stage 6 - renew

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Renew

The process of change is ongoing. It does not end discretely with a single project or a single cycle of activity such as we have outlined in the preceding stages. In this final chapter, the planned change cycle is inserted in the larger context of an on-going change strategy, both for the change agent and for the client system. At the most basic level, there is the possibility of repeating the process, recycling through these same stages with another selected concern or perhaps the same concern now seen in a different light. But now things should be different: the agent, the users, and the client system as a whole should be a little wiser, having come to understand something more of what the change process is all about. What can be done now to codify and internalize this learning so that change can become a continuing thing, a process that is thoroughly internal to the system as a whole? This is what is meant by "RENEWAL here.


Then, finally, where is your own role going now? When and how do you stop working with this client and move on to others?

Stage 6.1 Repeating the Cycle

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Repeating

The most primitive form of renewal is repetition. Now that you and the client system have coursed through one change effort successfully, you should be able to do it again. This time, however, you and they should be able to do it better. You know more about the system and its concerns (Stage 0). You have a better idea of what are really the important concerns and underlying needs, and you probably have a rough sense of their priority, both from your point of view and your clients.

You know each other better and the various members of the system know better how to relate to one another in the context of solving mutual problems (Stage 1) Skills at examining problems and defining them in ways that invite solution are now somewhat honed (Stage 2). Search strategies have been developed to acquire new knowledge and assemble resources that can now be applied to other concerns (Stage 3). Experience and confidence in taking positive action on your first trial have been gained so that the next innovation tried and the next trial effort should be less daunting (Stage 4).


And, having worked on the extension and spread of the first change project, you and your clients may be primed to do the same and better for a next project, expanding the innovation and its effects to more users over a longer period of time (Stage 5)



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Stage 6.2 Improving the Process

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To be able to repeat the same process is a laudable achievement in itself. However, we should aim to improve the process each time we repeat the cycle. "Improvement" can mean a number of things including any of the following:


  • to include more people as participants in the change process
  • to work on tougher problems
  • to work on concerns that affect more people more deeply
  • to complete the cycle more quickly
  • to complete the cycle at less cost, measuring "cost" any number of ways, not just dollar cost, but effort cost, person-hour cost, disruptive cost, etc.
  • to achieve outcomes that provide:
    • more benefits, more certainty, to more people.

To improve the process we have to look with a critical eye at what we have done in the first round, and then we have to take deliberate steps to change how things are done during the second round and subsequent rounds. Thus, there is: 


  • the requirement that we evaluate what has been done,
  • that we take a retrospective look at the various steps along the way,
  • that we go through a redesign exercise, and finally
  • that we reach out to include more members of the system as active participants.

EVALUATION

The term "evaluation" conjures up a lot of ideas that change agents will view with varying degrees of skepticism, and perhaps even loathing. One image is of a college professor with a lot of questionnaires and observational tools, bearing down on the poor innovator, noting the smallest error. Indeed, some evaluations are commissioned with the hope that the resulting data will consign the whole project to the trash can. Thus, evaluators, far from being the friends of change, can be its enemies. Certainly premature evaluations, evaluations based on unrealistic expectations, and evaluations commissioned for suspect motives by administrators hostile to either the aims or the means or the actors in a change project all fit in that category. Nevertheless, some form of evaluation is essential to self-improvement and self-renewal. In this section we should review what such evaluations might look like.


Consider first of all the types or levels of evaluation that are possible. As an example, at the high end is the designed experiment with change effort sites and "controls" (i.e., "no change effort" sites), and random assignment of "subjects," which could mean students, classrooms, schools, or even, in theory, whole districts. Only this type of evaluation actually yields data that meet the most rigorous criteria of scientific knowledge. But for better or for worse, educational settings can very rarely be so neatly ordered. The logistics are mind-boggling and the costs out of sight. Even so, this type of evaluation is worth mentioning because any evaluation that fails to meet this standard can be faulted and hence dismissed by experts trained in academic science. Thus, any hostile administrator or school board can kill virtually any project, however worthy, on such "scientific" grounds. Change agents should have enough knowledge and awareness of the experimental models and methods to counter such criticisms on the basis of the gross impracticality and inappropriateness of such evaluations in almost all educational change settings.


Next down the ladder is the quasi-experiment in which outcomes are measured in quantitative terms and the change settings are "matched" with other settings comparable on key dimensions. Even here the costs are high. There must be involvement of university trained experts and both the "outcomes" measures and the "matching" process are always controversial e.g., have we matched on the appropriate dimensions? Was there bias in the selection process? Are any two educational settings really matchable? Are really important outcomes measurable? and so on). The quasi-experiment is also fairly rare among change projects unless there is substantial involvement from either the federal government or a university or both. Many of the innovations available to change agents such as those identified in the Catalogue of the National Diffusion Network, Educational Programs That Work, 1995, have been through such a process and have passed muster as innovations with "validated" outcomes, provided that you follow exactly the same process as used by the developers. On the other hand, it is unlikely that you and your district, operating in 2015 and beyond, will have comparable resources at your disposal. Thus, while such projects are worthy of trial in other settings, their evaluative strategy is not likely to be one which you can copy.


More modest field projects evolving spontaneously, with or without the aid of trained change agents, should aim for evaluation strategies which are tailored to their specific needs, most especially the need for self-improvement through successive change efforts. The minimum level is merely documentation, i.e., recording in summary form what you have been doing, preferably as you are doing it. You go to see someone? ... write down who you saw, when, why, and what happened as a result. You had a meeting? ... ditto. your group drew up a plan? ... save a copy. You did such and such to build relationships? ... note what was done. You examined the problem diagnostically? ... note who was involved and what they came up with. You searched for and acquired resources? ... where did you search? ... what did you find? All these very simple details add up to a narrative of what happened. The credibility of the narrative is in the details. Note that he Change Model can help you develop such a narrative by providing the categories of activity that are relevant through the model of "stages."


You will also want to assess and record outcomes in some fashion, both for your own uses and to show others that the project "works." Standardized test results on student performance are always impressive and persuasive with some audiences, but such measures may be grossly inappropriate for your project, even when they are attainable. Measured outcomes defined in behavioral terms tied to your original objectives can also be impressive evidence for those outsiders who take the time to study what you have done rather closely. For the more casual observer or the busy administrator, however, well chosen anecdotes can sometimes be just as persuasive and more readily absorbed and remembered than carefully assembled quantitative data.


