McGeehan, Fullan ReviewMarch 10, 20091Book ReviewLeading in a Culture of ChangeChanging OrganizationsDennis McGeehanEDAM 27704-1March 10, 2009Rowan UniversityFall 2009
McGeehan, Fullan ReviewMarch 10, 20092Michael Fullan advocates a studied, measured approach to change in Leading in ACulture of Change. In his opinion, a slow and steady progression which he describes as "thecapacity to resist a focus on short-term gains at the expense of deeper reform where gains aresteady but not necessarily dramatic" (Fullan, 2001, p.63) leads to implementation of meaningfulimprovements in education. His work intends to show how leadership and management canimprove with attention to selected crucial measures. Those critical measures of leadership andmanagement Fullan reveals as moral purpose, an understanding of the change process,relationship building, knowledge creating and sharing, and coherence making. His dimensionsare not exclusive and must be supported by organizational members to effect positive and lastingchange. From his various references in the text, his dimensions have much in common withother experts in this field. Member support is measured as a function of internal and externalcommitment. Internal commitment involves the employee’s dedication to the task itself whileexternal commitment is driven by management policy. As the framework for leadership, thedimensions must be achieved not merely from a sense of obligation, but with energy, enthusiasmand hopefulness. He delineates the interrelationships of these dimensions in the ensuing chaptersof the text.Our author proceeds in his discussion of the dimensions by explaining the contribution ofmoral purpose to leadership. With moral purpose there is an imperative to act and moral purposecreates the sense of urgency that energizes an organizational commitment into action. A sense of
McGeehan, Fullan ReviewMarch 10, 20093moral purpose should heighten resolve for action. It serves as the foundation for lasting changeas it must quickly resolve any secondary competing interests and goals of organizational sub-groups before any attempt at change can be contemplated. Moral resolve takes organizationalpurpose beyond short term objectives to long-range, strategic thinking. I would differ from Dr.Fullan on this point as moral purpose seems applicable to some, but not all, organizations.Chester Barnard identified only two organizations with a long-lasting sense of purpose, themilitary and the Catholic Church (Barnard, 1938). A school system, for example would seemmore likely to operate from a sense of moral purpose than a corporate concern and, unlike mostcommercial organizations, school systems are long-lasting. Establishing such a purpose wouldbe the function of upper management who must communicate this sense of purpose through theorganization as expressed in the organization’s mission and vision statements. The greaterfallacy would be to try to establish a sense of moral purpose where one can not be identified.Policies and procedures from a management rather than from a leadership perspective would notbe the platform for moral purpose. The organization would be better served to act as a matter ofself-interest than contrive moral purpose from a management perspective.Unlike the belief that a common goal lasts fleetingly (Barnard, 1938), the broaderfoundation of moral purpose serves as the basis for recurring commitment by the organizationultimately leading to coherence making. Here it should be remembered, Fullan’s dimensions arenot intended to perform as a linear process. Once a previously elusive moral purpose can beestablished in an organization, coherence making, another Fullan dimension, is more likely to
McGeehan, Fullan ReviewMarch 10, 20094follow later. Again, moral purpose seems much more likely to be established in a service, suchas a school or hospital, rather than purely commercial setting. Although a shared goal in acommercial setting holds interest so long as it serves members’ self interests which are satisfiedor change over time, moral purpose has the desired stickiness (Gladwell, 2002) that holds theorganization’s commitment for an extended period of time. Where moral purpose can not beestablished, Barnard offers hope in the form of an alternative zone of indifference wherebyinitiatives of little interest to organizational members are accepted for that very reason (Barnard).Any gain realized by moral purpose, or for that matter by Barnard’s zone of indifference,can still be lost without an understanding of the change process. Mastery of this second criticaldimension can help regulate the pace of change in an organization and can resist attempts atquick fixes by its mitigation of great ideas and rapid change. Fullan refers to Kotter’s eight stepchange linear process, establishing a sense of urgency, creating the guiding coalition, developinga vision and strategy, communicating the change vision, empowering broad-based action,generating short-term wins, consolidating gains and producing more change, and anchoring newapproaches in the culture (Kotter, 1996, p.21); however, Fullan advises the culture of changeoffers a paradox as it “consists of great rapidity and no linearity on the one hand and equallygreat potential for creative breakthroughs on the other” (Fullan, 2001, p.31). Understanding thechange process serves as thoughtful reflection about the previously introduced urgent sense ofmoral purpose so that ideas are afforded the time needed for full gestation. The race underpacesetting leadership to implement through a step by step process which Fullan disparages as a
