Change is a process, not an event.
- Gene Hall & Shirley Hord
What is the difference between an event and a process? An event is a one-time occurrence. It happens, and it is over and done with. In contrast, a process is ongoing. It takes place over time and evolves.
How do people treat change as a one-time event? The following are some typical illustrations:
- Send out a memo saying that from this point on, this is how things will be done.
- Invest in a new program and expect that people will automatically be able to use it.
- Send people off for training and expect them to immediately behave differently.
- Enact a new policy or practice and then announce it to the staff.
- Offer people professional development with the expectation that they will successfully help others.
- Involve only a small number of people in making the change instead of a more broadly based group of stakeholders.
- Expect to see immediate results from a change initiative.
When people treat change as an event, it is doomed to fail. Unless the change is one of minimal consequence, it simply won't happen. What is different when people see change as a process? They do the following:
- Involve the people affected by the change in planning for and leading the change.
- Account for the impact of change on the people involved.
- Know that any significant change takes time and plan accordingly.
- Employ professional development over time to ensure that people acquire the right knowledge and skills to implement the change.
- Set realistic expectations for implementation.
- Build a culture of support for the change that avoids blaming people for past mistakes.
- Apply a monitoring procedure to track key benchmark events.
From: Leading Every Day by Joyce Kaser, Susan Mundry, Katherine E. Stiles, & Susan Loucks-Horsley
Published by: Corwin Press