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 School Improvement:  Change
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Change Management

Proposals for change are usually based on promises of a better future. These promises are based on the benefits that will flow when the change has been fully implemented and is working very well. However most changes also involve a number of counter productive elements.

 

Change increases the need for resources while decreasing productivity (at least initially):

  • Change does not happen in a vacuum. Thus it involves competition between the proposed changes and what is already happening (at least during the implementation phase)
  • Change requires preparation which may involve the acquisition of new knowledge, skills, materials, equipment, facilities,
  • Change is disruptive since it requires that the organisation prepare for new tasks while still doing the existing tasks.
  • It is often necessary to run parallel systems during the change over from one system to the next.

 

Change also involves loss

  • change means that something, that was, no longer exists or occurs
  • it is easy to be distracted by the improvements associated with change and so fail to notice the losses involved

 

The costs of change

  • Resources (tools, arrangements, facilities, supervision...) for new activities
  • Resources for implementing the change (training, managing the overlap, building commitment...)
  • Losses (knowledge, skills, identity, arrangements...)

 

'Improvement' through change, ie, the introduction of new processes

(Graph) Change: cost and productivity over time

  • In social systems such schools where the financial costs appear largely fixed and financial benefits are poorly understood change is often falsely seen as 'cost neutral', especially by those who are proposing the change but do not have to achieve it.
  • People are often reluctant to give up what works reasonably well (or is perhaps just familiar) for the promised but as yet undemonstrated benefits.
  • As a result the additional costs of implementing change are often hidden because they are created by, and/or passed on to, the people involved (teachers, students and families) and/or deferred to a later time and place.