By: Michael Fullan
There can be little doubt that we are currently living in a rapidly changing society. Advanced technology and integrated communication systems have made the world seem smaller than ever before. For leaders and organizations to thrive, they need to embrace change and respond to the evolving needs of a dynamic society. Be that as it may, it is actually quite ironic that change in itself is one of the hardest things to effectively implement. Whether you are in a public service such as education, or run a multimillion dollar corporation…people will resist change because it is inherently seen as uncomfortable and threatening. So, considering this paradox, what are leaders to do in order for their organizations to truly succeed? Indeed, as Michael Fullan puts it in his book The Six Secrets of Change, how can leaders help their organizations survive and thrive?
In his work, Fullan identifies the six secrets of change as:
1. Love your employees
2. Connect peers with purpose
3. Capacity building prevails
4. Learning is the work
5. Transparency rules
6. Systems learn
Essentially, the six secrets which are outlined are pretty much interrelated and dependent upon one another. For instance, loving your employees means more than just caring for and taking an interest in them. In actuality, it is about making sure they have goals which will enhance their own satisfaction and quality of life, as well as the success of the organization. However, that “secret” is also very closely interconnected with each of the other five which are outlined in the book. It is indubitably about how to build people up in order to run a successful organization. It is all about how great organizations are fair, transparent, collaborative systems which are always building up others in a cycle of continual learning. As Fullan clearly outlines- great systems are always learning!
The ideas which are presented are undoubtedly sound. As a school Principal myself I understand the importance of building capacity and sharing leadership within the school. Building and maintaining relationships with staff is critically important. As Fullan aptly points out, for the children to benefit you must build up the staff who supports them. There can be little argument that his six “secrets” are effective ways to develop people which will in turn benefit the whole organization.
In truth, I have read many of Michael Fullan’s books in my role as a school principal. His ideas and theories are typically quite well thought out, but can be difficult to fully implement at times. Perhaps the greatest reason that they can be hard to bring into play is that age old pesky problem of resistance to change. I believe this is where the book lets the reader down. There really are not any solid strategies suggested for change management. It is essentially all about developing an organization by building up the people. Precious little is devoted to change resistance and the many obstacles which this can bring. As such it is certainly not one of my favorite Michael Fullan books…and I do have many!
3 mediocre stars for “The Six Secrets of Change.”