Choose an evaluation plan that is appropriate both to your objectives and to the size and scope of your project. Formal evaluations can be costly and potentially disruptive if not done well and on a scale proportionate to your overall effort. A large project deserves a significant evaluative sub-project with its own budget, 5-10% of the total, and its own independent and qualified project director. It should attempt to quantify both process and outcomes, but measures should be agreed to in advance between the evaluator and the project leadership. The evaluator should also be required to issue a report with recommendations for continuance and specific modifications. Specific implications should be spelled out for change agents, administrators, teachers, or others who will be responsible for continuing, expanding, and redesigning the effort.


A small project requires only a conscientious effort at observation and note-taking by the change agent or a colleague close to the project and sympathetic to its objectives. The same categories of process and outcome should be recorded but in simpler form. "Data" can be in the form of estimates as well as anecdotes. As with a large project there should be a written report but it can be in the form of "notes to ourselves." The purpose should be renewal, i.e., guidance on what to do on the next round, how to improve and extend what we have done, and how to generate greater impact.


Whether large or small scale, outcomes assessment should extend beyond the ac­counting of planned and expected outcomes. Evaluators should always be on the lookout for unanticipated outcomes, positive and negative. What does the project do for the morale of the group? To what extent is it seen as something disruptive or exciting? Does it change attitudes or choices? Are there effects on non-participants? on parents? on community? on administrators? Sometimes these non-anticipated outcomes can be reason enough to continue (or to kill) a project. They may also yield valuable clues to what the next project should be.


Retrospection

Gathering up whatever you have in the way of evaluations, you should now look back at what happened and consider the implications for renewal and for re-c-r-e-a-t-e-ing the process. It is good to take some time out for this step, simply to think through what has happened, step by step. The stages of the Change Model can be very useful as a framework for doing this and the questions to put for each stage are:


  • How much time and effort was devoted to this stage?
  • Was it enough or too much?
  • Was this process or sub-process executed successfully?
  • If not, what could we have done to make it better?
  • Would more planning or a better plan have led to more success?

Jot down notes on your reflections, and if there are important others who acted in change agent roles or participated in the process, ask them to do the same.

Then set aside some specific time to go over the notes and discuss them with others if possible. Also go over the written evaluation (if there is one) and bring in the evaluator (if someone was so designated) for more discussion of what the evaluation means and what its implications are.

Redesign of the process

Your retrospective analysis now puts you in position to redesign and recreate the change process for the next round. This is "renewal" in the most elementary sense. Your redesign may involve adding more steps, making the process more complex, less complex, more acceptable, more doable, etc.

IMPOSING MORE STRUCTURE

Such redesign may simply be a matter of making the process a little more coherent and orderly. The first time around you may have simply "gone with the flow" or done what seemed possible and practical as you went along without much forward planning and without organizing your effort into any kind of stages. This is fine; the good change agent is a realist and a pragmatist, always practicing the art of the possible. However, the redesign is an opportunity to become more organized, perhaps to apply the Change Model or some other source to the actual activities in real time. Thus, you may want to add steps that were ignored on the first round or expand steps that were slighted.

CUTTING STEPS, SHORTENING STEPS (STREAMLINING)

At the other extreme you may decide that you have been too orderly, following a lock­step scheme that sometimes got in your way. The change agent certainly has to be opportunistic and pragmatic, and a plan that is too tight or too detailed may also be counter­productive. The desire to streamline the process and make everything more efficient may tempt the change agent to cut certain people or groups out of the process. This can be dangerous if it leads to people feeling they have been left out. Thus, as you go about streamlining, make sure you stay connected to all the people who were involved in the first round unless it is clear that they want out of the process. Furthermore, if someone really does "want out," you had better find out why as part of your evaluation and retrospective.

STRENGTHENING SKILLS

Part of the first round of evaluation should be a consideration of whether you or key members of your team have the requisite skills in different areas, e.g., in diagnosis, relating to others, acquiring new knowledge. Are there ways to strengthen weak skill areas or bring on new team members with such skills?

ADDING RESOURCES

Probably no change project ever has enough resources to do it completely right, but given fiscal realities, etc., are there ways you can add to resources on the second round? Can more people be encouraged to volunteer their time? Are there other spaces that can be used for the project? Are there special funds or grants that might be available if the project is tilted in a certain way?
 

Reaching out for a more inclusive process

Of all the things that might be done to make the second round more successful than the first, the inclusion of more people has to be at the top of the list. As we have noted over and over again, change is largely a people process, informing people, getting people better connected to each other, getting people concerned and committed to change, and getting them to work toward a common goal. Much of your first round activity involved getting to know the system and getting acquainted with members, hopefully including the key movers and shakers.
 

SPOTTING THE KEY PERSONS AND GROUPS

Now as you prepare for the second round you should have a better definition of who the key people are, as well as the innovators, the opinion leaders, the resisters, and the other stakeholders. Some of these people may have been involved in the first round but many others probably were not. In fact, you may only have come to realize who some of them were as you wrap up the first round, attempting to extend the innovation.


CREATING SPECIAL EVENTS TO BRING PEOPLE INTO THE PROCESS

The most obvious way to start widening the circle is to involve more people in the redesign effort, starting with the retrospective as discussed above. Consider the need to have special time set aside and special events to bring this off. It could be a review conference at which opinions and observations are elicited, perhaps employing some of the brainstorming rules discussed in Stage 4. The size and shape of such a meeting should be tailored to the size and scope of the anticipated second round activity.


USING MEDIA TO INCREASE SENSE OF INCLUSIVENESS ACROSS GROUPS

To include more people we must extend the lines of communication; we must use the media that are used by the people we want to reach. Something has already been said on this subject under Stage 5 "Extending", but there are still a few points which should be added. First of all, consider your choice of media to invite greater inclusion in the change process. There are at least four considerations here:


  • size of the group we want to reach;
  • geographic dispersion and cultural diversity of this group;
  • the types of media these groups are tuned in to; and
  • the appropriateness of such media for conveying the types of messages we want to convey.


