1703 North Beauregard St.
Alexandria, VA 22311-1714
Tel: 1-800-933-ASCD (2723)
8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. eastern time, Monday through Friday
Local to the D.C. area: 1-703-578-9600
Toll-free from U.S. and Canada: 1-800-933-ASCD (2723)
All other countries: (International Access Code) + 1-703-578-9600
by Douglas B. Reeves
Table of Contents
In Chapter 2 we considered your personal change experiences. In this
chapter we review your experiences with organizational change and
then integrate these two sets of experiences to complete your personal
Change Readiness Assessment.
Remember, the physical act of writing is important, so please
complete all of the work in this chapter, including the written
responses and the scoring of your change experiences.
Consider three organizational changes that you have experienced
in the past five years. These changes could represent change in a single
team or for the entire organization. Perhaps it involved a strategic
plan, a quality improvement, a technology implementation, or other
systemic changes. You will be asked to evaluate each change on various
criteria, using a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 representing no evidence of the
characteristics described and 10 representing an exceptional reflection
of those characteristics. For example, if the organizational change you were considering was a technology initiative for improved computer
security, then a score of 10 for "Planning" might be associated with
the fact that your organization created an extensive list of planning
steps, including training, technology support, hardware changes, and
personal follow-up for every person who was affected by the change.
A score of 10 for "Sense of Urgency" might be associated with the
fact that, had you failed to complete the computer security initiative,
your organization might lose a great deal of time and money, but if
you successfully completed it, you would be able to not only safeguard
your computerized information but also accomplish more for a mission
you believe to be very important. With regard to "Personal Support,"
a score of 10 could be related to the fact that your family and friends
knew that sometimes this important organizational initiative would
require extra time at work and limit your flexibility to spend time with
them. They knew that this time was important to you and that once
the computer security initiative was completed, you would be able to
spend more time with them. When you score a 10 on "Stakeholder
Support," you observed comprehensive stakeholder engagement at
every level, including elected officials, community members, students,
parents, teachers, administrators, and a broad cross section of interest
groups that would be affected by the proposed change. Finally, when
you score a 10 on "Effect on Results," you are able to say that you and
your team were more effective because you are not diverted by the
risks, costs, and time required by lapses in computer security.
These descriptions could, of course, make a score of 10 seem
out of reach, but that is precisely the point. Honest 10s are rare, and
therefore you should be equally fair in awarding low scores. The very
fact that you are reading this book suggests a solid commitment to, and
interest in, change. That does not mean that every change effort you
have engaged in has been successful. Chances are that some have been more successful than others, and that is precisely what this opportunity
for personal reflection is all about.
Please take a few minutes to complete the following paragraphs.
Again, I ask that you resist the temptation to skip over this interactive
exercise and instead recognize its importance—not only for you, but
for the school or system you wish to lead. Like the stories of personal
change you recorded in Chapter 2, your stories of organizational
change will give you credibility and will also help you reflect on how to
best lead others.
Based on these reflections, complete the Organizational Change
Readiness Assessment in Figure 3.1, listing the three most important
changes in the left-hand column and entering a score from 1 to 10 for
each column, with 10 representing the highest level of change effectiveness.
The Organizational Change Readiness Assessment considers
the capacity of the organization and the leader to engage in significant
Directions: For each change, enter a score of 1 to 10 in each column, with 1 representing no evidence of the characteristic described, and 10 representing an exceptional
reflection of that characteristic.
Plans were clear,
detailed, and effectively
Sense of Urgency
Widespread sense of
the immediate need for
change was apparent.
My family and friends
knew I was making a
change and supported
Employees, clients, and
the community understood
and supported the
Senior leadership made
the change their clear
and consistent focus
long after initiation.
Finally, complete your Organizational Change Score:
The total for the two highest changes in your Organizational
Change Score represents the horizontal score.
Going back to Chapter 2, enter the total for the two highest
changes in your Personal Change Score: _____. This total represents
the vertical score.
Use these two scores to enter an X in the appropriate box of the
Change Readiness Matrix (Figure 3.2). For example, if you have a
horizontal score of 80 and a vertical score of 70, then you will place an
X in the upper right-hand quadrant. If you have a horizontal score of
20 and a vertical score of 60, then you will place an X in the upper lefthand
Now that you know the quadrant that best represents your
change readiness, let us consider in greater detail the implications of
your Change Readiness scores.
If you scored in the upper-left quadrant, you are Ready for Learning.
Here the leader demonstrates a history of successful change, with a
strong capacity for planning and executing change. The organization
can learn from the leader's personal and professional example. Before
undertaking a new change initiative, however, the leader must attend
to the learning needs of the organization. Specifically, the organization
may need work on planning, communicating, and executing
change. Moreover, the organization must create an evidence-based
culture in which a clear and compelling case for change leads to a sense
of urgency by every stakeholder. Finally, a commitment to clear and
public displays of data must be in place so that the results of the change
can be widely shared, reinforcing the commitment and hard work of
every person contributing to the change effort.
If you scored in the lower-left quadrant, then you are Ready for Resistance.
When neither the leader nor the organization has a history
of successful change, then the most likely result of any new change
initiative will be resistance, anger, undermining, or simply ignoring
the effort. Without stakeholder support or leadership execution, these
organizations will simply "out-wait" every new change initiative and
the leaders who attempt to implement them.
If you scored in the lower-right corner, then you are Ready for Frustration.
When an organization with a strong history of change is led
by someone who either is reluctant to engage in systemic change or
lacks the personal capacity to do so, then the potential for frustration
is strong. Each time the organization gets ahead of the leader and
the ensuing change fails to be supported by senior leadership, change
becomes less safe. Eventually, the organization will stop taking the risks
and migrate to the left-hand side of the matrix. The next leader will
inherit an organization with severely compromised change readiness,
and it will take time to rebuild trust and regain change capacity.
If you scored in the upper-right quadrant, then both the leader and the
organization have exceptional change capacity, and the organization
is a model of resilience. This organization can adapt to environmental
and cultural shifts, change strategies and form, innovate services and
resources, and create an atmosphere of excitement and engagement.
Now that you know your readiness for change, we turn our attention
to the factors affecting school culture. Although it is tempting to
address such a challenge with the imperatives of what must change,
we will consider the counterintuitive principle that the first duty of
leadership is defining what does not change. Only when you meet your
colleagues' needs for stability will you be able to challenge them for
Copyright © 2009 by ASCD. All rights reserved.
No part of this publication—including the drawings, graphs, illustrations, or chapters, except for brief quotations in
critical reviews or articles—may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical,
including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission from ASCD.
Subscribe to ASCD Express, our free e-mail newsletter, to have practical, actionable strategies and information delivered to your e-mail inbox twice a month.
ASCD respects intellectual property rights and adheres to the laws governing them. Learn more about our permissions policy and submit your request online.