McGeehan, Fullan ReviewMarch 10, 20095checklist, acquiesces to the more thoughtful examination of the change process. Resistors andnaysayers have an opportunity to express their concerns and possibly offer useful alternatives atthis more deliberative pace. This second dimension allows the passions of moral purpose tostabilize and be fortified through opportunities for constructive criticism that allow for broaderparticipation in change. Thus the charismatic tendency of moral purpose can yield to the valueof patient listening as practiced by the Goleman’s affiliative and democratic leadership styles(Goleman, 2001). Listening to input from all parties concerned can also lead to suggestedimprovements to the original concept. The result of this effort to listen leads to what Fullan termsrecalculating. Recalculating broadens support for a change initiative by accommodating theconcerns of the resistors.Fullan is correct in his assessment of the need to understand the change process. Toomany organizations rush to implement change only to find their efforts have a very transitoryeffect. Their rush to implementation sacrifices resources needed to sustain the anticipatedimprovements. The status quo would be preferable to momentary change for the next attempt atimprovement will be that much more difficult to implement under such conditions.Fullan’s third critical dimension flows from understanding the change process itself. Inthis environment, relationship building is the expected outcome of listening to other’s concernsand purpose and then acting with a sense of moral purpose. In terms of relative complexity,Masloff’s hierarchy can be shown to have some interesting parallels to the critical dimensions,
McGeehan, Fullan ReviewMarch 10, 20096but that discussion would be reserved for another work. Developing relationships leads toexpanded support for and commitment to change implementation. Relationship building acts asthe impetus to revitalize our sense of moral purpose now that those efforts have enlisted abroader constituency to implement change. In education, relationship building has introducedthe concept of a community of learners. Thus relationships act to sustain change implementationwhile they also give value to information. Fullan introduces this concept through his review ofschool capacity as a key to success (Newmann et.al.2000). This learning community can be thenexus of change as Fullan believes schools must be dedicated to “wide professional learningcommunities” to accomplish this.Fullans fourth critical dimension is knowledge building. He categorizes knowledge aseither tacit or explicit. Explicit knowledge, the literal knowledge of qualitative and quantitativedata and information, is more readily attainable. Tacit knowledge concerns those “skills, beliefsand understanding that are below the level of awareness” (Fullan, 2001, p.81). This knowledgemay be mined only by due diligence. Tacit knowledge access can be achieved as a reward forrelationship building with its dissemination the outcome of that effort. Knowledge building mustlead to its sharing among organization members of “different backgrounds, perspectives andmotivations” (Fullan, p.81) for its enhancement. Conditions for knowledge gaining and sharingstipulate people will share knowledge with moral commitment; people share if the dynamics ofchange favor exchange; and data without relationships merely cause more information glut. Thesuccessful dissemination process itself is addressed in the author’s elements of knowledge
McGeehan, Fullan ReviewMarch 10, 20097exchange: complex, turbulent environments constantly generate messiness and reams of ideas;interacting individuals are the key to accessing and sorting out these ideas; individuals will notengage in sharing unless they find it motivating to do so (Fullan) which echoes Barnard’s belief(Barnard, 1938). Case study accomplishments in knowledge sharing by school systemsdiscussed in this text include the New York City District 2’s intervisitation and peer networksand instructional consulting services; the Edmonton Assessment for Learning and its attendantlearning fair, the Toronto District’s early years literacy project; and York Region of CanadaSchool District’s performance plus and mentor teacher projects.Fullan observes that educational institutions responsible for disseminating learning have a spottyrecord of sharing knowledge. His examples offer hopes this trend may be reversed. District 2 ofNew York City has established an intervisitation program of peer advising and mentoring thatengages the talents of teachers and principals Consultants that Fullan has disparaged in this bookalso participate in the intervisitations. Perhaps he thinks more kindly of the participating districtinternal consultants. Intervisitation has extended outside the district itself with sharing resultingin a catalog of best practices. Peer networks practiced in District 2 have developed a buddysystem among experienced and newer principals to exchange knowledge. The mentoringprogram for principals extends for a period of two years. The Edmonton Catholic Schoolslearning fair offers a more structured event which includes scripted instructions in this text. TheToronto early years literacy project involves a heterogeneous team format for knowledgesharing. York Regions performance plus and mentor projects extend sharing to include student
