Monday, October 6, 2014

Dealing With Change

Organizations don't start out broken and they don't intentionally destroy themselves so why does every organization go through a period that threatens their growth?  I would also apply this to our teaching too.  In his book "Creativity Inc." Ed Catmull addresses this issue:
     "It's folly to think you can avoid change, no matter how much you might want to.  But also, to my mind, you shouldn't want to.  There is no growth or success without change."p.146
     "People want to hang on to things that work--stories that work, methods that work, strategies that work.  You figure something out, it works, so you keep doing it--this is what an organization that is committed to learning does.  And as we become successful, our approaches  are reinforced, and we become even more resistant to change.
     Moreover, it is precisely because of the inevitability of change that people fight to hold on to what they know.  Unfortunately, we often have little ability to distinguish between what works and is worth hanging on to and what is holding us back and worth discarding.  If you polled the employees of any creative company, my guess is that the vast majority would say they believe in change.  But my experience, post merger, taught me something else: Fear of change--innate, stubborn, and resistant to reason--is a powerful force.  In many ways, it reminded me of Musical Chairs: We cling as long as possible to the perceived "safe" place that we already know refusing to loosen our grip until we feel sure another safe place awaits.
     In a company like Pixar, each individual's processes are deeply interconnected with those of other people, and it is nearly impossible to get everyone to change in the same way, at the same pace, all at once.  Frequently, trying to force simultaneous change just doesn't seem worth it.  How, as a managers, do we differentiate between sticking with the tried-and-true and reaching for some unknown that might--or might not--be better?
     Here's what we all know, deep down, even though we might wish it weren't true: Change is going to happen, whether we like it or not.  Some people see random, unforeseen events as something to fear.  I am not one of those people.  To my mind, randomness is not just inevitable, it is a part of the beauty of life.  Acknowledging it and appreciating it helps us respond constructively when we are surprised.  Fear makes people reach for certainty and stability, neither of which guarantee the safety they imply.  I take a different approach.  Rather than fear randomness, I believe we can make choices to see it for what it is and to let it work for us.  The unpredictable is the ground on which creativity occurs." p.147-148
So what are you clinging to right now in your classroom or school or district that is holding you back?  Are you willing to work toward the changes that are necessary to remain relevant?  Also is the realization that EVERYONE is challenged by change give you better insight into how to deal with those around you who are dealing with the changes you are making?