Developing the ISM tool for communities


The ISM (Individual Social & Material) Tool was originally developed to help policy makers engage people and influence their behaviours to deliver improved outcomes, strengthening low carbon policies and delivery. I’ve been commissioned by the Scottish Government to develop a version for communities working on climate change issues.

This community version of ISM will support communities to improve their understanding of how best to influence behaviour change. It will help to illustrate how they can design community level interventions that effectively influence behaviours at a local level.

Suzy Goodsir of the Scottish Communities Climate Action Network and Pam Candea of the Surefoot Effect will be working on this with me.

We want this version to be self explanatory so community groups can pick up the guide and use it right away without having to attend a training course. To be sure we’ve got it right I’ll be testing the revised version of ISM with community groups.

For each participating group this will involve a session of around two hours. Using the draft guide the group will work through a particular scenario – such as planning or reviewing a project. This would typically involved 2 – 5 people. While the group work on the issue, I will observe them to understand how well the guide is working. Of course, things aren’t clear I’ll help out so the group can move on to the next step. The session will finish with a discussion about the guide and how well it worked and how it could be improved.

Testing will take place in the first half of March. If you’re involved in a community group and would like your group to be considered as a tester please get in touch with me, outlining why you’d like to take part and how you meet the requirements below.

[Update: We’ve now recruited testers for this – thanks!]

To participate groups should:

  • Be a community group working on climate change issues (not necessarily CCF funded);
  • Have an idea for a new project they would like to explore using ISM, or have an existing project they’d like to review using ISM;
  • Be located within reasonable travel time of Edinburgh;
  • Be able to provide space for their test session;
  • Be able to bring together 2 – 5 people within the group who would be likely to be involved planning or reviewing a project;
  • No prior knowledge of ISM is required, in fact if participants don’t already know about ISM it’s better they don’t read about it before the session! One of the participants in each test will need to read the revised material beforehand in order to lead the session.

We’ll select around four groups to be testers, aiming for a balance between different sizes and types of group. Community groups taking part in the tests will receive a small fee to thank them for their time.

If you’re not taking part in the testing(!), you can read about ISM here: