels of an organization or system. As Barry Brown, PhD, a leading researcher points out, "to produce behavior change, technology transfer strategies must not only develop the cognitive skills needed to implement a new treatment component, but may also have to induce or increase motivation for behavior change, reduce concerns about change generally, and/or about the innovation specifically, and explore organizational issues in adopting new strategies."Creating Responsive Systems
When beginning any change initiative, it is important to understand the multitude of factors that influence an agency's or an individual's willingness and readiness to change. Before we explore the specific Steps required to bring about and maintain change, we will examine more generally the factors influencing the success of any technology transfer initiative.
Effective technology transfer efforts require change at a variety of levels within the overall alcohol and drug treatment system - including clients, practitioners and agencies. There will be barriers to change at each level and different Strategies required if practices within each level are to change. The challenge, according to Dennis McCarty, PhD, is finding Strategies to promote the adoption of new technology at the client/patient level, the practitioner/clinical level and the program/organizational level. Targets for behavior change can also include the research community and policy makers.
As Thomas Valente, PhD, reminds us, the introduction of practice standards or new innovations can have both positive and negative dimensions. On the plus side, they can improve practice, facilitate interchange and dialogue, standardize protocols and facilitate analysis. However, they can also upset existing procedures, destabilize structures and threaten the status quo.
It is essential that system leaders be prepared to manage an expected level of resistance or tension as change elements are put into place. Specifically, it is important to anticipate attempts at all levels to maintain the status quo. Some individuals may feel threatened or uncomfortable in making changes that destabilize structures and upset existing procedures. If the strategy is sustained and based on proven evidence-based practices, resistance usually dissipates as familiarity with new procedures increases and improved client outcomes are realized.
In addition, the Transtheoretical Model of Change, as presented by Mary Marden Valasquez, PhD, recognizes that organizations and individuals are often in various stages of readiness to change when presented with a technology transfer initiative. She stresses the importance of "marketing" an innovation through Strategies that correspond to each target's readiness for change.