The front line of media for local reach-out, especially to specialized audiences, is a digital message serving this audience, e.g., an identified database of users or participants, social media. If everybody reads it or some part of it, that is where you want to place the stories on what you have done, and that is where you want to solicit interest and recruit new members for the change effort.


There is also a place for some types of mass media presentations of the change message. These may be announcements or general interest articles. Even though such items may be aimed at the general population, they will undoubtedly spark special interest and even action among innovators who are so disposed. Such general interest messages can also be prepared for digital formats, which not only make them presentable on radio and television broadcasts, but also make them  available for  YouTube, which can be used in much more targeted efforts which can be repeated over and over again to the same or different audiences.


In reaching out for a more inclusive set of supporters within the system, remember three important rules of communication:


  • never rely on only one medium to get the message across;
  • never rely on only one message or one type of message; and
  • never rely on a message delivered only at one time and in one place.


In other words, you must respect the individual differences, habits, preferences, and schedules of different members of the system, all of whom may become your supporters and advocates for change.



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Stage 6.3 Keeping the Change Fresh

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It is important to maintain the vitality of the change effort, to sustain and increase the energy investments of the key players and to preserve the sense that something new and important is happening. We can do this in a number of ways, among them;


  • bringing in new blood,
  • being sensitive to and responsive to changes in the local environment,
  • being continuously open to redefine the boundaries of the system,
  • being continuously open to redefine the nature of the concern,
  • being always on the alert for new resources and knowledge sources, and
  • being always ready to reshape and repackage the innovation.



BRING IN NEW BLOOD
When we include more people in the process, we raise the likelihood that a new set of actors will be in the second and subsequent rounds. This is mostly to the good, provided there are still enough first round players still around to maintain continuity of learning.


RESPOND TO CHANGES IN THE LOCAL ENVIRONMENT

Times have changed since you first arrived on the scene. Some key roles have been filled by different people. There may have been political, economic, or social changes unrelated to what you are doing which have nevertheless changed the atmosphere and the willingness to take risks for better or worse.


BE OPEN TO REDEFINE THE BOUNDARIES OF THE SYSTEM

Your initial definition of who the client was may have been too limited. The boundaries of "system" are always somewhat arbitrary. We tend to limit "system" boundaries to what we can comprehend or what we can realistically deal with at a given point in time. With experience, we come to recognize the initial "system" as something embedded in something larger. How much of that larger "thing" we chose now to include in our redefined system is also arbitrary, but the decision is an important one because it defines the limits and dimensions of the change effort. Redefining the system is always an enlightening exercise and is one way we can keep the change effort fresh.


BE OPEN TO REDEFINE THE NATURE OF THE CONCERN

Now replay Stage O. Reconsider what the real concerns of this system are. Are the levels of concern the same as they were in your prior analysis? Are the priorities different? Does redefining the system change the nature, priority, and levels of concern?


BE ON THE ALERT FOR NEW RESOURCES AND KNOWLEDGE SOURCES

As you have worked through the stages of change in the first project you should have become aware of many resources that you were not using. Which of these might now be accessible for an expanded and renewed change effort?


BE READY TO RESHAPE AND REPACKAGE THE INNOVATION

If your second round effort is going to continue in the same general direction as the first, building directly on what you have done, you should not be locked in to presenting the innovation in the same way. In all of our sample change case studies, there were lessons learned about how to present the innovation differently if given a second chance. There are hot button words that should not be used or redefinitions of what you are trying to do that will have more appeal to particular stakeholders.

Stage 6.4 Creating a Self-Renewal Capacity

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Renewal Capacity

A great deal of what has been said so far in this Stage contains an implicit message: clients can and should learn to be change agents for themselves. You, as the starting change agent, should be able to teach them how to do this or at least show them the way. This is the key to "self-renewal." A self-renewing client system will have to have four built-in features:


  • a positive attitude toward innovation in general;
  • an internal subsystem with a specific change-advancement mission;
  • an active inclination to seek external resources; and
  • a perspective on the future as something to plan for.

A POSITIVE ATTITUDE TOWARD INNOVATION

The reason that many "successfully adopted" innovations seem to fade and disappear in time is that the systems which adopted those innovations failed to fully incorporate innovative norms and attitudes which are fundamental to innovative behavior. Consider the history of your clients in this regard. Are they typically on the forefront of new developments in education? Do they seem to look forward to change as potential improvement rather than potential threat?

If you answer these questions in the negative, then the major issue becomes: "How can I instill an innovative attitude?" Adequate answers to this question are hard to come by but there are some partial answers.

  • First, make the positive results of innovating as visible as possible.
  • Second, provide as many secondary rewards, praise, financial aid, recognition of achievement, as possible to people in the client system who do innovate.
  • And, third, encourage and assist the innovators in becoming more influential and in assuming more leadership.

AN INTERNAL SUBSYSTEM WITH A SPECIFIC CHANGE-ADVANCEMENT MISSION

It was not until after World War II that a number of large corporations decided they should have their own research departments to do advance planning and design on new products. These early "R & D" units were the first attempt to create a change agency within the organization, a group of people who were supposed to work on innovation as a full-time job. Through the 1960s and 70s this idea caught on across many types of organizations, including school districts, so that "research departments" became an accepted part of many systems. Unfortunately, however, such units were not typically given either the freedom or the resources to experiment extensively with change/innovation projects, and as budgets were tightened these units came to have more and more restricted missions. Nevertheless, where vestiges of such institutions remain we have the possibility of developing or recreating internal change agencies. Such agencies or sub-agencies can then become the home base of continuing change and system self-renewal activities.


A subsystem for innovation ideally should incorporate such features as:


  • full-time change agents or consultants who understand the innovation process and can work easily with other members of the client system
  • built-in competence to train all members of the client system in the skills of identifying concerns, building relationships, examining needs, retrieving resources, and selecting and implementing changes.


A fully developed change agency, has all these features and more. We doubt that most change agents will be able to bring together all the resources, but at a minimum, a self-renewing system should be one that includes some sort of structural entity, e.g., an office, a part-time staff member, a budget line item, etc., especially set aside for innovation

AN ACTIVE INCLINATION TO SEEK EXTERNAL RESOURCES

"Innovativeness" cannot simply be viewed as a passive receptivity to new ideas. Self­renewing systems are habitually aggressive in seeking out new solutions. They have an active faith that outside resources will be useful and a willingness to walk the extra mile to get them. Rural sociologists discovered a long time ago that innovative farmers took more trips to town. They were more "cosmopolite," willing and able to go outside their immediate environment. The same is true for educators.


