Way back in late 2014, I had just finished reading Michael Allen’s Designing Successful e-Learning: Forget What You Know About Instructional Design and Do Something Interesting and was writing in this journal about some of the interesting ideas within. One of the really interesting ideas was about the importance of change management. Allen based some of his ideas on this subject from David Rock, so I paused my reflections on Allen to read Rock. A year and a half later, with other digressions and interruptions, I’m finally back to Allen. What did I learn along the way?

(A) Change management as a science is in its infancy. Rock comes at change management from a 1:1 coaching perspective, which is useful and critically important, but not the whole story by a long shot. I’d love to see a comprehensive model that combines what we know about problem solving, cognitive biases, motivation, and coaching into one big “how people work” thesis.

It was interesting to be on this reading journey during the time when researchers created a sensation by figuring out the magic formula for change, only to see them discredited for forging their data.

(B) People use logic to justify their opinions, not necessarily to form them. This line of reasoning was articulated most clearly, I think, in a book I read a few years ago called The Happiness Hypothesis. That’s important to know because logic alone can’t change opinions.

(C) People tend to seek out evidence of their own competence and discount disconfirming evidence. From an instructional perspective, this makes change management extra tricky because it leaves learners predisposed to believe they aren’t the ones who need to change. Rock makes this point really well.

That model I referred to in (A), above, that ties everything together? The reason that may will never happen is because…

(D) …people are complex. This is something I reflected on a lot while reading Rock, as I thought about how I would react in the situations he describes and realized that while I would sometimes react in line with his narrative, I’m sure sometimes I wouldn’t. We’re all different, and we know when we are being change managed, creating a meta layer to this that itself adds uncertainty.

I guess re-reading what I wrote above, it feels like I didn’t learn much. So much unknown. But that’s OK; the journey’s the thing.


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