Friday, April 09, 2010

developing change leaders: book review of chapter 1

While nearly 2000 books were recently written on leadership in an 18 month period, very few address the question:

How do we develop effective change leaders?

Such is the task attempted by business lecturers, Paul Aitken and Malcolm Higgs in their Developing Change Leaders: The principles and practices of change leadership development.

(Given that church’s and church leaders are meant to be into life change, I began to flick through the book. The more I browsed, the more intrigued I was, both by the clarity of the material, and by the extensive reading and practical case studies the author’s draw on. Thinking this might be a good resource, I opened my wallet.)

Aitken and Higgs use a key image, that of “sense-making” to argue that the challenge is not to find some yet to be discovered new golden bullet. Rather the challenge is to make sense of what we know. In chapter one, this focuses on the impact of organisational culture on leadership.

“In broad terms, our framing of effective leadership has shifted notably from the ‘Heroic’, leader-centric viewpoint to a more ‘Engaging’ one which focuses on working with followers to address the leadership of organizational challenges … In today’s complex environment, an approach to leadership which is more ‘Engaging’ appears to offer some useful pointers to more sustainable success.” (13-14, 20).

They suggest leadership is a triangle, made up of thinking, doing and being.

  • thinking is about a range of intelligences – evaluating, decision-making, planning.
  • doing is about the skills and competencies to envision, engage, enable, inquire, develop.
  • being is about authenticity, integrity, will, self-belief and self-awareness.

They then suggest the same triangle for the organisation, in which

  • thinking is in fact strategy
  • doing is policies and practices
  • being is culture, the social glue and the way things are done around here

This introduces the challenges of effective change. Research shows very clear links between an organisations culture and it’s performance. Other research shows that leaders have a strong impact on an organisation’s culture. This sets up chapter 2, which describes the challenges involved in implementing change.

Posted by steve at 07:26 PM

Monday, March 29, 2010

implementing change and the potential of “Migration” days

Thunderbird (which I use for email) has a new software upgrade, planned for mid-April. I know this because they have just announced Migration Day, a 24 hour period when volunteers will provide real-time support to users via a chat room.

Now that’s a simple, yet stunning approach to change management isn’t it?

You know that change is disruptive. You know that people have different timestyles and lifestyles. You know that most people don’t like change. You know that change will be messy. To be honest, you do want to manage that change by encouraging people to kick tires and iron out kinks.

So why not give some time to the actual process of implementation.

A Migration day does this, signaling change, making time for it, providing expert help in it, building community around it.

I can think of so many ways a church or teaching place could use this concept

  • a migration morning when you are introducing a new powerpoint system and the main tech people hang around with great morning tea and people who have been, or who might be interested, are invited to pop in
  • an community open week if a church has a new building project to display. Community given free coffee cards and volunteers to show them around the building, explaining what has happened and how it could effect them, or people they might know.
  • a change in a degree system, so a day in which people can gather to talk about teaching implications, tutoring demands, administrative implications.

Change is disruptive. I’ve seen lots of creative ways put into managing the the decision-making process. But there’s also the actual execution which takes time and effects morale. Migration days could be one highly effective change strategy in this regard.

Posted by steve at 08:02 AM