Sunday, January 11, 2015

If you want change, then ignore the outliers...

So, imagine you've got an idea that's going to require change.

This new initiative affects quite a few people within your school or district, and fortunately, there are many folks who've been a part of the planning process, and the overall organization has reached a tipping point.

At this point in the change process, there are three groups of people:

There are folks who are invested in this change as they were a part of it from the inception.

There are also folks who just want to be guided and basically be told what to do as they are the rule followers.

Lastly, there are folks who will oppose any type of change regardless of whether it is good or not.

This type of situation has played out in schools and districts all across the globe countless times, and more often than not, this type of change tends to fail. Either the change never gets off the ground to begin with, or it doesn't endure and fizzles out slowly over the first few months.

I believe these change efforts fail to find success because we get bogged down thinking about, talking about, and worrying about the outlier and the 'exception' situations.

What I mean is once the conversation starts more often than not somebody speaks out about this one type of situation that happened this one time. Then another person speaks out about a situation that 'could' happen but has yet to ever happen before. And then another person remembers a time when this change was tried before and didn't work because it didn't meet the needs of everyone.

Here's what just happened... the conversation of change just died because people couldn't get past the rare outlier type situations that tend to bog us down and prevent us from focusing on the majority of situations that occur.

Specifically, the people who tend to oppose all change often are the outliers and 'exceptions.' And because they focused on the rare and sporadically occurring events, they managed to scare off and convince the folks on the fence to stick with comfort and what's always been done.

So, in closing, when you want successful and enduring change to occur, keep the focus on how this change will affect the majority of people in a majority of the situations. The outlier and unique situations are important, but if you let them become the focal point of the discussion from the beginning, you'll never see the change get off the ground.