Posts made in February, 2020

Over these past two weeks I have been able to develop a model for implementing change within digital learning environments for air traffic control. Air traffic control is a unique job but extremely difficult for students to inevitably pass training. Xing and Manning (2005) describe air traffic control as a “dynamic environment where controllers constantly receive a large volume of information from multiple sources to monitor changes in the environment, make decisions, and perform effective actions in a timely manner” (p. 1). Given the dynamic characteristics of the job and fast-paced change in technology over the past decade, change is inevitable from an external reference and therefore points to the requirement of internal change within an organization to acquiesce and harmonize to new changes. By interviewing two experienced colleagues (see Table 1.1), I have been to produce an infographic visual representation (see Figure 1.1) of how implementation of change would look within digital learning environments. The model takes into account previous change model theories, the results and insights from my colleagues (Table 1.1) and my own experiences as an air traffic control operations specialist and instructor.


The model as seen in Figure 1.1 depicts a four-phase process as follows: Evaluation phase, participation phase, re-evaluation phase, and implementation phase. Although simplistic is viewing, each phase is unique and builds upon the last phase making the end product of change that much more robust and effective. The four phases are first built on previously researched change models of the evaluation, re-evaluation, and action method (ERA Model) and the participatory action research (PAR) model. “The ERA model provides a more detailed picture of how the micro-processes of change work in an organization” (Chen et al., 2006, p. 1301). The combination of evaluating and analyzing the complex nature of the organization and particularly its values and overall system-inherent, lends this method to a good starting point to enact change. Moreover, its addition of re-evaluative phases provides more concrete identification of needs assessments required for change to be realized. A downside to the ERA model is a lack of participation and collaboration; Cue the PAR model. Where the ERA model lacks in collaborative change methods, the PAR model makes up for in abundance.  Al-Haddad and Kotnour (2015) elaborate that PAR examines issues systemically from the perspectives of lived experiences. This is seen cogently during the participation phase of Figure 1.1 where subject matter expert group(s) is/are formed in order to add substantive analyzing of the initial evaluation steps seen in phase one. This participatory inclusion from multiple organizational levels is encouraged by Captain Daigle, an interviewee seen in Table 1.1.


Leadership is critical in any change implementation, regardless of model(s) used. Both Captain Mornan and Captain Daigle describe leadership as pivotal entities to change implementation: leaders help to drive change and leaders provide tools for change to be realized. Overall, leaders are apart of the process and need to be present during the whole implementation of change. This can instill confidence in the required change needed. Leaders need to encourage and foster collaborative change initiatives to give a sense of accountability for change to be successful when part of the process (see also Ackoff, 2006). Leadership within digital environments needs to keep up with the dynamic changing environment of the digital world. Digital impacts on an organization need to be realized by the leadership and this can be reflected through leadership providing change initiatives and policies that account for the dynamic digital environment.


The model for change in digital learning environments I created (Figure 1.1) lays out an initial evaluation phase that analyzes an organizations complete structure, systems, and values, while identifying the needs required. Following this evaluative phase, the second phase of participation brings subject matter experts together to collaboratively analyze the initial evaluation, fostering engaged brainstorming. This gives a robust evaluation to the current identification of needs. A re-evaluation in phase three allows leadership to effectively take all the necessary and positive evaluations and analyses from phases one and two to move into implementation phase four. Phase four ensures that robust and effective strategies, combined with a comprehensive action plan, facilitate successful change to be realized.

