Activity: Schools, change, and resource allocation

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Here’s an activity you can do with school administrators and teachers (and maybe school board members?). Total time: about 45 minutes.

Resources needed

  • PowerPoint slides (pptx ppt pdf)
  • Pre-made Google Doc formatted like this, with sharing set up so that anyone can view AND edit
  • Internet access and a laptop for at least one participant in each group

Set-up (about 5 minutes)

Whem most folks think and talk about organizational change, they envision it in linear terms:

Resourceallocationcurve1

In reality, change in organizations looks more like this:

Resourceallocationcurve2

In other words, change occurs more gradually, particularly at the beginning as employees spend time wrapping their minds around desired changes, how to fit those changes into existing practices, what they need to get rid of or substantially alter, what they still retain, etc. Change always starts slow and takes a while to (hopefully) gather steam.

I heard a presentation by IBM a few years back in which managers explained that, as much as possible, the company tries to frontload a heavy dose of resources toward any new change initiative. The resource allocation curve essentially is a mirror image of the change curve, allocating heavy amounts of training and training time, money, support structures, etc. up front and then tapering off closer to the end once the desired change is well-established.

Resourceallocationcurve3

The goal is to actually shift the change curve to the left – accelerating sooner to the desired outcome – by allocating large amounts of resources up front.

Resourceallocationcurve4

Few schools have the resources of IBM, of course. As a result, the resource allocation curve looks more like this in most school organizations:

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