As we look forward to the official launch of the School of Continuing and Online Learning here at Cardinal Stritch, I keep hearing the chorus from the Sheryl Crow song, “A Change Would Do You Good,” play over and over in my head. As we move closer and closer to this work becoming a reality, there are always mixed feelings when you are preparing for change.
It seems like there two “camps” or types of people in how they react to change. One group seems to embrace change and sees it as a necessity to evolve and grow, and the other group seems to want to keep the status quo, leave things as they are, and not rock the boat. As Rick Godwin said, “One reason people resist change is that they focus on what they have to give up, rather than what they have to gain.” There are multiple other reasons people appear to resist change, particularly when change is complex, such as starting starting a new school. Managing change correctly can lead to success. If not managed well, it can lead participants to false starts, frustration, resistance, anxiety, and confusion. As you can see in the Knoster's (1991) model for managing complex change, there are many things to consider. Missing steps along the path to success will cause problems, and in the end will endanger long-term goals and outcomes.
Vision - Creates the big picture and is needed by everyone so they have a sense of where the change is leading them. Without vision, there will be confusion and a lack of direction will take over.
Skills - The need to identify knowledge, expertise, and training to move forward. Without the needed skills, the participant’s anxiety levels will rise and they will have less faith in the process.
Incentives - These can be intrinsic or extrinsic, but people always want to know, “what is in it for me.” These incentives may be additional payments, self-esteem, advancements in the organization, etc. Without participants having some incentive, they will see no reason to change and might become resistant to the process.
Resources - Will extra staffing be needed, new physical resources, support networks, equipment and time given? If the resources are not in place, participants will become frustrated they are not able to make positive change.
Action Plan - When the process is shared and understood, participants know what needs to be done to gain success. Leadership is committed, participants are energized, and everyone is moving forward. Without an action plan, participants feel they are on a treadmill, repeating behavior and wasting time.
Success - Change is successful when a new culture is created. A new way of doing things, and a new way of operating takes place and becomes the norm.
Change is difficult for people. As you can see, there are a lot of factors to consider when managing complex change. Missing any of these factors will cause issues. If you understand what causes these issues and plan for change, you can increase your chances of success greatly. When you manage change successfully, people will call it growth. And after all, wouldn’t a little change do you good?
Knoster, T. (1991). Managing complex change. Proceedings from: TASH Conference. Washington, DC.