Change Management Tools

How can school leaders manage change and sustainable development in a constantly changing environment?

Change management is a structured approach to ensure that changes are implemented and embedded in the life of the school, and that the lasting benefits of change are achieved.

This section provides some useful tools that can help you manage change. The focus of these tools is often on the people involved. The change could be a simple and straight forward one or a strategic and systemic one.

Schools often use more than one tool. For example, they may use a systemic change model approach such as Kotter's eight-step change process but then also use a tool that focuses on the people involved in the change such as The Change Curve. Choose the tool you use with care - they all provide ways of helping you structure your thinking but you do not want to become a slave to a process which is not your own.

Understanding Change

Lewin's Force Field Analysis

Kurt Lewin's Force Field Analysis is a powerful tool to use to help you understand what's needed for change. Kurt Lewin wrote that "An issue is held in balance by the interaction of two opposing sets of forces - those seeking to promote change (driving forces) and those attempting to maintain the status quo (restraining forces)".

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Lewin's Change Management Model

Kurt Lewin’s model is a practical way of understanding the change management process. It involves the three steps of unfreezing, changing and refreezing. A simple analogy is if you wish to change a lump of ice into a cone of ice. First you have to refreeze it, then change it and refreeze it. This model helps you see the change as a process with a clear end in mind. First you need to show that a change is needed, then move towards the new desired level of behavior and then embed the new behavior as the norm. Check this site for how to use

Lewin's model is not without its critics: they variously argue that (a) this linear model is too simple for our times which are characterised by constant and rapid change; (b) this model does not take sufficient account of the emotional impact of change on people; (c) the model does not discuss the role of leadership; and (d) it is a western-centric model. These criticisms are clearly described by Daniel Lock Consulting - click HERE to access his clear guide.

Beckhard and Harris's Change Model

This model states that if change is to be managed successfully people need to be dissatisfied with the current situation and want things to change. The solution you are proposing must be desirable, and the change a realistic and practical one. If all three are in place resistance to change can be overcome.

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Implementing Change

Leavitt's Diamond

This tool allows you to look at the potential impact of change on the whole organization (people, task, structure and technology) and describes how you need to plan change in a systemic and not piecemeal way.

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McKinsey's 7-S Framework

This framework identifies seven aspects of an organization that have to be aligned if it is to perform well. Three of these are 'hard' (strategy, structure, systems) and four 'soft' (shared values, skills, style, staff). The framework can be used to understand how each of these elements are related in any form of change process, be it restructuring, new leadership, or new focus.

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Kotter's eight stages of change

In this model Kotter describes eight change management activities that need to be done to effect change, and make it stick in the long term.

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Kotter's eight stages of change is more fully explained on his website

The Change Curve

Change can make some people feel excited but others vulnerable. The change curve helps you understand how people will react to change so that you can help them make their own personal transitions. The change curve describes four stages people go through when they face change. It is a way of identifying the help people need when they are under-going change.

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Evaluating Change

Implementing change in a carefully considered way is as important as the specific change tool you use. Consider using a change management methodology checklist when considering which model to use. An example of one can be found here.

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