Monday, October 27, 2014

sticky innovation: making change concrete

Making change stick. It’s one of the challenges of innovation. Finding ways to embed change in the life of your organisation and your systems, so that change lives on. Last week I saw this happen in two different ways, by ritualising and by double-dipping.

First, by ritualising. Last year as our annual Presbytery and Synod approached, I was in a group discussing a separate issue, of how to name a change in our candidate process. Uniting Church ministerial training guidelines, passed in 1997, reviewed and affirmed in 2007, call for a Third Phase of Ministerial Education. It is intended to be period of sustained and intentional mentoring and support for newly ordained ministers during the first three years of ministry practice. In South Australia, this partnership happens through Formation Panels. Nine times in Phase two, five times in Phase three, a group of experienced ministers meet with those in Phase 3, to provide support in transition, to advise in managing time, developing an appropriate work-life balance and doing all those firsts – wedding, funeral, baptism, Easter, AGM, conflict!

Deep relationships form. Then suddenly, the minister has moved to Phase 4. How to honour this change? At the same time, another group I was part of was planning the annual Recognition of Ministry service, in which retiring ministers are thanked and blessed. Why not weave a new ritual into that evening? Why not ask all those transitioning into Phase 4 to stand? Why not celebrate this expression of growth? Why not ask the retiring ministers to bless them?

This week the annual Presbytery and Synod approached again. The order of service from last year was found and the email arrived. “Steve, last year we did something. Can you remember what it was, because it needs to be done again.” And so ritualising, weaving a growth moment, with prayer, into a worship service, had “stuck.”

Second, double-dipping. In May, we introduced a change into our Adelaide College of Divinity graduation service. As each graduand came forward, they were briefly introduced. A few sentences that told where they had come from, what they had studied and where they were going to. This involved a prior brainstorm regarding what we as Faculty knew of the student, followed by a phone call to ensure the student was happy with what would be said. A bit of work. But the feedback was overwhelming. Students felt personalised, the audience felt connected.

Last week, we faced the annual government reporting. It includes a graduate survey, to capture employability. We all grinned. No need do that research, because we already have that data. Sure enough, every single graduation introduction, had the employment data we needed. Double dipping. Using one piece of work twice. It makes the change likely to “stick” because of the value of double dipping.

Making change stick is harder that starting change. But ritualising and double-dipping are all practices which make change concrete.

Posted by steve at 10:22 PM

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