Leadership is getting someone to do what they don’t want to do, to achieve what they want to achieve. - Tom Landry
... it ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new. - Machiavelli
We are currently undertaking two major projects in our district that will impact lots of staff members. We are installing 157 mounted LCD projectors and 120 interactive white boards between now and winter break throughout the district. And we are switching our e-mail service from Microsoft Exchange to GoogleMail and providing GoogleApps for Education to faculty.
While every effort has been made to plan well, get buy-in, provide information and make these changes as easy on everyone as possible, there will be a learning curve for all, nervousness by many, dissatisfaction for some, and outright resistance by a few. We'll have missed some problems in our planning and implementation no matter how diligent we try to be and every problem will not be immediately solvable. And I, as tech director, will be pretty much the focus for those who don't like change - or at least these changes.
I will hear about it - either directly from the aggrieved or via my boss, the superintendent, relaying complaints indirectly.
I don't know about you, but I get little satisfaction from knowing something I've done is making others unhappy.* Like most folks, I prefer days filled with compliments rather than criticisms. I know over the next few weeks I am in for some pretty long days of getting verbally beat up about installations, migrations, training (usually lack thereof), additional work, and plain old differences in how things are done. What makes things harder is that some of the complaints will be deserved.
But having gone through big technology implementations before, I know that in only a couple months the vast majority of those impacted will be very glad that the changes happened. Teachers will be pleased with their projectors and SmartBoards. Principals will be happier with the flexibility of the GoogleCalendar. Techs will be happy not to have to deal with overflowing e-mail storage spaces. Everyone will appreciate the ease and power of collaborating with GoogleApps.
And the district will be more effective because of these changes.
But getting through the next couple months will be tough. I see why:
- It's easier to advocate for big changes when you don't actually have to make them happen.
- It's more psychically difficult to advocate for big changes the more you've done - why many people seem to take a long glide path into retirement.
- It's essential to have faith that what you are doing is in the best interest of students and staff.
- That never attempting to change anything would lead to a pretty damn boring existence. I suspect that most changes are made by those of us when students who rather get attention for bad behavior than no attention at all.
Any secrets for maintaining one's sanity when "undertaking an order of new things," as Niccolo put it?
*With rare exception - there are always a few people it is fun to royally piss-off. They turn such interesting colors of red and blue.