Leading Organizational Change

As part of my coursework in Leading Organizational Change at Lamar University, I explored current leadership theories and practices for digital learning and institutional change in educational systems. Our course learning goal was to equip ourselves to be differentiated leaders who can address the inevitable resistance to change that will occur when launching innovative digital learning initiatives.

Our first step was to identify and articulate the “Why”, which is the key vision or purpose for the change that is required in our organizations and assess the motivation needed to support these changes. I blogged about the process of determining my “Why” and reimagining my innovation plan for my current professional role in higher education. The question of “Why?” is important in change efforts and in learning in general, because this addresses our motivations and the emotions behind them. This “Why?” should be a “hook” that makes the audience more receptive to thinking about change and more accepting to modifying their behaviors. My "Why? What? How?" infographic below reflected the beginnings of an updated innovation plan. 

Blog post: Reimagining my Innovation Plan and the Why?

Our next project was to create an "Influencer strategy", using ideas from the book Influencer: The New Science of Leading Change. My goal was to use this strategy to help implement the innovation plan that I am developing to bring about change in my organization. I identified my organization's influencers, a clear and compelling goal for what I wanted to achieve, the measurements I will use, and assessed the vital behaviours that can be leveraged to bring about change. I further developed the strategy by describing how the six sources of influences will shape the vital behaviors I am trying to encourage. 

Project: Influencer Strategy

My next goal was to implement the ideas from The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals into a "4DX Strategy" for my work team and colleagues that will address how we will implement my innovation plan to bring about change in the learning environment. These four disciplines serve as precise procedures for translating strategy into action at all levels of an organization: the 4DX model will help us avoid the distractions of the institutional whirlwind around us, and focus on implementing an innovation plan in our organizational setting.

Project: 4DX Strategy

Our last topics of study were the ideas of leadership by self-differentiated leaders as discussed in A Failure of Nerve, and effective communication as described in Crucial Conversations. Our learning goal was to examine how to become self-differentiated leaders and initiate crucial conversations so that we could be agents of change in our organizations. With the goal of implementing my innovation plan, I came to realize that an effective leader is also an effective communicator. Being a self-differentiated leader will prepare me to address the inevitable resistance to change that will occur when launching innovations in digital learning, and give me the ability to initiate the crucial conversations that are necessary to start and sustain the process. I need to be equipped with the presence and nerve that helps me determine how and when to best initiate crucial conversations, and keep the lines of communication open to address the emotions and opinions of the other stakeholders who are working to implement the innovation plan within the organization.

Project: Self-differentiated Leadership and Crucial Conversations

While I was aware of many of these leadership concepts and their significance, I now understand their connection to the bigger picture of organizational change, and have developed the language to express them. I created the "Leading Organizational Change" infographic above to illustrate the components of the different leadership concepts, and how they tie together to form an organizational strategy. 
I have come to recognize that a large part of being an innovator is being a leader, and not just a person who has great ideas. Implementing an innovative educational program is not a one person endeavor: it requires a leader who can establish collaboration across an organization. There needs to be a well-defined goal established that is communicated to the stakeholders. As a leader, I need to recognize that all members of my organization share the larger goals of improving student outcomes and serving as an institutional model for innovative learning, but they may not share the same vision for accomplishing these goals; therefore, it is crucial to have them onboard with the process for implementing the plan. The team needs to be prepared for the challenge of implementing a new strategy, and they need to continue making goals and maintaining focus on the outcomes of the innovation plan. With these tools I will be able to be a better leader and a team member, and develop a plan of action that will give me a path to take me from ideas to implementation.

Freidman, E. H. (2007). A failure of nerve: Leadership in the age of the quick fix. New York: Seabury.
Grenny, J., Patterson, K., Maxfield, D., McMillan, R., & Switzler, A. (2013). Influencer: The new science of leading change. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
McChesney, C., Covey, S., & Huling, J. (2012). The 4 disciplines of execution: Achieving your wildly important goals. New York, NY: Free Press.

Patterson, K., Grenny, J., McMillan, R., & Switzler, A. (2002). Crucial conversations: Tools for talking when stakes are high. New York: McGraw-Hill.


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