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Develop a Culture of Change

In the last two years with the pandemic and COVID-19 and the new outbreak of Omicron, it has been terrible times. It has led to lockdowns around the world that have shaken education and society. Young children and students, in particular, have had to and continue to bear the burden of private isolation, school closures, and lack of social contact. During this time, the entire education system was questioned. Questions have been raised about the role of education and the values and promises on which our current education system is based. There are urgent calls for transformation and cultural change as already existing problems in the education system became visible and surfaced due to the pandemic. Quality in universities has been practiced around the world for a long time. In the face of COVID -19, they are faced with being seen as outdated, obsolete, or irrelevant as the entire role of universities is questioned. There is therefore also an urgent need to rethink what a university might mean by quality of impact, outcomes, satisfaction, sustainability, resilience, changing core values, and digital transformation. Issues of health and wellbeing have become an indicator of quality. So it's time to drive sustainable improvement in organizational performance and health. Organizational change at the institutional level is necessary because education must respond to an ever-changing environment. It is time to develop a future-proof organization with a culture that can sustain superior performance.

Change is often best achieved through the convergence of bottom-up (grassroots initiatives; likely faculty in higher education) and top-down (individuals in positions of power; administration). This model outlines three phases of culture change that are not necessarily linear (Kezar, 2013):

  • Mobilize - developing initial awareness of the need for change (data); creating a vision; mobilizing support for change through discussion; mobilizing leadership and collective action.
  • Implement - selecting strategies; piloting projects; changing policies, processes, and structures; professional development; evaluating and refocusing results; celebrating successes; scaling up or down
  • Institutionalize - disseminate results; review; commit; follow-through

You Matter, more than you think

You Matter, more than you think, is a crucial core value for a change. All change starts with you. Your values, your attitudes, and your mind are the starting point for change. You can not just wait for someone else to get started, or for a policy or strategy to effect change. Making a difference requires a change in culture and systems to bring about truly sustainable change.

You have to be the change and to design the change and lead with change

Leadership is critical to change and transformation because it starts with culture. It takes a lot of courage and creativity to challenge old patterns, systems, and paradigms. But you can also learn that you can train that courage. It is critical to be trained to be a values-based leader who is able to activate the agency and potential of the people around you to develop transformative solutions. The narratives we create make a difference, and this is where you matter more than you think. So how you design projects that solve problems, change cultures and systems, and bring to life what people really care about matters. It is critical to use common, powerful language to change disempowering conversations and narratives and develop a network of deep, value-based partnerships for results. It is also important to implement solutions in ways that create and support new patterns for thriving futures.

In times of crisis, profound questions arise, and deep down we all have an idea of what is important. For many people, it is important to be alive, to feel connected, and to feel that we matter and that our lives have meaning. We share an innate longing for justice, dignity, compassion, and love." - You are more important than you think, (Karen O'Brien, 2022. p.2).

You Matter More Than You Think is part of an initiative we call The Quantum Leap Initiative. The goal is to create a space for new conversations and to support and inspire practices and paradigms that create transformative change.