Greg Pilewski | November 2014

STEAM Leadership: Make Organizational Change Concepts Simple

Today, I’m discussing STEAM leadership and how to make simple organizational change concepts.

Leaders across the country are finding themselves in the middle of significant changes in the educational landscape.  From the implementation of new standards, new assessments, new teacher and principal evaluations, or embarking on a new approach such as arts integration can be a struggle to juggle while you are in the middle of the process.

Leading any change effort takes time and it takes an understanding of the process itself in order to support others.  However, I don’t think we equip our leaders enough with strategies and techniques to support them with leading change in their school or in their districts.  Even the most experienced leaders make mistakes and sometimes by skipping steps in the process can have a significant impact on implementation. Sometimes we feel so rushed that we go right for the implementation without stopping to reflect on the process and where others are in the process to help keep them focus on the long-term outcome.

Once, I was part of a team of leaders that were launching a new change in the way our school district provided supports and services to schools.  As we began to roll-out the systemic change we made sure we kept a few things in mind along the way.  Below are a few things we considered to help make the change process simple.

1. Communicate the Sense of Urgency –

One of the most power aspects of the change process is creating a sense of urgency.  This sounds simple but this connects back to being able to clearly identify the problem that you are seeking to solve.  With a clear picture of the problem it’s easier to create a clear picture of the future.  Consider a dramatic way to get your audience’s attention so they will feel a bit uncomfortable about the current state.

2. Involve as Many People as Possible-

Another key aspect of the change process is to involve a small key group in the beginnng and then build.  Select a few key people who make up an integrated team that can help shape and clarify the change.   An integrated team is important because it brings different points-of-view to the table.  Buy-in is always essential, but as the flywheel of ideas and clarity begins to turn you can involve more people.

3. Minimize the Unknown and the Uncertainty-

This is a very important step and can easily be forgotten.  Often when a major change in an organization takes place the “rumor mill” can get out of control very quickly.  Try to communicate as much as you can as often as you can.  As leaders we often have confidential information that we can’t share, but don’t let that stand in the way of communicating or over communicating information that your staff can and should know.

4. Be Positive and Celebrate Success

Leading any change takes consistency. It’s easy to take for granted the opportunities to “stop and smell the roses”, but it’s true.  Stopping during the change process to reflect and communicate all the positive things that are going on in your school or organization can pay dividends.  Remember, success breeds success!

5. Communicate the Reasons to Change –

This is another step in the change process that can be easily overlooked. Telling yourself to “sound like a broken record” is a good strategy to keep in mind.  This connects with consistently communicating clarity and consistently communicating your sense of urgency.  Is it clear two or three levels down in your school or organization the reasons to change?

6. Be as Transparent as Possible-

There are so many outlets to communicate with your team, faculty, or staff in todays digital world.  Communicating as much information as possible can be one thing that people will appreciate the most going through the process.

Below is a quick video that I have used on numerous occasions to help reinforce the change process.  The video is a little over three minutes and does a great job explaining organizational change concepts is a simple but memorable way.  I found it to be a great way to support any transformation effort. The video was created by Better Bussiness Learning: Helping Organizations Change and you can get a downloadable PDF version here.  This website is one of my favorites as it has a host of resources and tools to assist you with your change efforts.

Are there any change management strategies you found useful in your STEAM/Arts Integration change efforts? 

What challenges have you found with your STEAM/Arts Integration change efforts? 

What are some of the “pain points” that your teachers or staff face in making the change to STEAM/Arts Integration? 

About the Author

Greg is a former Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction and has nearly twenty years of classroom, school-based and district-level leadership experience in five different public school systems. He has a passion for teaching and learning and a commitment to supporting school-level and system-level leaders with integrated and innovative resources. Not only is Greg an accomplished leader and speaker, he’s also an avid tinkerer in his workshop where he enjoys making projects around his historic home for his lovely wife and two Labrador retrievers. You can catch Greg’s insights right here each and every Thursday and contact him directly at: [email protected]