McGeehan, Fullan ReviewMarch 10, 20098participation.Coherence making, the final critical dimension, goes against the grain of the complexsystems in contemporary organizations which Fullan believes “generate overload and causefragmentation” (Fullan, 2001, p.108). His delineation of coherence making distinguishes it fromthe four leadership dimensions: moral purpose, understanding change, developing relationshipsand building knowledge as a management function whereas the previous dimensions wereleadership based. In a turbulent, chaotic environment the need to gain control is paramount inchange management. This situation leads to a paradox whereby the organization needs to effectlasting change, but does not intend to stifle or to encourage ongoing improvement. Changeindeed has a split personality, as Fullan believes, and can spiral out of control without propermanagement. The mission will be to nurture the organization through moral purpose,understanding the change process, developing relationships and building knowledge, yet managea balance of persistent coherence with productive disturbance so coherence is not lost to theextremes of groupthink and confusion.To foster lasting improvements in education as in any organization, Michael Fullan, likeArgyris (2001) and Gladwell (2002), departs from a common belief in business that leadershipand management are unique traits and that organizations are populated by members who arestrong in one area or another but not both. Fullan believes management and leadership arecomplementary and both characteristics are necessary. Leadership and management aredistinguished by how and when they are applied with management needed to oversee processes
McGeehan, Fullan ReviewMarch 10, 20099in place for efficiency and leadership required when complex problems arise. Once thosecomplexities have been addressed, efficient implementation by effective leadership will lead toan improved, germane process that can be managed for higher productivity until a later need formodification arises. How this will happen is witnessed by examples of successfulimplementation in business and education from the text.Dr. Fullan’s leadership-management combination precludes any expectation of rescue bycharismatic leadership who he believes “inadvertently often do more harm than good” (Fullan,2001, p.2) by their impatience. He believes our systems by nature develop leaders who identifywith quick fixes to understated problems needing expected resolution. Charismatic leadershiphas an ephemeral impact on complex problems not so easily addressed nor quickly resolved;offering no more than a brief interlude before the problem resurfaces. Unlike Gladwell’s TippingPoint, remedies will not be found in band-aid solutions by this author. However, upon readinghis work, there are some areas where those band-aids may suffice in achieving greater clarity.The major theme of Leading a Culture of Change comes in its final chapter. Rather thana reiteration of previous findings that serve as the basis of this work, the text would offer greatervalue from a detailed discussion of material and the theme introduced by its final chapter. Thereis a strong argument for rearranging the structure of this text, particularly since the earlychapters, in essence, reflects his agreement with other researchers studies. Fullan’s criticalelements offer an adaptation with minor change in emphasis on works from the previous decade.Like Kotter (1996) and Gladwell (2000), for example, the sense of urgency remains with its
McGeehan, Fullan ReviewMarch 10, 200910representation in this case as moral purpose. In the final chapter, the allegory of the tortoise andthe hare could serve as the keynote to another book. Slow and steady wins the race is the rallyingcry of the author’s work, a polemic for enduring, deliberate and persistent pursuit of meaningfulchange. He re-emphasizes this key concept in his final sentence, in his command to the tortoises.I find the author’s approach distinctively Canadian as distinguished from the Americanapproach to its school systems. While there are a plethora of agenda items for schoolimprovement in North America, with many excellent programs underway in Canada as well ashere, the Canadian approach seems more anchored for the long term and, from the purview ofsociety, less politicized than the American approach. Our no child left behind approach, as anexample, measures to explicit