If your clients have a habit of visiting other systems, attending all sorts of meetings and training programs, they will keep coming home like Marco Polo, bringing all kinds of new ideas and new products to their colleagues.


There are many ways in which the change agent can encourage an external orientation in the client system. Above all, you can encourage and facilitate the use of social media,  travel and outside visiting. The important thing is to get clients used to the idea that digitally networking, visiting and conferencing are not only legitimate but also enjoyable activities. Developing this cosmopolite orientation is a good reason for taking the time to set up site visits and demonstrations away from home. What your clients learn about the specific innovation may turn out to be less important in the long run than the fact that they got out of their rut and began looking at the rest of the world.

A PERSPECTIVE ON THE FUTURE AS SOMETHING TO PLAN

A self-renewing system believes in progress. It believes that things can be better in the future, especially if we plan for the future carefully and conscientiously. This means developing a capacity to forecast community needs and desires five and ten years hence. It also means setting aside time and resources to think about the future and to draw up tentative programs to meet future needs.


This sort of planning is not simply an intellectual exercise or a pleasant escape into science fiction. On the contrary, a perspective on the future helps us to put the present in focus and may suggest things that we can do today that we would not have thought of in other, more timebound contexts. 



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Stage 6.5 Passing on the Process

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INSTALLING THE CHANGE FUNCTION IN AN ORGANIZATION

Overview of how transfer works

The first project represents a new system unto itself, albeit a very temporary system, surviving on the margins. As a system it has at least four distinct properties:


  • an authority, usually very circumscribed, which provides legitimacy on a temporary basis to proceed with some kind of change effort;
  • a set of resources or resource commitments from the larger system or from some outside source;
  • a set of roles with persons designated to fill those roles; the roles represent sets of activities or functions that are required to complete the change tasks and sub-tasks; and
  • a set of connectors or an integration scheme which represents how the roles go together, how resources are distributed, and how the roles relate to each other and to the larger system it is trying to assist.

When the individual project ends, all these elements are under threat of extinction. If the project is generally deemed a failure this may well happen, but if any of the interested parties believe that it should be continued or that change activities somehow based on this activity should continue, then they will begin to direct their efforts toward reconstituting these elements, first for a second round, then for subsequent rounds, and eventually, perhaps, for a fully on-going process which is now internal to the larger system and in every sense an inseparable part of that system.


Full transfer of the change function, if it happens at all, only happens gradually, through a series of developments, which could be called "stages." These stages are similar in many ways to the stages of acceptance of innovations described throughout the Guide, especially in Stage 0 and Stage 5; but to say that there are identifiable "stages" is not to deny that there are also likely to be fits and starts and random discontinuities which may sometimes push the process forward unexpectedly and other times bring it to a screeching halt. It is never certain and it is very difficult to plan or orchestrate. Nevertheless, some thought to how it might be moved forward is worth the effort, so with that caveat about unpredictability, which applies to the whole change process, of course, let us move on to consider how the originating change agent might assist in the internalization of the change function.


Some authors have likened this acceptance process to the stages of socialization that individuals of all cultures must go through to be accepted as adults.


 Another way of looking at it is the Lewinian paradigm of "unfreezing," "moving," and "refreezing". If an innovation is going to become a real and lasting part of the system going forward,  each of the four necessary ingredients identified above will have to be given more substance and more permanence. In other words, there has to be:


6.5.1 An ongoing authority or sanction to change:

6.5.2  Credible commoiittments to provide resources on a continuing basis

6.5.3  Acceptance by the larger system of the new change agent roles; and

6.5.4  An acceptance of the schema of interconnections that help define the change system and its relationship to the larger system.

Stage 6.5.1 Regenerating The Authority

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ACQUIRING LONG-TERM LEGITIMACY

"Authority" for change can come from many sources. "Mandates" of all sorts have been popular with politicians in the last 40 years because of the belief that change or the appearance of change can be brought about without public expenditure. Public education has been seen as an easy target for mandates, i.e., “No Child Left Behind”, because of its relatively low power and the generally low esteem with which it is held by the general public. Such mandates often work, at least as a catalyst for change, but there are also many drawbacks including heightened resistance to change. No change agent wants to be seen as the police or even as the agent of a policing authority. If that authority is seen as relatively remote and unable to enforce its mandates, the foot in the door provided by that authority may be nearly useless, especially when it comes to the second round. Thus, one important task in moving toward renewal is to localize the authority basis of the change activity. This means gaining support from the local school board, the superintendent, the principal or principals, and even the teachers to the extent that they have authority over the sphere of the classroom.


It is also important to move away from mandates as the basis of legitimacy as soon as possible. In other words, try to go from mandates to voluntary acceptance and from acceptance on to commitment and embracement of specific changes and the change process in general.


We have spent considerable time discussing consensus building throughout the Guide: reaching out, including more people, getting more people to participate in decision making, and so forth. The reason to spend so much time and effort on such things is the need to broaden and strengthen the authority for change activity, starting with the invitation to be there in the first place and going on to the point where the system has embraced a change philosophy and an on-going, workable, self­-renewing capacity.



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Stage 6.5.2 Recommitting Resources

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Real change requires resource commitment, first from some temporary source, perhaps, but eventually from dependable continuing sources, usually local sources. "Resources" means money, certainly, but also it means people, space, and time. All of these items have a calculable price tag even if they are "donated" and there will always be some resistance to providing them. 


There is a very large difference in the way resources are viewed for short-term versus long-term commitments. The shorter the commitment, the easier the resources are to come by; the longer the commitment, the tougher the acquisition is going to be. Innovation, i.e., doing anything new, requires untethered, uncommitted resources, i.e., resources not committed to any other purpose. Consider the various ways in which such resources might come into being.


Resources could be donated from outside the system, either from a private foundation, a government, or even an individual. Such resources tend to be small; the donor typically has a short-term interest; requires that the activity supported be clearly new and innovative; and usually has an ulterior motive. Thus, they are most suitable for new start-ups, especially with high visibility, not for second generation efforts or attempts to transfer or install the change process as such. The ulterior motive is usually to demonstrate a principle or an ideology and to set an example for others to follow, i.e., "seed" money for the "pilot" project. If the external resources are money from a government source, there are likely to be all kinds of strings attached including a requirement that the project show success and demonstrate that it can be carried on later without more or continuing government resources.


