This post goes back to some of my posts on “We the People” - as I’m still trying to understand and come to terms with resistance to change in our schools. I actually think the biggest issue with change (and to stick with my analogy of not wanting to “move”) is that we want everyone to quietly follow. I, for example, want everyone to think like I think. :) We are all very uncomfortable with different thought. But through the (often uncomfortable) exchange of different thoughts and ideas prior to making decisions (friction) - HEALTHY movement and change takes place. In addition healthy friction can provide a checks and balances for successful change.
Organizations have to allow the free exchange of diverse ideas and healthy amount of disagreement for change to take grip and to allow for movement!! Using the analogy of a car’s friction - if change/movement is forced by slamming on the pedal or sliding and skidding, it causes collateral damage. Or if movement is immediately stopped it skids and causes collateral damage. Or if someone is riding the brakes of change then change is slowed down. Another analogy is having only one or 2 people at the “wheel” (which allows for the type of manipulation that was discussed in a previous blog on data manipulation)… this can cause collateral damage by not having all the information about the car/movement. To use another analogy - a Captain of a ship needs to trust the crew members’ expertise on the area in which they’ve been trained. Only the crew can tell you what is needed to quickly turn the ship (change). Though a Captain sets the course, a captain cannot do it without the full knowledge, help, and even sometimes a touch of disagreement from the ship crew and the creators and engineers of the ship. So many analogies can be made about healthy friction. Allowing others to ask the questions and to truly experience the change through friction EQUALS movement… so allowing a healthy amount of friction MUST exist to move “weight” and to push change forward.
Accepting and considering the diverse ideas can be quite scary as it may feel as a loss of power. So I personally believe that only the most gifted of leaders can navigate this. In my studies, I learned there are some key principles to allowing friction. First, there has to be some common core beliefs and values that center around the vision of the school. And then freedom must be allowed to explore thoughts and ideas that reach to the common vision. Second, mistakes must be allowed. It is often through mistakes that progress and learning takes place. I was part of emerging leaders program at my previous place of employment. In one session, we had the opportunity to learn from a photographer for National Geographic… where his lesson was on teaching us the value of mistakes. He said he takes 3,000 pictures in a photo shoot to find the one perfect picture!! 2,999 “mis-takes”. Of course in education, we can never afford that many mistakes. However, we must remove the fear and stigma of sharing bottled up, creative ideas towards change because of fear of loss of power, or judgment or lack of faith in the “crew”.
Within these parameters of a shared vision and allowing for mistakes, friction can make for a place to thrive and achieve. Through shared leadership and implementation teamS (areas of the crew) - the true beauty of “We the People” (another previous blog)- an organization can continuously MOVE towards excellence.