knowledge with quantifiable outcomes leading to reward orpunishment of the school districts for their test performance. As the tortoise symbolizes the longterm, strategic approach to change, modification by test score measurement reflects a short term,operational approach to change more likely accomplished with hare-like speed. The Americanapproach with no child left behind typically seeks explicit knowledge while the Canadian, and inparticular Fullan’s approach, aims for tacit knowledge. The long range approach offersopportunity for the tactical modifications the author expresses as recalculations as part of theunderstanding change dimension (Fullan, 2001) that can not be reasonably accomplished from ashort-term, operational venue.Fullan belatedly introduces Keats’ negative capability in his final chapter. Negative
McGeehan, Fullan ReviewMarch 10, 200911capability concerns the ability to patiently wait under conditions of uncertainty with theexpectation that patience is ultimately rewarded with understanding. Negative capability wouldcertainly be supportive of a tortoise-like approach to change and would more likely yield tacitknowledge. Furthermore Keats’ approach lends itself to complexity science discussed by Fullanand its traits of self-organizing and strange attractors as a means to latent discovery (Fullan,2001).The value of Leading in A Culture of Change lies not in its innovation for there are no noveltheories emanating from this work. Researchers and practitioners with similar ideas and usefulapplications are quoted extensively throughout the work. This book is more representative of asecond generational work on the subject of change and leadership. Where this text has value isas a workbook for practitioners written by a practitioner as expressed in the following examplesfrom Fullans text.School capacity contributes to meaningful change. Newmann (2000) identifies theelements of school capacity as the faculty’s knowledge, skills and dispositions; the professionalcommunity; organizational integration resulting in program coherence; technical resourcesavailable including material and equipment, space, time and access to innovative concepts; andprincipal leadership. The principal acts as the key player and a leader by acquiring anddisseminating the needed technical resources, recruiting talented faculty and support staff andfostering a professional environment. Here the higher order tactical and strategic skills
McGeehan, Fullan ReviewMarch 10, 200912contribute to the principal’s effectiveness. The principal’s managerial skills then coordinate thiseffort through integrating these tools operationally. The principals leadership skills return toguide through the expected implementation dip. Newmann, like Fullan, accurately depictsschool capacity systemically as a holistic effort and not one bound to a linear progression.This holistic effort finds resonance in Pascale’s living system (Fullan, 2001, p.108-109)which offers the practitioner guidelines for expected behavior in this environment. A livingsystem relies on effective leadership with its emphasis on strategic and tactical acumen. Pascalepronounces equilibrium an undesirable state for a living system as it will likely regress due to itsinsensitivity to the external environmental stimuli represented by change. The leader must keepabreast of these changes in the external environment and maintain organizational sensitivity tothe change. The leader must understand that vibrant, living systems tend toward environmentalchaos under conditions of threat or opportunity. With the living system in this alert state thereare greater opportunities for organizational experimentation which again require a leader’sguidance as system functions restructure to capitalize on opportunities or shield themselves fromthreats. Under conditions where neither threat nor opportunity prevails, the leader assumesresponsibility to create the disturbances necessary to shock the living system from its tranquilstate of equilibrium. The living system thus serves as the platform for the leader and followers toenact change.Since Fullans Leading in a Culture of Change has value as an applied work, I will
McGeehan, Fullan ReviewMarch 10, 200913include my personal experience in the application of his critical dimensions with the M60 to M1battle tank transition with General Dynamics. I accepted a position with General Dynamics in1987 to accomplish the transition from production of the M60 battle tank to the M 1. Thistransition entailed the removal of over three hundred pieces of production equipment and theirreplacement to meet requirements of the M 1 platform. A significant number of these machineswere imbedded in the facility which meant the transition included the reconstruction of thefactory to accommodate the new machinery. All actions had to be accomplished within a timeframe of eighteen months. To expedite the required actions, General Dynamics received adeviation from Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) requirements. Although a FAR deviationappears helpful, no contractor or government personnel were familiar how to apply