Resources could be donated or volunteered from individuals or organizations within the community. Some of the same strictures apply to local support. They want to have impact quickly in a way that reflects well on themselves. They want to contribute to something that is new and that will later be picked up by others.  There is a crucial difference, however, between locally donated resources and remote external resources: the local donors care about you because you are part of their world, Stage 0, "Caring", and they will continue to be there and to care after the initial effort is over and done with.


 
Resources could be provided from the budget of the system. This is the toughest source of resources for innovation, especially for school districts, who are perennially pressed to tighten their budgets and to earmark all funds for the most "necessary" expenditures. Nevertheless, the school budget is the only place where the resources are going to come from in the long run for anything that is going to last. The funds for reform start with the school budget because they will have to end there anyway, and if they start there, there is a clearer system commitment from the beginning.


Yet, how do we get resources for change from the always tight budgets we see typically in business, government, and school districts across the country? Believe it or not, there are some ways! First of all, we can look to under-utilized resources such as space that is vacant part of the day. There may also be resources, which are potentially dual use. Most role and function definitions in a system have some amount of vagueness or looseness, which may allow an innovative activity to slip in. There are also mandates, outside authority, which may compel the local system to do "something" in a particular area which can then be interpreted as fitting the innovative project. Even without official mandates there can be implied mandates, i.e., concerns that are so obvious or so pressing that the system leadership feels bound to shake loose some resources. All systems must have some amount of resources set aside for general purposes to meet unexpected situations. Such resources may be very limited but they are there, nevertheless. Gaining access to such resources represents a major challenge to the change agent and to the supporters of the change.


There are many barriers to getting on board the regular budget. The system's accountants and auditors may act as finance gatekeepers.


The political leadership always hates to ask for new taxes to pay for anything, and the administrators don't want to cut anything else to make way for something new unless there is a clear advantage not just in terms of student learning but to themselves and their situation. Generally, they don't want to do anything that will make trouble with the unions. There is always a cost to changing the system; when you ask permission to play around with something new with a little money from somewhere else there is minimal threat; the more you ask for a share of the system's own on-going resources the more you threaten the system as it is.


Sooner or later:
The change must become an item of the regular annual budget! 



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Stage 6.5.3 Solidifying New Roles

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Real change requires resource commitment, first from some temporary source, perhaps, but eventually from dependable continuing sources, usually local sources. "Resources" means money, certainly, but also it means people, space, and time. All of these items have a calculable price tag even if they are "donated" and there will always be some resistance to providing them. 

There is a very large difference in the way resources are viewed for short-term versus long-term commitments. The shorter the commitment, the easier the resources are to come by; the longer the commitment, the tougher the acquisition is going to be. Innovation, i.e., doing anything new, requires untethered, uncommitted resources, i.e., resources not committed to any other purpose. Consider the various ways in which such resources might come into being.

Resources could be donated from outside the system, either from a private foundation, a government, or even an individual. Such resources tend to be small; the donor typically has a short-term interest; requires that the activity supported be clearly new and innovative; and usually has an ulterior motive. Thus, they are most suitable for new start-ups, especially with high visibility, not for second generation efforts or attempts to transfer or install the change process as such. The ulterior motive is usually to demonstrate a principle or an ideology and to set an example for others to follow, i.e., "seed" money for the "pilot" project. If the external resources are money from a government source, there are likely to be all kinds of strings attached including a requirement that the project show success and demonstrate that it can be carried on later without more or continuing government resources.


Resources could be donated or volunteered from individuals or organizations within the community. Some of the same strictures apply to local support. They want to have impact quickly in a way that reflects well on themselves. They want to contribute to something that is new and that will later be picked up by others.  There is a crucial difference, however, between locally donated resources and remote external resources: the local donors care about you because you are part of their world, Stage 0, "Caring", and they will continue to be there and to care after the initial effort is over and done with.

Resources could be provided from the budget of the system. This is the toughest source of resources for innovation, especially for school districts, who are perennially pressed to tighten their budgets and to earmark all funds for the most "necessary" expenditures. Nevertheless, the school budget is the only place where the resources are going to come from in the long run for anything that is going to last. The funds for reform start with the school budget because they will have to end there anyway, and if they start there, there is a clearer system commitment from the beginning.

Yet, how do we get resources for change from the always tight budgets we see typically in business, government, and school districts across the country? Believe it or not, there are some ways! First of all, we can look to under-utilized resources such as space that is vacant part of the day. There may also be resources, which are potentially dual use. Most role and function definitions in a system have some amount of vagueness or looseness, which may allow an innovative activity to slip in. There are also mandates, outside authority, which may compel the local system to do "something" in a particular area which can then be interpreted as fitting the innovative project. Even without official mandates there can be implied mandates, i.e., concerns that are so obvious or so pressing that the system leadership feels bound to shake loose some resources. All systems must have some amount of resources set aside for general purposes to meet unexpected situations. Such resources may be very limited but they are there, nevertheless. Gaining access to such resources represents a major challenge to the change agent and to the supporters of the change.


There are many barriers to getting on board the regular budget. The system's accountants and auditors may act as finance gatekeepers.


The political leadership always hates to ask for new taxes to pay for anything, and the administrators don't want to cut anything else to make way for something new unless there is a clear advantage not just in terms of student learning but to themselves and their situation. Generally, they don't want to do anything that will make trouble with the unions. There is always a cost to changing the system; when you ask permission to play around with something new with a little money from somewhere else there is minimal threat; the more you ask for a share of the system's own on-going resources the more you threaten the system as it is.


Sooner or later:
The change must become an item of the regular annual budget! extremely awkward and uncomfortable. There will be a tendency to deny the existence of the new subsystem, to continue to act as if everybody is doing what they were doing before. Signs of this will appear in people not showing up for meetings, failure to put out announcements and insert agenda items into meetings, using the wrong names or giving out wrong or misleading information about the new activity, and so forth. The change team is thus always struggling to set these "mistakes" right, reminding people of who they are and what they are trying to do.


