Navigating the Challenges of MIS Migration: Kurt Lewin’s Theory of Change
In the dynamic landscape of education, change is an inevitable and necessary part of growth. As the Director of IT, embracing change and leading it effectively is crucial to my role. Over the years, I’ve found that Kurt Lewin’s Theory of Change Management serves as an invaluable tool to guide this process.
Kurt Lewin, a renowned social psychologist, developed a simple yet powerful model for understanding and managing change. His model, often depicted as a three-stage process of “unfreeze-change-refreeze”, has been instrumental in helping me to bring about positive outcomes within our school. Below is how I used Kurt Lewin’s change management theory to implement the MIS migration at my current school.
Unfreeze: Recognizing the Need for Change
Lewin’s first stage, ‘unfreezing,’ involves recognizing the need for change and preparing the organisation to accept it. In the context of my role as Director of IT, this often means identifying outdated or inefficient systems, whether they are hardware, software, or operational procedures. It’s about acknowledging where we are and where we need to be, and the gaps that exist in between. This requires open dialogues with staff and students, staying abreast of technological advancements, and regularly reviewing our IT infrastructure and strategies. During this stage I would normally have an open forum about the current state of technology. In my case the decision to change the MIS was already approved. I used the Unfreeze stage to highlight what did not work and how the new system could solve the problems we were running away from.
Change: Implementing and Managing the Change
Once the need for change has been accepted, Lewin’s second stage, ‘change,’ comes into play. This stage is about transitioning from the old way of doing things to a new one. It requires careful planning, clear communication, and supportive leadership. As per my previous article I introduced the RACI matrix. As the IT Director, my role is to ensure that the changes are implemented smoothly and to mitigate any disruption to learning. Training was crucial and this involved staff training for new software, gradual rollouts of new systems, or providing additional support for those struggling with the change. During this process it became clear that we needed a support position and an MIS Coordinator was posted internally.
Refreeze: Sustaining the Change
The final stage of Lewin’s model, ‘refreezing,’ is about making the new changes a standard part of the school’s operations. It’s about ensuring the changes are sustainable and become the new ‘norm.’ Documentation is key here. Once the process has been frozen, documenting the processes and having them easily accessible will be key. We use Google for Education solutions. We made Google Chrome the default browser and pushed out a landing page with relevant and most links via a purpose designed landing page. For me, this involves continuous monitoring, evaluation, and tweaking of the new systems or procedures. It’s essential to keep the lines of communication open, soliciting feedback from users, and making necessary adjustments to refine and improve the system.
By leveraging Kurt Lewin’s Theory of Change Management, I’ve been able to effectively steer the school’s IT department through various changes. Whether it’s implementing a new learning management system, upgrading our network infrastructure, or introducing a new IT policy, this model has been instrumental in ensuring these changes are accepted, implemented, and sustained effectively.
In conclusion, change, while often challenging, is a necessary component of growth and improvement. As the IT Director of an international school, using tools like Lewin’s change management model enables me to lead these changes effectively, ultimately contributing to a positive and advanced learning environment.