Thursday, July 30, 2009

Change Management

Change management!!! Oh how I wish it was esy as it sounds. There are many models of change management e.g. Kurt Lewin’s unfreeze, change and refreeze version, John Kotter’s model and also the one well-known in education, action research. Kotter’s 2007 article on Why Transformational Efforts Fail really resonates with me. When I consider all of the various changes we have implemented at school, I see now why some were more successful than others. In fact on reflection I would say I have been lucky to get away with some efforts without mass mutiny!! Creating a sense of urgency is vital and I note that this is what we did quite well when we reviewed the students’ understanding of learning—what occurred was they had a very behavioural view of learning and this was a shock to most of the staff. It meant that some of our teaching practices had to change and had to change fast! A great sense of urgency. Other changes in the school that have been failed mostly to move from the “have to do” to the “want to do” I now realize haven’t had the same buy-in from the staff and the same sense of urgency over the proposed action.
Not having a powerful enough guiding coalition is another major problem in change management and it is here that we are indeed very fortunate—all of us at the leadership level are very united in our mission to bring about transformational change. A major tick for us. A strong vision is another plus area for Red Beach School, in fact the school’s vision which was built from the floor up is the key to the school’s current success. However under-communication can trip anyone up and my own personal dilemma with this is its relentless need—I almost get tired of trotting out the same old lines, however the audience—new students, new staff and new parents are forever changing and do need to be communicated to.
Removing obstacles to the vision is another area of potential stickiness and sometimes these are in places that are most undefined, such as inside your own head—good to watch out for this! Creating short-term wins is another vital element—got to keep up the celebrations and keep up the credit where credit is due. Declaring victory too soon is another potential cross—we have achieved much but also have much to achieve—good to watch out for the complacency that early success can encourage! And last but not least is not totally embedding the changes into the organization’s culture—interesting for our school—I wonder how others now interpret the school’s vision and what it actually means and what it requires of teachers. Interesting!
Great to be more knowledgeable about change processes—hopefully I won’t make so many blunders in the future!

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