In the first cycle of change activity such forms of resistance, while annoying, may seem relatively trivial, but after the first cycle and as you move toward the development of an internalized change function, role definitions, designations, duties, and reciprocal expecta­tions need to be clarified and accepted by an ever-widening circle of actors in the parent system. This means writing down what the roles and arrangements are, discussing them with key actors in the parent system and getting consensus on labels, designations, and their meanings. An important part of this is deciding where something belongs: what department it goes in; who reports to whom; what offices or other spaces they occupy; and when and how they get reviewed.


Labels can be very important. Be careful not to pick labels that confuse what you are trying to do with some other type of activity. Be careful not to pick labels which might be red flags to one or another constituency (the term "change agent" might, in fact, be a red flag to some).


Training can also be an important part of the role solidification process. Training for role holders gives them images of what they are supposed to be and an opportunity to practice new role behaviors in a protected environment. For designated change agents and specialists in change process there needs to be specific training in the process of change. Training of some sort would also be desirable for other members of the system who will have significant relationships with the new change unit.



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Stage 6.5.4 Reconfiguration and Integration

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The new change unit is like a new wing on a house. There has to be a blueprint for how it fits into the larger structure. Where it connects and in what ways must be clearly shown, then these connections have to be authorized and agreed to, then the new relationships have to be tried out and redesigned; and practiced and practiced. There are innumerable connections, both formal and informal, that have to be made and then strengthened before the new unit is truly an integral part of the old system. This takes time. It also takes redundant effort and a persistent will on the part of those who want to make the change renewable or permanent.


There are many types of actions that represent this solidification of status and integration into the system. We list a few of these as suggestive.

Standing committees (vs. ad hoc committees)

The original change effort may have been sanctioned or monitored by an ad hoc committee of representatives of the system, perhaps appointed initially by the superintendent or some other high official. As this group continues to meet, the question will arise as to whether it should receive more official and permanent status. If the initial efforts have been successful, any moves to extend the life of this group will be supportive of integration.

Annualized activities

Anniversaries are extremely important in the integration of new elements of a system. Each succeeding anniversary represents an achievement and a shift from "temporary" towards "permanent" status.

New responsibilities defined in writing and shared

As roles and functions representing the new elements become clarified, they get written down, and then they get shared around, amended perhaps to conform better with what the larger system wants or can live with.

New connections and lines of communication and authority

Any new connections that can be made between elements representing the change effort and elements belonging to the host system will be positive steps toward integration. Such connections are myriad, including shared or adjacent quarters, talking and exchange of greetings between members, etc. The more frequent and the more routine these connections become, the more de facto integration there will be.

New units, new offices

Any sustained innovative effort needs a home, a place to call its own, a place where it can build its identity, where it can strengthen its internal connections and plan and prepare for each and every new attempt to move the larger system. Sooner or later this means that the "project" must become some sort of unit or office, and that unit must be recognized by the larger system for what it is. Thus, while the unit with its special place facilitates much greater internal connectedness within the team, it must also build multiple connections to key units and elements of the larger system. Isolation can be prelude to erasure. There is a progression:
                  Out of sight  >>  Out of mind  >>  Out!



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Stage 6.5.5 Orchestrating the Pass-On Process

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Detail your services

When all is said and done, we have to ask, how much influence can an individual change agent have on this overall process? The answer probably is: not a great deal unless you are very highly placed in the system to begin with. Even then you can be swiftly overtaken by events and circumstances quite beyond your control. Michael. Fullan, a long-time observer of change projects in Canada and many other countries, drives home this point in his book. Having conceded the point, the countering argument that we would make here is that knowledge of what the total process might look like is helpful in several ways in guiding the process to the extent that one can, intervening at strategic points when opportunities arise, and knowing perhaps when to stay out of it entirely.


Undoubtedly, there is a flow to the affairs of all organizations which allows for some types of innovation at some times and none whatsoever at other times. For example, there will always be times of special concern about budgets when everyone is asked to tighten belts, cut costs, remove staff, etc. As long as these times of stringency last it will be difficult to put forward any significant change efforts unless these deal specifically with budget cutting. Even in the case of these special economy innovations, it will be difficult to initiate changes because everyone is so busy defending what they have now. How often have we heard that "the last hired is the first fired." This principle of fiscal stringency applies to all kinds of new things besides people and certainly applies to change projects and change sub-systems and is the enemy of all efforts to extend and renew the change process.

 

However, these fiscal stringency campaigns have a life cycle of their own; they wax and wane, and when they are on the wane, there is an opportunity for change efforts to reassert themselves once more. Thus, the change agent must be able to feel the pulse of the larger system, sensing the changing levels of tension among members, the ups and down of levels of concern for issues related to the change process, always on the lookout for the right moment. This is what we mean by having a good sense of timing. In other words, the effective change agent is a pragmatist, always practicing the art of the possible while keeping the longer range goals of change in view. The change agent must be able to identify the "magic moments" when forward movement and acceptance of new ways of doing things is possible. The other side of this coin is being able to play the waiting game in the sometimes long periods between these magic moments. Know when and where to place your bets, when to act and not to act.



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Stage 6.6 Transforming From "Item" Change to "System" Change

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Throughout most of the Guide we have discussed change as if it were a discrete phenomenon, an activity or a set of behaviors or artifacts that can be added to a system to make it work better or achieve more. This is a useful way to look at change, especially at the beginning, because it allows us to isolate specific steps and stages and to lay down some rules of behavior that will guide the would-be change agent through clear benchmarks and on to a definable point of success. It is also true that merely by adding discrete innovations to a system we are probably improving the system as a whole. Yet there will come a time when we should turn our attention away from these specific innovative projects and toward the goal of changing the system as a whole in more fundamental ways. This is a more radical goal and perhaps a more dangerous one, but we should not conclude the Guide without addressing these larger issues of system change.

Getting to more fundamental concerns

REPRISE OF STAGE 0 AND STAGE 2 AT A SYSTEM-SHAKING LEVEL

System change happens when the people of a system get down to dealing with the most fundamental concerns that they have as individuals and groups. Yet it is exceptionally difficult to get people to really take a serious look at what is wrong with the way they are. It is difficult for at least four reasons.


