Every week at least one leader tells me that their biggest challenge “is a change management issue.” It’s not surprising that Amazon sells more than 2,000 books about organizational change. Use any one of those books to plan your next initiative, then answer these five questions.
Who is affected by this initiative and what’s in it for them?
For each stakeholder group, make the case for why this change is worth their time, attention, and effort. Focus on the future, not the problem. Create a compelling description of how things will be better. Be honest and specific.
How will decisions be made?
Be clear what level of decision-making you are giving each stakeholder group. Who will make the final decision at each step? Teachers and teams should have as much control and choice as possible. Guidance and guardrails are better than demands and details.
How will you learn as you go?
Think of each step of the project as a prototype, not a pilot. Prototypes allow for testing and refining. If one school completes a training session first and teachers have feedback about it, use the feedback to improve the session at the next school. Mid-course corrections demonstrate trust and responsiveness.
How will you collect and use feedback?
Collect feedback from all stakeholders early and often. Use a blend of 5-point scales, open-ended questions, and opportunities for stakeholders to ask questions. I like weekly, five-item “temperature check” surveys I create on Google Forms. Provide time at each planning meeting for sharing and digesting feedback. Collect feedback anonymously so that people will be honest but show transparency and respect by publicly reflecting it back.
How will you build momentum?
Start building momentum before the initiative is announced. Make the case for change early by asking questions about the status quo and stakeholder needs. Share articles or videos about the topic. Find and celebrate promising practices. When an initiative is announced from a dead stop, people feel that they can argue against it. When successful steps have already been taken, stakeholders feel that they need to catch up to something that is already moving along.
Peter Senge famously said, “People don’t resist change. They resist being changed.” The more voice and choice people have during a change initiative, the less they will feel forced to change and the more likely they are to get onboard.