4 Planning and leading change

Very often we describe the process of organisational change in a linear fashion, where one stage follows another sequentially. In reality, it is anything but linear. The process is usually described in phases that are not discrete: they are a set of overlapping functions that are constantly reviewed and adjusted during the change process. A detailed analysis of the examples described in Case Studies 1 and 2 would probably reveal changes to the original plan in response to the challenges that were faced.

Decisions about what to change do not always present a clear-cut answer. Focusing on classroom practice, a leading educational theorist Fullan (2007) identified at least three dimensions in implementing a new educational programme. These can include:

  • new or reused teaching and learning resources (including information and communication technology)
  • new teaching approaches or activities
  • alteration of beliefs (e.g. pedagogical assumptions and theories).

These three broad categories are not mutually exclusive: educational change requires a combination of all of them. Regardless of how small the change initiative is in the school environment, your intended outcome is likely to impact both the internal (school) and external context (the immediate community, state, government and other agencies).

As a school leader, the following key factors need to be carefully considered in your planning:

  • You should be ready to explain your rationale for the need for change clearly and concisely to others.
  • You need to be clear about what you intend to do and the outcomes. It is important that you are clear about roles and responsibilities, and exactly what success will look like.
  • Any unnecessary complexity in the process should be removed.
  • You must ensure that the planned change is practical and achievable. You may need to reduce the size, scale or timeframe for the change in order for it to succeed, or split the change idea into smaller tasks.
  • Evaluate the impact of the change – what has changed and by how much?

3 How change happens

5 Leadership approaches