thisopportunity since a transition of this magnitude had not been accomplished in over two decades.No information about the previous transition remained on record.In an effort to determine ways to apply the FAR deviation, I invited government andsubcontractor personnel to participate in a total quality management (TQM) meeting a fewmonths later. Although I had no more experience with the TQM concept than anyone else at thetime, total quality management had captivated the interest of government personnel. My missionwas to convince both civilian contractor and government personnel that TQM principles couldbe applied to the transition to the M 1 battle tank. All interested parties were invited to a meetingto be held at the General Dynamics facility with the stated purpose to determine how best toapply TQM principles to the objective of a smooth and timely transition to the M 1 battle tank in
McGeehan, Fullan ReviewMarch 10, 200914support of our troops. This objective served as our moral purpose.As a former Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) employee, I understood the contractualobligations of a defense contractor in the disposition of government materials and industrialproperty. Usually this process entailed a six month effort to accomplish. With the eighteenmonth deadline and over three thousand pieces of industrial equipment, including over threehundred items of industrial plant equipment, government regulations could not accomplish thistask within the time available. For this reason, I shared logistic information with governmentpersonnel in an effort to find a more efficient way to apply the FAR deviation. Sharedinformation included transportation, procurement, storage and material handling timelines andassociated expenses. Government and civilian contractor personnel searched for ways toaccommodate contractual requirements while reducing the six month disposition cycle to nomore than sixty days, or one third the time normally required. We engaged in model II thinking(Argyris, 1990) to identify ways to accommodate the needs of all parties concerned whilesharing knowledge necessary to accomplish those tasks. From the first meeting attendeesfocused on a respect for the needs of all parties involved while suggesting ways to streamlineexisting processes through the FAR deviation. Focus on this task and the recognition received byparticipating government personnel led to relationship building in this ongoing effort. Soon wewere scheduling cross-training opportunities and invited Department of Defense (DoD)personnel to conduct joint training at the battle tank facility.
McGeehan, Fullan ReviewMarch 10, 200915The first TQM meeting led to improved practices in support of a smooth M 1 tanktransition. Subsequent semi-annual meetings in Detroit and Philadelphia led to furtherimprovements in government contract regulations. Other contractors, including General Electricand Bendix Corporation, expressed interest in participating and were invited. The secondmeeting introduced a Pentagon representative, Mr. James Kordes, representing theUndersecretary of Defense. By the third meeting, our moral purpose had been accomplished andM 1 production was underway. Coherence making with regard to the battle tank transition hadbeen accomplished. However, we continued the meetings in the spirit of continuous processimprovement. Cross training opportunities were exploited and the list of invitees expanded sothat, four years later, the meeting was held in Albuquerque, NM with Department of Energy,Bureau of Indian Affairs and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration personnel inregular attendance. Meetings were disbanded after 1992 with the national performance initiativenow underway.Lessons learned from the TQM meeting experience support the value of leadership in aculture of change. There are neither steadfast procedures nor linear processes in place tocapitalize on such opportunities. Like Fullans book, the task at hand unfolds like detective workrather than an adventure where the patient leader applies the tools available at the appropriatetimes with the recommended slow and steady dispatch.
McGeehan, Fullan ReviewMarch 10, 200916BibliographyArgyris, Chris. (1990). Overcoming organizational defenses: Facilitating organizationallearning. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, Inc.Barnard, Chester. (1938). The functions of the executive. Thirtieth Anniversary Edition, 1968.Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Biernbaum, Robert. (1988.) How colleges work: The cybernetics of academic organization andleadership. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Fullan, Michael. (2001). Leading in a culture of change. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Gladwell, Malcolm. (2000). The tipping point: How little things can make a big difference.New York: Little, Brown and Company.Goleman, Daniel, Boyatzis, Richard and McKee, Annie. (2002). Primal learning: Realizing thepower of emotional intelligence. Boston: Harvard Business Press.Kotter, John P. (1996). Leading change. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.