Kevin Cookman, representing The Chalfont Project, spoke on The Human Element of Change from Traditional to e-Learning. This was ostensibly a case study, but Cookman had such fun discussing the psychology behind change programs that he did not have much opportunity to describe the case study. The topic applies to any change program, and it was interesting to hear Cookman's perspective and how he has worked with Chalfont clients.
Cookman talked about four elements that drives people's expectations in any organization: Vision & Strategy, Technology, Business Process, and People. He then made the comment that school teaches us about technology and business process, but that they completely drop the ball on people and vision.
So, what kinds of things do we need to learn about these areas? Cookman covered a lot of ground here, and here are some examples.
- Saving money is not a vision for anything. It might be a goal, but it isn't going to engage people in the effort.
- When changes are happening, leaders need to admit that a change really is happening, even if it is small. In the context of the conference: changing from classroom to e-learning is a huge change, if you look beyond the "they are getting the same information" argument. What about all the camaraderie that is developed between during and after a class? What about the indoctrination of enthusiasm and fellowship that you get from classroom settings, that is much different when sitting in front of a computer?
- Hope is not a strategy for managing people. We cannot simply hope that people will do things differently when we introduce change to the organization. To do it right, and this is where Chalfont spend a lot of their time, an organization needs to understand why people did things "the old way," and where are the incentives and disincentives for making the changes. They aren't talking about direct rewards, but rather things like performance metrics that get in the way of the desired change. Recognition is the number one actual incentive.
In this world, the organization needs to consider a new path to making changes in the business. Rather than creating new technologies and new processes to deal with those technologies, Cookman (and Chalfont) recommend looking at the behaviors that will bring the business to its requirements - requirements that come out of strategy discussions. These desired behaviors will lead to appropriate processes which in turn will lead to new technologies.
And getting back to people. Cookman echoed Rich Teerlink's talk from earlier in the day: "If you get the people part right, the rest falls into place." People run technology; people create the business processes and run them; people create the vision and strategy and they manage it.
[Life really gets in the way sometimes. The Chicagoland Learning Leaders Conference was one day a week ago, and I am just finishing my summaries. Hope you enjoyed them.]