Tools for Successful Change

Sometimes when we don’t have the right tool for the job it makes things 10 times harder than they need to be or we fail entirely. Just ask my husband this question and he can give you many frustrating DIY experiences. Many times our work initiatives fail or prove more difficult because we are not using the right tools. Over the last 5 weeks, I have been studying three books that I believe will give me the right tools for the job of seeing my implementation plan come to life.

Know your Why


Michael Jr. is a comedian who attends my church and performs all over the country. I love how this video demonstrates what I’ve been studying about knowing your why. To start this journey, I had to identify my why. The reason for my implementation plan is that I believe student’s deserve an environment that should be positive, engaging and foster a love learning. To do this, I want to develop a blended learning plan in my SS team. When I get bogged down in the day to day implementation and other demands of my job, I have to remember my why. That’s the first tool in my box.

Influencing Change

In order to influence the change I am seeking with this blended learning plan, I’m using tools laid out in the book, Influencer: The new science of leading change. Utilizing the strategies in the book, I created a plan to clarify what my team will be trying to achieve, how we will measure our achievement and what vital behaviors we need to focus on to achieve the goal. In addition, I updated the 6 sources of influence I plan on using to help our team to perform the vital behaviors needed to change to the new system  of learning.

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Putting the Plan into Action

The “whirlwind” of school’s day to day business has started and it is easy to see that all of the plans I’ve come up with could be lost in the shuffle. I have binders and books on my shelf of many great ideas that never got off the ground because of this “whirlwind”.

The 4DX model helped me to create an execution plan for my team to follow this year as we go about implementation. It should be stated that I have the challenge of a new team that was formed just this week after I had created and reviewed my implementation plan with my former teammates. I will be holding WIG sessions with my new team as soon as possible to agree upon this WIG, lead measures and the implementation plan. These are the ideas that I will present to my team:


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Leadership and Crucial Conversations

Leading change can be a daunting proposition and as I stated earlier the ideas can easily get lost and the stress of day to day work can interfere with the plans. Neuroscientist Daniel Levitin explained in his TedTalk, How to stay calm when your stressed, that we do not perform at our best when we are stressed. He suggests we should put systems(tools) in place to prepare for what could happen. I’ve already laid out the systems using the Influencer and 4DX. The last system(tool) important to helping my plan succeed is using Crucial Conversations and being a self-differentiated leader.

Self-differentiated leaders control their emotions and are aware of others. I will need to be able to recognize my emotions in this process. I feel strongly about implementing blended learning but I as a self-differentiated leader I have to be cognizant and make myself aware of others emotions. According to the video, Friedman’s Theory of Differentiated Leadership Made Simple, well-differentiated leaders can maintain their emotions and stay out of emotional struggles. Leaders can infect their organization when they are “poorly-differentiated.” These types of leaders can increase emotional anxiety. If emotional anxiety spreads then our WIGS are not likely to be met.

I plan on using ideas from the book, Crucial Conversations to make sure that I am the self-differentiated leader needed for my team. I am working in a new team dynamic from last year. I want to lay the groundwork for open, honest communication. The CC framework will help me do that with my department team as well as working with the school leadership team. When stress enters the picture having a crucial conversation is another system(tool) we will have in place to ensure our meetings are productive and our plan is moving forward.

When the stakes are high(achieving our goal), opinions vary(differing ideas about how to go about it), and emotions run strong(people are feeling unsafe) the steps to having a crucial conversation will be vital to move our team forward. Since I haven’t been able to share much of my implementation plan with my new team I know there is a high probability of having these types of conversations.

I’ve outlined the steps I plan on using to have crucial conversations when needed:

  1. Listen to everyone’s input (shared pool of meaning)
  2. Start with me and keep the focus on the issue/problem at hand
  3. Recognize signs our conversation has become crucial, things are unsafe for team members to share
  4. Create safety for myself and my team to share thoughts and concerns
  5. Take control of my emotions and turn them into a path of action
  6. Speak directly yet respectful explaining that path
  7. Be open to others ideas that might lead us in a different direction
  8. We make a plan to move from talking to actions

Embarking on this change will be no easy feat. There are many variables and obstacles ahead. Blended learning is something I am passionate about and really believe will be a great plan to help students. As the leader of this movement in my department, I believe that using the systems of the Influencer, 4DX and Crucial Conversations will increase my team’s likelihood of achieving our goals and creating new ones going forward.


Bardwell, Matthew. (2010, Nov. 10). Friedman’s Theory of Differentiated Leadership Made Simple. (Video File). Retrieved from:

Grenny, J., Patterson, K., Maxfield, D., McMillan, R., & Switzler A. (2013). Influencer: The new science of leading change. New York: McGraw Hill Education.

Jr., Michael. (2017, Jan. 8) Knowing Your Why. (Video File). Retrieved from:

Levitin, Daniel. (2015, Nov. 23). How to stay calm when you know you’ll be stressed. (Video File). Retrieved from:

McChesney, C., Covey, S., & Huling, J. (2012). The 4 disciplines of execution: Achieving your wildly important goals. New York, NY: Free Press.

Patterson, K., Grenny, J., McMillan, R., & Switzler, A. (2012). Crucial Conversations: Tools for talking when the stakes are high. Columbus, OH: McGraw Hill.










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