Learning to Change and Changing to Learn or BBQing the scared cows

 Why is it so hard to people to accept change?

 Sorry for the lack of posts recently the world of work was very busy over the last couple of weeks, which has amongst other things prompted my thinking around change in the workplace, changing how we learn and how we deliver learning and change management in general.

Organisational change is a difficult and sometimes messy beast, but there is a lot I think we can learn by changing and by thinking about how to change.  Over the past few months I have been involved heavily in assisting an organisation through a process of change around how a core piece of their training.  This is a total revamp of the package, content packaging, delivery, even the outcomes of the training and its structure to achieve those outcomes.  We really were BBQing sacred cows with this change and there in lies the issues I wanted to touch on today.  The concept of changing something in order to learn and people and organisations learning how to change.

To paint a little bit of a picture, there had been for about 12 months or so prior to this change been a level of discontent in some quarters about the training that was being delivered, particularly around how it was delivered and what the outcomes were, it was frankly, starting to show its age.  That is not to say that it was fatally flawed, just ideas about delivery and content had moved on as had the landscape into which its outcomes fell.

As a result a project was put together to look over the entire package of the training and see what could be done to make it better fit the outcomes that were needed.  Now it was made clear at the start of the project that there really wasn’t any part of the training that was out of scope, if something needed to be changed and there was good justification to change it and it was going to fit the outcomes better, then there was an ongoing commitment to change.

So after about 6 months of consultation and work the team started to talk about and show parts of the new package to stakeholders and this is where an interesting thing happened, a lot of the people who had been critical of the original training program, did not like what they were seeing and we heard things like,

“Why did you change that?”

“That’s not how we do things around here.”

“You have changed everything, it’s not the same course.”

People who had previously complained about the program were now defending it and a lot of the issues seemed to be around the fact that things had actually changed,  the Powerpoint hadn’t just been updated, the actual material, how it was being presented and the outcomes had all be reimagined.  It drove home to me the fact that a lot of the time people don’t actually want change or at least not real change, they want superficial change, so that they can still feel safe and comfortable in what they know.

It really strikes me as a shame though we as individuals and organisations learn so much through change, if everything stayed the same why would we need to learn anything new, how would we grow and become better at what we do.  In fact some of my strongest learning come out of the most confronting of changes.  Now I know that individuals and organisations have vested interests in staying where they are, in not changing, but not changing is an evolutionary dead-end, it goes nowhere.

Both as individuals and os organisations we really need to Learn to change and change to learn.

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About pauldrasmussen
Paul Rasmussen is one of Australia’s most widely read Vocational Education and Training Commentators. He provides deep, unbiased analysis and insights not only on topical issues, but also on the underlying structure and policy which supports the industry. His writing and analysis has been praised for its uncompromising and thought provoking style and its ability to focus on the issues of real importance to the sector. He has advised various government departments and ministers, training providers, public and private organisations, not for profits and small to medium enterprises on the VET sector and the issues and opportunities facing it. He is one of Australia’s most awarded learning professionals and a regular speaker at a range of conventions and forums. His extensive experience in vocational education, and learning and development coupled with formal qualifications in philosophy, ethics, business and education management allow Paul to provide a unique view of the road ahead and how to navigate it.

One Response to Learning to Change and Changing to Learn or BBQing the scared cows

  1. Pingback: Culture eats your structure for lunch | Thoughts on management

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