Monday, October 19, 2009

Complexity and the Change Process

Fullan, M. (1999). Complexity and the change process. In Change Forces: The sequel (pp. 13-30). London: Falmer Press.

An organisation can be thought of as a living system. It changes and grows over time, and cannot be assembled in one single act of creation or change. It is one thing to see an innovation up and running, but quite another to get there in your own organisation.
One of the most important aspects of change and innovation is knowledge creation. An organisation creates knowledge by finding the sources of knowledge and disseminating it throughout the organisation.
We should be inspired by the mandates and vision that comes from above. Top-down mandates and bottom-up energies need each other. Success comes when initiatives combine accountability (from above) with the development of individual capacity (at the bottom).
We should make sure that any initiatives combine sound pedagogical theory with explicit strategies for change. The local context is a crucial variable.
Differences and conflict, if respected, help us learn more and have creative breakthroughs. Sharing of tacit (hidden) knowledge among individuals with different backgrounds, ideas, values, and perceptions is a vital first step.
"Small groups of self-selected reformers apparently seldom influence their peers." (Elmore, 1995, p. 20)
Organisations going through change are complex almost to the point of chaos. Allow for flexibility within a structure of priorities, targets, deadlines and responsibilities. Create opportunities and processes for communication within the organisation.
High quality interconnectedness and emotional support allows collaborative cultures to keep tackling hard problems.
In education, there are so many new policies, innovations and competing pressures, that unconnectedness becomes a problem. Principals are essential as integrators and synthesisers. What is important is to create procedures for making meaning from tacit knowledge to bring it into the open to be shared. Also important is to create ways to integrate or connect each now opportunity with the organisations central focus.

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