  • First of all, the fundamental concerns are large; perhaps to many they may seem overwhelming.
  • Second, these concerns will often be characterized as intractable, ingrained, almost by definition not subject to change.
  • Third, trying to deal with these fundamental concerns probably will involve displacement of vested interests.
  • Fourth, because they are fundamental concerns, it is often hard to be honest about them, to admit failure about handling them, especially to create an atmosphere of trust where true "leveling" can take place.

Therefore, in order to get to these fundamental concerns, the change agent may have to make elaborate preparations. For example, you may have to build trust through successful encounters on smaller issues, narrower projects, less impactful innovations. You may have to wait for unpredictable upheaval events, seizing them as opportunities, times when the system is so shaken up that a new configuration can be seen as possible, desirable, or even inevitable.  


Even with all this groundwork it will also be necessary to campaign for the change on a large scale. This may require considerable resources, vocal support from key leaders and opinion leaders, and much planning and preparation. For example, it will probably be necessary to organize high visibility events that force system introspection. It will also be necessary to advertise the need for change, to do so repeatedly, and to do so using many channels and through many types of spokespersons.

Redoing the organizational chart

All systems have a structure and all systems can also be charted to show relationships, formal and informal, among people and elements. Some relations are power-hierarchical, some merely associative and communicative. Some are functional lock-ins, such as the need to perform one task before another, e.g., to acquire resources before production and to produce before distribution, etc. Some of that structure may be revealed in the formal organizational chart if there is one. If there isn't one, then insiders ought to be able to draw one from the chart already existing in their heads. Sometimes there will be an organizational chart, which is described as "not real" or "not important." If this is asserted, then it is important to ask what the real one is or in what ways reality diverges from the chart as given. There is sometimes a formal organizational chart and an informal unofficial chart, the latter contained in people's heads. Again, it is important to know how and where the two converge and diverge.


A redo of either the formal or the informal chart represents a systemic change, i.e., a change in the basic structure of the system, and cannot be undertaken lightly. Any such change is likely to imply a redistribution of power, some giving it up, others getting more, some being dealt in for the first time, some at least feeling like they are being dealt out entirely. This is why such changes have to be very well prepared in advance with plenty of participation within and across levels.


If you or your change project or your change team are seeking a place on the chart, as suggested in the previous section, then you, too, represent a systemic change with all the threat and disruption that might imply for some other system stakeholders.


If, on the other hand, you are not somehow represented on the chart, or if you are on the chart but not clearly connected to anybody, you may not really exist for the system. It is an important clue to where you stand. New projects, new teams, and new people doing new things are necessarily marginal to the organization. They exist in parentheses on the chart and they are connected to other entities by dotted lines if at all. System changing requires that those dotted lines get solidified.

Budgets

The budget is the hardest sub-system to crack. There is always that distinction between "soft" money and "hard" money. "Soft" money is soft in two ways: first because the system leadership did not have to struggle to get it, even though the change agent and the his or her collaborators might have struggled mightily to get it; to the leadership it may seem as if it just fell in their laps without any significant effort on their part and little required commitment to continuation as "hard" money later. There may even be the added bonus of an overhead allowance that goes into their general operating fund. The second way it is "soft" is that it is almost always temporary; it is there to support the temporary system of the project until it has run its course of one, two, or at the most three years. Thus, it can be housed in temporary space, staffed by temporary people. In some cases the funds intended for the temporary system of the change project are even vulnerable to looting by a revenue starved parent system which can assign project staff to other duties, appoint token staff who really do nothing for the project, and otherwise divert funds to subsidize traditional system activities.


Getting a place on the real budget, or changing the way the real budget is allocated, represents real systemic change, and it is one of the greatest challenges to any change agent. This real budget is the one that represents the hard money, what is basic, what must be saved from year to year. What is recognized and given line item status in this budget is what is truly integrated and accepted within the larger system. The real budget is what the leadership and the local taxpayers will continue to support even in the most dire fiscal emergencies. It can be argued that no system really changes significantly if the allocations in this real budget don't change.


There is a certain logic that suggests that real positive change should be more possible in times of stress and financial stringency. The argument goes that the budget crunch forces the system to rethink its priorities (getting to more fundamental concerns) and the way it goes about its business (redoing the organizational chart). Unfortunately, our experience is generally to the contrary. When things get tight, people understandably defend their turf and their livelihood with a bitter tenacity. Those that have been there longest and are most integrated into the system the way it was in the past will therefore fight the hardest to save what they have, and furthermore will be in the strongest position to do so. Shrinking resources tend to set up zero-sum games where any change is perceived, correctly or not, as "you win, I lose." Sometimes this is the reality, but what the change agent should always be looking for are "win-win" or non-zero sum games in which the change benefits all or at least benefits some without threatening others.

Changing the rules

Finally, real system change means changing the way the system works and what it is striving to achieve. Every system has a charter, sometimes written, sometimes implicit, but real nevertheless. The charter states what we are here for, why we are working together, what our values are, and our basic operating philosophy. It is a useful exercise for any organization to reexamine its charter once in a while, to consider how the real charter of today deviates from the written charter of whenever. This organizational self-reexamination is not something to be taken lightly. In itself it is costly and usually requires outside help from change agents specializing in organization development.


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Stage 6.7 Transforming the System-II: What Is "Better"?

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Again and again throughout the Guide we address the "how" of change more than the "what," assuming as we go along that the "what" is something desirable, preferably something of proven value on the basis of many criteria, something that will demonstrably and assuredly help people in tangible ways. But now as we address the question of fundamental system change we need to come back to the question of what is really "better" for a complex functional-social system.


The question is too big to be answered here in any completeness, but a few indicators might be suggested, even though each has to be highly qualified. We propose that systems can be seen as changing for the better as they:


  • grow larger,
  • become more integrated,
  • become more differentiated,
  • provide more rewards, and
  • become more effective as innovators and problem-solvers.

Grow larger

Growth, the ability to grow and to keep growing, has to be an important criterion of positive system change. Growth may simply mean increasing the size of a system, but positive growth would signify something like serving more people, employing more people, providing more products and services. It may also mean becoming more inclusive, including more people in decision making, etc.


Growth, per se, cannot be argued to be a "good" on a priori grounds. Clearly some types of growth are dysfunctional for a system and size just for the sake of size has limited merit. Yet there is always room for positive growth in some direction, some aspect of the system. There are some things that can be added or expanded to make the system work better.

