In the leadership blog, “Lead Change,” the article “Addicted to Change” starts by discussing exactly what the title suggests; leadership is often addicted to continuous change. As indicated by the author, purposeful change begins with why you are changing, but it takes time and a focus on depth for any critical change to be meaningful to the growth of an organization.
Make sure you know why something should change. You will need to remember the why when the going gets tough. And it will get tough.
Give it time.
Give it time to work through all your systems. Big change affects everything. You won’t be able to plan this. You must dive in and discover what’s needed as you go.
Give it more time. Give it time to embed itself in your culture.
Although the title of my blog is “The Principal of Change,” I have been very aware (I still have work to do) of focusing more on the idea of “change” as a concept focused more on depth rather than continuous, surface level changes. In “The Innovator’s Mindset,” I discussed the idea of “Less is More” as crucial to the journey of a school or district, where we focus on fewer things and doing them better. I learned that through my trial and error as an administrator that inundating my staff with overwhelming amounts of choice led to more issues than they solved:
During my first year as a principal, I was pretty excited about all of the opportunities that technology provided my staff. I saw all the awesome websites and tools that were out there and thought we would be crazy not to take full advantage of all of that free stuff. I passed on to my staff anything that I could get my hands on. Twitter supplied countless links with articles about how to make education better, as well as tips and techniques that could be implemented in the classroom right away. I felt it was imperative to share the tips and tweets with my staff; I wanted to light a fire under my team so we could use all those resources and ideas.
The more I shared, the more I noticed how overwhelmed my staff seemed. The more choices I provided them, the less they did with each one. It was too much. I also noticed that the staff members who did embrace everything I shared were only scratching the surface of how these tools and ideas could impact the learning experiences for their students. Our school started to seem “garden variety.” The practice had made us knowledgeable in all but masters of none. This was no one’s fault but my own. I had simply given my team way too many options without a clear focus.
So basically, don’t do what I did. Actually, do the opposite.
Change is not a bad thing if it is done with intentionality and is given time not only to flourish, but we encourage working through the ups and downs of the process. As learning organizations, we need to be comfortable with the discomfort as this is essential to learning. But if we continuously focus on the “next thing,” we will never see the full potential of the “current thing.”