As I gear up for my last few weeks of travel, I thought I would share some thoughts that Iâ€™ve had on the concept of change.Â I recently finished reading Switch by Chip and Dan Heath.Â This book was recommended to me by educators and other MBAs who I really respect, so I was excited to read it.Â If you havenâ€™t read it, I highly recommend it.Â The book hooked me with the subtitle, â€śHow to change things when change is hard.â€ťÂ Chip and Dan Heath provide examples of change management ranging from a Teach For America teacher first entering the classroom to a school leader in a successful turnaround environment.Â But, this isnâ€™t a book just for educators, and I loved how the book not only addressed organizational change but also societal and individual change.
Change is soooo terribly difficult.Â I can think of an endless number of friends who struggled with the change of college to the real world, leaders who struggled to make the change from peer to boss, organizations that struggled to go from good to great.Â Yet, in order for us to really provide a high quality education for ALL students, our education system has to change.
During my last round of travels, I spent some time in Denver where change in education is very present.Â In many ways, the change is exciting, but it is also very hard.Â Denver Public Schools is known across the nation for leading the way in district and charter partnerships.Â While the work they are doing there is encouraging, in Houston I think we can do more.Â Switch provides a framework for tackling change and guides my thinking about what many of us in Houston are ready to do in the world of district/charter partnerships.
Switch tells us to â€śDirect the Rider,â€ť â€śMotivate the Elephant,â€ť and â€śShape the Path.â€ťÂ They donâ€™t claim to have made up this analogy, but it is a great way to think about communicating change.Â By directing the rider, we aim to be very specific and point to a clear destination of where we want to go with our change.Â When we motivate the elephant, we tap into the emotional side of people.Â Where do people hold a lot of feeling?Â How do we shrink the change so that people can understand what is actually changing?Â Finally, when we shape the path, we tweak the environment and build habits while rallying the herd of supporters.
The Heath brothers say you must do all of these things:Â reach the rational rider and the emotional elephant while clearing the way for people to succeed.Â As we continue to push forward with our district/charter partnership in Spring Branch, I constantly am thinking about this framework.Â I encourage all of my other educators out there to do the same.Â Change is an amazing and invigorating phenomenon, but we have to remember how truly difficult it is for others.
To end, I wanted to pass along a list of books that you might want to check out.Â When all 24 of the Fisher Fellows, Global Fellows, and Partner Founders were in Houston a few weeks ago, some of us shared what we are reading these days.Â I think it gives a pretty clear picture of whatâ€™s on our minds right now. Enjoy!
- The Heart of Coaching
- Truth, Beauty and Goodness Revisited
- Barron’s Profile of American Colleges
- Hiring Smart
- Death by Meeting
- Lost at School
- Moral Leadership
- The Happiness Advantage