Change management

Change is endemic in the education sector. The pressures for change come from all sides: globalisation, changes to the funding and regulatory regime, doing more with less, improving the quality of student learning and the learning experience, and the pace of change is ever increasing. Living with change and managing change is an essential skill for all.

Change is also difficult. There are many different types of change and different approaches to managing change. It is a topic subject to more than its fair share of management fads, quick fixes and guaranteed win approaches. Finding an approach that suits you and your situation goes to the heart of being an effective and professional manager in the education sector. We hope that this resource will help you in this challenge.

The following diagram describes the general route through the materials in the Kit:

Route through the Change Management infoKit
Route through the Change Management infoKit

This infoKit was originally developed in 2006 out of a HEFCE Good Management Practice Project led by the University of Luton (now the University of Bedfordshire) entitled ‘Effecting Change in Higher Education’. The project team consulted widely on aspects of change in the sector and put together theories, approaches and tools that resonated with them and with those they talked to about their experiences of the practical difficulties of managing change.

The ‘Effecting Change’ team summarise their findings by the following observations:

  • There are no easy solutions
  • Adapt processes to suit the change intended
  • Change requires teamwork and leadership (and the two are related)
  • Work with the culture (even when you want to change it)
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate

In the 2014 update we have amended the core model and associated resources with more evidence-based research from projects involving large-scale change, focusing on: organisational efficiency, the student experience, business and community engagement and environmental performance.

Change usually involves three aspects: people, processes and culture as shown in the figure.

Often the emphasis has been on the processes – get the processes right and everything else will follow. In this resource we have attempted to redress the balance to acknowledge the importance of each aspect.

There are no easy solutions or quick fixes in the infoKit but we have attempted to give you some pathways through the vast array of approaches and tools available by suggesting activities you may undertake at different stages of your change lifecycle.

This infoKit assumes you will be approaching your change activity as a project and we make frequent reference to the P3M suite of resources on project, programme and portfolio management for guidance on a structured approach. We also reference the infoKits on Risk Management and Process Improvement.