Table 1.1 Interview Results from Two Experienced Military Air Traffic Control Training Supervisors with Leadership and Expertise in Digital Learning Environments

Name of Interviewee (Rank & Name) Number of Years in Military and Position Question 1: What role does leadership in application of change within digital learning environments? Question 2: With your experience, what are some principles to follow when implementing change?
Captain B. Mornan 30+ years service: Training Officer Air Traffic Control Services 19 Wing Comox -Leadership drives change and sets realistic goals that are attainable to subordinates

-Leadership provides tools and resources for change to be enacted effectively

-Leadership provides expectations that are reasonable to foster change initiatives

1.    Consistency

2.    Attainable Goals

3.    Engages Subordinates

4.    Provides Tools Necessary for task to succeed

5.    Leads

Captain R. Daigle 30+ years service: Simulation Designer and Training Expert Air Traffic Control Services 19 Wing Comox -Leadership leads by example in both action and attitude…this encourages those under them to do the same, thus increasing probability for change to be successful from start to finish

-Leadership fosters participation from all levels

1.    Lead by example

2.    Participation from all levels and subject matter experts

3.    Re-evaluate to always make things better

4.    Adaptability – things change, we have to change sometimes too

Figure 1.1 Click Below

Change Model Digital Environments Mark Regan


Ackoff, R.L. (2006). Idealized design; how to dissolve tomorrow’s crisis…today. Reference and Research Book News, 21(3) Retrieved from


Al-Haddad, S., & Kotnour, T. (2015). Integrating the organizational change literature: A model for successful change. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 28(2), 234-262. doi:10.1108/JOCM-11-2013-0215


Chen, Y.,  & Chang, H.C. (2006). ERA model: a customer-orientated organizational change model for the public service. Total Quality Management & Business Excellence, 17(10), 1301-1322.


Xing, J., & Manning, C.A. (2005). Complexity and automation displays of air traffic control: Literature review and analysis (Report No. DOT/FAA/AM-05/4). Washington, DC: US Department of Transportation Federal Aviation Administration.

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  1. How have the theories/models for change adapted to take into consideration our current technological, economic and societal contexts?

To unpack technological, economic and societal contexts in one question maybe too difficult to answer in one blog post. However, Al-Haddad and Kotnour (2015) suggest the simple notion that change models have adapted simply because organizational structures, systems, strategies and human resources are in a constant state of change. As time moves forward, so do change models and the theories that guide them. Yet, after all these adapted change models to meet the current technological era we live in, the true success rate of change initiatives is less then thirty percent (Al-Haddad & Kotnour, 2015; as cited by Balogun & Hope Hailey, 2004; Beer & Nohria, 2000; and Grover, 1999). Clearly, organizations of any type need to be attuned to both their internal and external environments to effectively know which change models/theories will best suit their needs.

  1. Which theories/models do you think best align with your own approach to leadership? Do these approaches align with your organizational context?

The participatory action research (PAR) method for change is something that routinely occurs within a military context on a tactical level, or in other words, lower work levels. This systemic approach wherein a group of people go through a particular change process and with the aid of their own experience, enact change in a meaningful way is arguably very effective. The issue with this method, in my opinion, is that large scale organizational change can be difficult to enact via using the PAR method alone. Military strategic and operational change methods follow more rigorous methods more aligned with the process reengineering methods.

  1. What role does leadership play in managing change?

Leadership is critical in enacting change. More specifically, in my opinion, it is the single most important sustainer for change. In other words, it may not necessarily be the leader who is responsible to start change; however, I argue that successful change is possible with leaders who drive and sustain change within a particular organization. Winston (2004) suggests a leader is a person who makes sure that the organization is heading in the right direction. Al-Haddad and Kotnour (2015) build on this thought by stating “the continually changing business environment needs quick responses that only a leader can provide” (p. 239). Leaders sustain change in order that it can be realized. Al-Haddad and Kotnour (2015) continue in their reasoning by saying “it is leaders who have to make the right decisions at the right time to align the organization with the changing environment; and who motivate the people to work and implement the changes” (p. 239; as cited by Goleman, 2000; Haidar, 2006). Military leadership needs to play a major role in the sustainment of change initiatives…lead by example and motivate others to sustain the change along with them.

  1. What are the unique challenges in managing change for learning in digital environments? What attributes do you think would work well within your own context?

