Change is inevitable and is dynamic. Change can be managed or unmanaged. An organization that does not manage its change is similar to a ship sailing without direction. Its destinations will be determined by the winds, not by its sailors. Fullan (2007) viewed change as a process that includes three progressive steps, initiation, implementation, and institutionalization; basically similar to all other planning steps. The steps of change are interrelated. Each one of the steps does affect and is affected by the other steps.
The bulk of my experience is related to managing my own business, not precisely in educational institution or school districts. However I find that managing change of my own business has many elements & processes that overlap with elements and processes of changes of educational systems. Simply stated, both are forms of organization, despite the fact that making profit is the motive in my case.
The largest project that has been going on for a while in my business was the constant horizontal expansion. Horizontal expansion requires extensive investments in all functions of the organization; the financial, human resources, marketing, and the operation side. Initiating the decision for expansion was basically taken by one person, that is myself. I do not have a Board of Directors to help, or blame. The factors that Fullan (2007) set as criteria affiliated with initiation stage were present in my organization, but to a much lesser degree. The advocacy of the staff to the idea, availability of funds, availability and access to innovation and information, for instance, were all factors affecting my initiation decision. Change in small business is not as complicated as it is in larger organization, especially education. But the risk on the executives that initiate the change is more serious. Ineffective change in small businesses may lead to a significant effect on the networth of the executive, beyond his or her career.
The implementation process is perhaps the most important for small businesses like mine. Here, too, the process involves other internal people (local characteristics) with different visions and attitudes. Also the business is subject to more uncontrollable, external factors including technology, legal forces, competition, economic & financial forces, and perhaps to a lesser extent, social forces. The implementation process seems to be the most relevant to my project. The initiation was a minimal task that relied solely on me. The vision I developed throughout the years of my intense and passionate experience in my field helped me feel less stress during this initiation stage. This is not true when it came to the implementation stage as I relied on several people with different experiences and different attitudes, over a much longer period of time to carry out the implementation.
Accepting the continuous expansion has become a ‘routine” in our organization. It is something that I, as a CEO of the business, along with other managers and certain “committed employees,” keep as part of daily routine. It is part of our organization culture, where employees are expected us to be expanding on regular basis. The institutionalization of this change in our organization came along with packages of new and modified tasks and activities to all organization members.
The most effective stage in my case was the initiation stage. I knew precisely what I want to do with my organization and where I wanted it to be in the next twenty years. However there was some ineffectiveness in the implementation stage. The organization could have done more effective measures during the implementation as certain recurring mistakes could have been prevented. An example of that is hiring, training and retaining good work force.
Implementing horizontal expansion projects of similar business requires paying attention to several factors. Managing the human resources aspect of expansion seems to be the most complicated. Employment screening, effective interviews, solid training and retention programs, compensation systems that address performance are all key factors in successful implementation of expansion projects of similar small businesses.
Fullan, M. (2007). The new meaning of educational change (4th ed.). New York, NY: Teachers College Press.