Theories/Models of Change within the Digital Learning Context: Questions

Posted By mregan on Feb 16, 2020 | 1 comment

  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.

1 Comment

  1. Hi Mark,
    You highlight the importance of leadership and also that the pace of change initiatives are often slower than how fast the technologies change. You outline two different processes that are at used in your context – at the more micro level – PAR, and then at the Macro level – process engineering (which though effective, can be lengthy). Considering the benefits of both, do you think there are elements of each that could help change initiatives keep pace with technological innovation? Do you think any other models might work in that case? Thanks for a great post.

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