Friday, October 7, 2011

Leading Changes: Sometimes It IS About Being Wrong

Leading change is hard.  Sometimes, though, school leaders think the hard part is finding the better option.

It's not.  Using technology to connect us, finding ideas is very simple.

Some leaders believe creating an original idea is the hard part of leading change.

It is certainly more difficult than trying an idea found through your PLN, but still not insurmountable.  Besides, is your idea truly original or did you simply not do any real researching of other ideas before you began?

In my experience the hardest part is not in finding the better idea or even articulating that idea to your team.  It is the first roadblock that tests your change effort's ability to survive.  It is NOT convincing others that your idea is right.

It is:

Allowing those who were most convinced of the older way to accept that they might be wrong.

You may be saying, "Wait, it doesn't need to be about right and wrong; just different."

Ok, I accept that, but sometimes it IS about right and wrong.  Given what we are learning (and beginning to accept) about how people learn, how they are motivated, and the need to focus on essential skills as well as content, many educators are facing a major paradigm shift.  This is uncomfortable for some.

For example, try to imagine a fictitious school.  The earth was believed to be flat and that is exactly what was being taught.  All of a sudden, a new idea begins to get traction - the world is round, not flat.

Imagine the curriculum committee meetings at that school.

Should we adopt this change?  Can we phase it in over time to ease the pain?  Are their any other schools making this change successfully?  How will teaching this new idea impact enrollment?  What will our donors and trustees think?  Will we all be arrested for making such claims?

It is inevitable that all changes go through the test of challenging others' beliefs, but the basis of those beliefs can add yet another layer of complexity to the challenge.  Generally speaking, these are beliefs based on physical evidence (including valid research and data) and beliefs based on faith (those held without such evidence).

In coming posts, I will explore these two layers of leading changes:  overcoming evidence-based beliefs and overcoming faith-based beliefs.  If you have any insights into either topic, feel free to leave a comment or send me an email.
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