Note: Leadership in this blog is defined the formal role as in management. I chose to use this definition as I found most of the readings for this unit define leadership in this way, though I do recognize leadership is not necessarily a role, but a mindset (Sarder, 2015).
There are constant initiatives that I have seen in my career as a healthcare worker as well as an educator and I have been in the game long enough to be skeptical about investing in proposed change schemes; and I use the word “scheme” deliberately. I have worked in medium to small hospitals and now work at a small vocational college and sadly more times than I can count, I see people in leadership use their positions to used change initiatives to inflate their resume in these smaller institutions to move on to “bigger and better” things. Then the revolving door of leadership results in the previous change being undone or never followed through. I do not often see success when change is attempted, which is supported by Al-Haddad and Kotnour’s (2015) findings that the success rate of change initiatives is less than 30%.
That is not to say, I do not like being involved in change, but I focus on change that is in my control with my immediate team, which I have enjoyed multiple successful change projects. Most recently is (fairly) successful transition of six previously lecture based courses to the digital online environment.
- How have the theories/models for change adapted to take into consideration our current technological, economic, and societal contexts? As we consider the rapid responses that have been required due to COVID-19 and the large-scale moves to remote learning and working, what lessons can we take away about introducing rapid change. What lessons did you learn in your own context?
Adopting a culture of accepting change as inevitable seemed to be significant to adapting to the rapid responses required due to COVID-19. Those who had already adopted this mindset had less of a learning curve than others who had not.
- Which theories/models do you think best align with your own approach to leading in a digital learning environment? Do these approaches align with your organizational context? Thinking again about how quickly shifts can occur, what ideas about introducing change would you take into future planning?
The theories/models that resonated with me were ones that considered a bottom-up approach such as the emergent change approach (Antwi & Kale, 2013). Specifically, for change in a healthcare context, the Canada Health Infoway Change Management Framework (inspired by Lewin), recognizes education and training as part of the change management process, which is not considered in other frameworks or change management theories (Antwi & Kale, 2013). Inadequate training, in my experience has been a key reason for resistance to a change initiative so I appreciate that this is considered in this framework. I also liked the participatory action research (PAR) that considers input and involves the people that will be involved in the change. (Al-Haddad and Kotnour, 2015)
- What role does leadership play in managing change?
My above stated skepticism of institutionally run change initiatives may be because it is often “top down” type of initiatives in very traditional and hierarchical environments. I like the leadership role proposed by Antwi and Kale (2013) regarding the emerging change model, which states the role of those in leadership positions, such as managers “must cede some of the decision-making authority to employees and act as facilitators of change as opposed to controllers of change”.
4.What are the unique challenges in managing change for learning in digital environments?
I think managing change is always challenging and complex. Managing change in the digital learning environment might have different details, but I do not think there is a specific uniqueness to its challenges. The need for all involved in a change to “buy in” seems to be particularly significant in many of the models in the readings such as the Kotter model (Al-Haddad & Koutnour, 2015), regardless of if the change in the digital environment or not.
Al-Haddad, S. and Kotnour, T. (2015), Integrating the organizational change literature: a model for successful change, Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 28 No. 2, pp. 234-262. https://doi-org.ezproxy.royalroads.ca/10.1108/JOCM-11-2013-0215
Antwi, M., & Kale, M. (2014). Change Management in Healthcare: Literature Review, (January), 1–35.
Sarder, R. (Producer). (2015). What makes a great leader? by Peter Senge, author of the Fifth Discipline https://youtu.be/1aYaj2-GZqk