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There is change and then there is change. Or is there just change?

"Our hunch is that when futures thinking and design is incorporated into K12 planning these two methodologies enable schools to be more agile, imaginative and ready for disruption. It builds our muscle for change, by mitigating ‘change fatigue’ and helps us be ‘change fit.’  " 

When Ariel Raz referred to 'change fatigue' in this article, it caught me off guard a little. I read it over a few times, and tried to figure out what was not sitting right in my mind.  It has been a couple of days, but I have managed to narrow it down: I think that there needs to be a distinction made between reactive change and proactive change.

In the last year we have all been forced into a seemingly endless stream of reactive adjustments to a landscape that has shifted hugely from week to week.  That environment has called for specific styles of leadership and decision making processes, those more associated with crisis management rather than project growth management.  And working in that kind of environment has been exhausting.  We have suffered from all kinds of different modes of fatigue, and change fatigue was certainly one of them.  Everyone in our school environment has been forced to shift their way of teaching and learning with very little warning over and over, and in all kinds of different ways.  We have moved from having students in person to having some students in person to having no students in person.  We have all needed to adopt new technologies, become proficient in video conferencing, and adjust our practice to deal with the completely different kind of relationship building that remote learning needs .  This reactive change has been exhausting.  But we have become good at it. Neccessity, the mother of invention.

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A different challenge that schools all face to different degrees, depending on the school culture, is that of proactive change. Planned change that we are able to prepare for, that we can design, and that we have the luxury of using a chosen process to manage. Managing this kind of change calls on an organization to be agile and ready for tranformation.  

When we talk about being agile and seeking tranformation, we need to ask yourself questions about how we manage that sometimes difficult process that is change: 

  • How does change take place at our school? 
  • Who initiates change?  
  • Who participates in the change process?  
  • What is our process for nurturing change? 
  • How can we become more agile?

So after considering the distinction that I have outlined so far, that of preactive vs proactive change, I began to think of the past year, and the upcoming year.  There has been a tsunami of change in the past year, and we are preparing for more change.  And so Iam beginning to see the ines between the two kinds of change blur.  My realization is that if you are an agile organization, if you are always iterating your practice, if you do have the skills and the mindset to manage disruptive change, then threr is no real distincion between proactive and reactive change.  It is all part of the process of being transformative. 

The last question I posed above is where the gold lies.  That is what I would like to learn more about, and share with others.