View my change model here
Change is inevitable, especially in today’s world where technology allows new ideas to be shared quickly and broadly, with rapidly emerging technology. Within this reality, organizations are compelled to implement change not only for advancement, but also to remain relevant. How change is implemented can determine the successes of an organization. In understanding this dynamic contemporary context, I propose a model for change within digital learning environments that takes a holistic approach to change and allows for adaptability and flexibility, while emphasizing stakeholder engagement.
Implementation of change requires both an effective change model and leader for each specific context. This specificity is especially important, as the vast majority of change implementation fails (Al-Haddad & Kotnour, 2015). In describing a significant change that transformed the college I work for, my colleague described a senior leader as being a “visionary that is trusted and is willing to take feedback from others to adjust” (N. Saini, personal communication, February 18, 2020). To me, this is a leader that demonstrates both reflective and adaptive approaches. To create a change model for addressing digital learning environments, I combined my professional experiences, while taking inspiration primarily from the CHANGE and Lueke’s models. Both models highlight the importance of having a shared vision and involving stakeholders as two factors that coincide with successful change. In describing my model for change, I will elaborate on these models and leadership theories, as well as the challenges they address.
The first two steps in my model identify change both externally and internally, while planning for the change. Antwi & Kale (2014) state that “to begin the preparation for change, the environment of an organization must be analyzed fully” (p. 24). This is where an adaptive leader shines, by determining possible changes needed and then developing a plan that will have positive results (Khan, 2017). In my experience, a leader must be aware of not only the ecosystem their organization exists in, but also how the vision, values and mission fit into changes. For example, working in a college, there are complex systems, policies and practices that must be addressed when considering change. Within the sector, there is an expectation to evolve and innovate with technological advancements in education, which can pose a challenge of being in constant change.
Once a change has been identified, it is essential that organization members are consulted and informed, as identified in steps three and four of my model. It is imperative for leaders to involve all stakeholders in order to gain buy-in and explain the ‘why’ of change. If the organizational culture is not ready for change, plans can quickly be derailed (Weiner, 2009). A leader may have a preferred direction, but this can’t be done from the top down alone. In Luecke’s model, developing a shared vision with stakeholders is key as “leadership is a relationship between those who aspire to lead and those who choose to follow” (Kouzes & Posner, 2011, p. 4). My colleague echoed this sentiment when she explained that, change needs to be a process that is democratized, by intentionally including the employees involved in the change (J. Mcllroy, personal communication, Feb. 21, 2020). This is where the skills of a reflective leader stand out. This type of leader is focused on “innovative ways to solve problems with an equal focus on people and profit” (Castelli, 2016, p. 218). Members of an organization will recognize this effort, thus, increasing confidence in the change process.
The last four steps of my model focus on implementation and sustainability. In these stages, the challenge is to keep all stakeholders motivated as the implementation starts. My colleague suggested that before implementation, the change champions should be identified, in order to determine a success plan (J. Mcllroy, personal communication, February 21, 2020). This approach is reflected in the CHANGE model when highlighting the importance of short-term success for motivation (Biech, 2007). Within these stages, management should be visible, encouraging and reinforcing the changes. This can include updating policies/procedures, monitoring progress, and adjusting the strategy to ensure continued success. For example, in implementing a Bring Your Own Device program at my workplace, new teaching strategies were integrated into faculty training, technology infrastructure was built, and policy/procedures created to operationalize the changes.
In creating a change model for digital learning environments, I utilized aspects of both the CHANGE and Luecke’s model. In order for a change model to be successful, it is in integral that the approaches taken by leadership are context specific and consider building a shared vision for all, rather than enforcing top-down methods. In doing so, change can result in desired outcomes, through fostering resilience in the organization by harnessing a flexible and adaptable pathway.
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
Antwi, M., & Kale, M. (2014). Change Management in Healthcare: Literature Review, (January), 1–35. Retrieved from https://smith.queensu.ca/centres/monieson/knowledge_articles/files/Change%20Management%20in%20Healthcare%20-%20Lit%20Review%20-%20AP%20FINAL.pdf
Biech, E. (2007). Models for Change. In Thriving Through Change: A Leader’s Practical Guide to Change Mastery. Alexandria, VA: ASTD [Retrieved from Skillsoft e-book database]
Castelli, P. (2016). Reflective leadership review: a framework for improving organisational performance. Journal of Management Development, 35(2), 217-236. https://doi.org/10.1108/JMD-08-2015-0112
Khan, N. (2017). Adaptive or Transactional Leadership in Current Higher Education: A Brief Comparison. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 18(3). https://doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v18i3.3294
Kouzes, J., & Posner, B. (2011). The characteristics of admired leaders. In Credibility : How leaders gain and lose it, why people demand it. San Francisco, Calif.: Jossey-Bass. Retrieved from Skillsoft e-book database.
Weiner, B. J. (2009). A theory of organizational readiness for change. Implementation Science, 4(67). https://doi.org/10.1186/1748-5908-4-67