More integration

Becoming more internally connected is another aspect of positive change that has been stressed throughout The Guide. The more linkages there are among members of the system, units of the system, people performing different functions, people at higher and lower levels of the structure, etc., the stronger the system will be and the better able to carry out its mission. Thus, connectedness is probably an a priori "good" for any system.

More differentiation

The other side of the integration coin is differentiation. This may be a slightly harder concept to sell as an a priori "good" but it certainly qualifies. If we think of the animal kingdom there is no question that the higher species are far more differentiated; i.e., different sets of cells specialize their functions to a much higher degree. The same is arguably true of organizations; the more specialized the roles and subunits, the more functions can be performed and the more efficiently most functions can be performed.


More division of people and labor can also lead to more problems, as we have discussed many times. Thus, greater differentiation without equal or greater integration can be a disaster. Creating new units, such as for example the change unit discussed earlier, have distinct costs; they require new links of communication, changes in rules and procedures, in a word, integration.

More rewards

Systems exist in large part to provide "goods" in the broadest sense of that word. These goods could also be thought of as incentives or rewards for the various people who are providing inputs to the system, are members of the system, or receive outputs from the system. Rewards in these three categories may be very different, but they are all real and important.


On the input side, there are investors and suppliers. The ability of the system to take in more supplies, whether they are students or books or other materials, benefits someone in the larger community. If the school is able to inspire more investment of time and money and support from parents and others, this too is a positive system change.


Within the system itself, if more members can be gainfully employed, if members are more satisfied with their work, and if the work environment leads to higher productivity and higher life quality for members, these are all countable and significant "goods" as well.


Finally, on the output side, if the system is able to produce graduates who are more highly skilled, more knowledgeable, more able to earn incomes, more able and willing to contribute to the society as citizens, more able to be good parents, more able even to enjoy life for themselves, and to fulfill their lives in a well rounded way, these are all important "goods" on the output side.



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Stage 6.8 Terminating and Moving On

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A change agent can make a career out of one innovation and/or one client system. For such a change agent disengagement is not an important issue because it never comes. For most change agents, however, it should and will come. You should think about the consequences of disengagement and plan for them well in advance of actual termination. The two questions that should concern you are "when?" and "how?

When do you begin to disengage?

You can begin to think about disengagement when you start to observe signs of internalization of the innovation or, preferably, when you see signs that self-renewal capacity is beginning to build.


There are three basic conditions that allow withdrawal on happy and honorable terms.


  1. Problem Solved: 
    There is good evidence that the originally diagnosed problem is on its way to solution.
  2. Change Accepted: 
    The innovation has been accepted by the leadership and is beginning to diffuse rapidly among other system members;
  3. Renewal Achieved:
    There is evidence that the system is generating a self-renewal capacity.

Which of these three criteria you choose will depend upon your degree of success in the endeavor as well as your own objectives and ambitions. Alternatives "a" and "b" are obviously more limited than "c," but you may not be able to wait for "c" to develop if you have competing demands and obligations from other client systems. Moreover, it probably takes a good deal of experience and clinical insight to sense the moment when your clients are ready to step out on their own.

How do you disengage?

Because of the need for follow-up and continuing aid in adaptation, the disengagement process should be gradual. You should not leave your clients without fully thinking through with them how they will carryon without you. Discussions and specific commitments to continued work on the innovation should be a part of these closing phases of the relationship.


In addition, you should not be blind to psychological problems which may surround the act of disengagement. Remember that you have worked to create a strong relationship in which there has been some degree of mutual dependency. If you have done your job right, you now have many good friends throughout the system. They will be reluctant to have you go and you will be reluctant to leave on this account alone. Talking to them about the necessity of termination and discussing how they will carry on the project will smooth the transition.


Complete termination, however, is neither necessary nor advisable in most situations. Even after you have departed you should be available for emergency help and scheduled annual reunions. These continuing friendships   with former clients are an important part of your personal reward system,   one of the great satisfactions of being a change agent.


When change agents have succeeded in gaining acceptance, they are very much inclined to think that their job is done. It is now up to the client to take over long-term maintenance. It is a reasonable assumption;  the responsibility of the change agent must end somewhere. Your time and energy are not unlimited and there are clients in other places waiting for your help.


If you have been able to develop a change program along the lines suggested in the Guide, your task will now be relatively simple. Because you have worked collaboratively with your clients and involved them directly in all phases of the change process, by this time they should be well trained in helping themselves; they will have a good understanding of diagnosis, retrieval, selection, and so forth. That is the ideal, but we know that it is not usually the reality.

LIMITS!

The Change Agent is selling something.  --- The client is buying something.
What are the limits of this relationship? There have to be limits. 
In marriage it is “…till death do us part.” And this works perhaps half the time.
Merchandisers sometimes like to say: “ALL SALES ARE FINAL!”
but when are they really final?  The claim is really a dodge, a hope that there will be some legal protection if the product is a lemon.


Lawyers have spent millions of hours just struggling with this question.
Defining obligations and limits, usually in the fine print of contracts


The change agent must also struggle with limits.


There must be an “exit strategy.”  How often have we heard that!


  • if things go terribly wrong but also even
  • if they go terribly right!


The change agent needs to think through when and how to make a break with the client.

Limiting Cases

  1. The change agent is invited to take on the role of Change Agent for the system on a permanent basis and accepts.
  2.  The change agent takes on another role in the system which furthers the function for which the change project was initiated.
  3. The success of the change effort inspires the system leadership to invite the change agent to join them as their new leader.



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Stage 6.9 RENEW

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SUMMARY

Stage 6 could be called "introduction to the advanced course in change gentry." We are getting into some of the tougher and more complex problems of engaging in any type of change activity:


  • system change vs. item change,
  • continuous change,
  • change subsystems within systems.

There is a lot more to tell. Most of the subtleties are yet to come. They have been written about in many sources.


What we have dubbed "Stage 6" is not exactly a “stage.”

 It is

  • an end point,
  • a new beginning and
  • a whole new series of stages all rolled into one.


We have tried to develop the concept of system self-renewal and suggest ways in which the change agent can move the client toward a self-renewal capacity. In a final brief section we have also explored some of the problems related to the act of disengagement, the final termination of the relationship with the client.


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