One of the biggest challenges to leading change for learning in digital environments is simply that technological advances often move too quickly. A change method process such as process engineering, aimed “as a redesign tool to achieve radical improvements and innovations in organizational processes” can take too long to complete start to finish. By the time the change has been finally enacted, the technology one was trying to change has already changed leading now, your new change, as incompatible with today’s market or irrelevant to the today’s learning environment (Al-Haddad & Kotnour, 2015, p. 248). The fact that technology moves faster than change initiatives should not mean that change should not occur or organizations should not encourage a culture of innovation. In fact, I believe that organizations need to have realistic expectations that don’t hinder innovation, but at the same time, develop processes or methods for change that keep up with technological process at a realistic tempo.




Al-Haddad, S., & Kotnour, T. (2015). Integrating the organizational change literature: A model for successful change. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 28(2), 234-262. doi:10.1108/JOCM-11-2013-0215


Balogun, J., & Hope Hailey, V. (2004). Exploring Strategic Change, 2nd ed., Prentice Hall: London.


Beer, M., & Nohria, N. (2000). Cracking the code of change. Harvard Business Review, 78(3), 133-141.


Goleman, D. (2000). Leadership that gets results. Harvard Business Review, 78(2), 78-90.


Grover, V. (1999). From business reengineering to business process change management: A longitudinal study of trends. IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management, 46(1), 36.


Haidar, E. (2006). Leadership and management of change, Journal of Community Nursing, 20(4), 13.


Winston, A.W. (2004). Engineering management – a personal perspective. IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management, 51(4), 412-413.

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The military is an evolving organization within a nation. When culture, individuals, values, global stability, and even technology change, the military of any particular nation needs to adapt and change accordingly. But leaders, particularly in a military context, are often much older, albeit more expernced, than the subordinates who serve under them. One question that arises, and poignantly stated by General Stanley McChrystal, is “how does a leader stay credible and legitimate when the leader hasn’t done what his/her subordinates are doing?” (McChrystal, 2011, 11:48). McChrystal frames a relevant question as it pertains to the digital landscape of the global culture we see today. When a leader reaches the top, let us say the rank of general in remaining in the military context, often thirty to sometimes forty years have passed since they were working as a lowly second lieutenant or untrained private. It should be obvious what sheer changes of technology advance within a three to four-decade period of time; yet, the general is a leader that must lead troops of all ages, all backgrounds, and all experience levels in order to achieve mission success and to form the future leaders of the military when he/she is gone.

Issues arise in the modern battlefield, with management and C3 (Command, Control, and Communication) aspects of war being exercised differently now. Communications and orders are given via long distance secure military networks, tactical data links, and secure phone lines. General McChrystal stated “in a complex theater of war, we have to instill confidence, build up young leaders and do this all without putting a hand on a shoulder or seeing them face-to-face in the same room” (TED, 2011, 9:30). This is a challenge the military faces in an increasingly digital world; arguably, this is a challenge many environments with leadership structures are currently facing. What is the answer, what is true military leadership within the context of the modern digital world we live in today? If you asked General McChrystal, he would state something upon these lines: “leaders are those who are willing to step down from their position in the sense that they are ready and willing to listen and learn” (TED, 2011, 11:48). General Mattis would echo this message by stating: leaders must stay teachable by “assuming you must keep improving” (General Mattis, 2016, 3:48). O’Toole (2008) gives the notion that leadership is almost impossible to define; however, he does point to the question “what do all leaders have in common? Answer: followers. He would conclude, the role, task, and responsibility of all leaders is to create followers” (p. 7). I believe both General Mattis and General McChrystal are giving insight to O’Toole’s question by answering a new question, how do leaders create followers? Leaders create followers by ensuring they listen, understand, and learn whist leading. By doing so, a military leader will most likely be better prepared to lead their troops, to simply put. In end, their troops, if provided with good leadership, will be ready to fight and obey lawful commands willingly as they follow their leadership, whatever the circumstances dictate.


Marines. (October 13, 2016). Leadership lessons from General Mattis (Ret.) . Retrieved from

O’Toole, J. (2008). Notes toward a definition of value-based leadership. The Journal of Value Based Leadership, 1(1), 1-9. Retrieved from

TED. (2011, April 06). Listen, Learn, then lead|General Stanley McChrystal|TED Talks . Retrieved from



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