Saturday, April 17, 2010

developing change leaders book review of chapter 2

A book review of Paul Aitken and Malcolm Higgs, Developing Change Leaders: The principles and practices of change leadership development. Chapter one here.

Chapter 2 The Challenge of change
This chapter explores the challenge of change. It provides a helpful diagram, linking change to what looks like a grief cycle – shock, anger, resistance, acceptance, hope. As with grief, people need time.

This includes noting the potential of resistance:

“Whilst resistance is generally perceived as being a negative within a change process, it is important to consider that resistance can be an indicator that change is having an impact. Furthermore, it surfaces the key issues and concerns which need to be addressed in order to ensure the effective implementation in the long run. Finally, resistance can play a positive role in surfacing challenge and insights which can prove beneficial in achieving the change goals or indeed discovering more appropriate ones.” (31)

Of course, to respond to resistance in this way, and be able to surface such positive possibilities for a change process requires a fairly unique skillset, far removed from “Well, this is what we have decided.”

It also depends on the approach to change, of which 5 are noted:

  • Directive: the leader’s right to impose change, which has the disadvantage of breeding strong resentment
  • Expert: generally applied to more technical problems, in which a specialist team leads
  • Negotiating: accepts that those involved in the change have the right to a say in how the changes are made. It takes longer, but equally is more likely to last longer
  • Educative: changing people’s hearts and minds. Again, takes longer but is more likely to last
  • Participative: while driven by leaders, all views are considered as change occurs. Again, takes longer but has far greater by in.

They note the shift from linear and programmatic notions, to emergent notions of change, characterised by the appreciation of the entire system, the acceptance that change can start anywhere (and the larger the system, the more likely that large changes begin at the edge), leaders as facilitators instead of drivers of change.

They then analyse over 100 change stories to conclude that change was successful when:

  • it was understood as complex
  • processes were used that genuinely involve people
  • change leaders have the skills to involve people.
Posted by steve at 10:08 AM

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