Aaron Day leads leadership seminar at BC

On Wednesday, Oct. 25, Dr. Aaron Day hosted a leadership seminar at Bellevue College entitled “Accepting Change.” This seminar was orchestrated around the concept of Organizational Change, which in Day’s words can be defined as “altering the present form of the organization in order to become a better form. It can occur anytime there is a modification to processes, mission or strategic function.” This also describes the concept of the Kotter approach, which lists eight steps during the change process. These are establishing a sense of urgency, forming a powerful guiding coalition, creating a vision, communicating the vision, empowering others to act on said vision, planning for and creating short-term wins, consolidating improvements to produce more change, and institutionalizing new approaches.
The Kotter approach also comes with conditions to success. For example, no shortcuts are allowed and all stages in the approach are necessary. Another strong point is that according to Day’s presentation, “75 percent of managers must believe ‘the status quo is more dangerous than the unknown.’” Other points made include that communication needs to be multi-channeled and continuous, and managers need to be positive role models. John Kotter, the man behind the Kotter approach also wrote a book entitled “Our Iceberg is Melting,” which was mentioned in the presentation. The book is a fable about a penguin who notices that the iceberg he and his colony are on could be melting. In Kotter’s words, “it’s a book about a changing world and how people can change with it or not change.” The book also includes problems that organizations run into when they are trying to facilitate changes, as well as clever solutions Kotter has seen work.
Day’s presentation also touches on why change initiatives fail. He explained that the traditional perceptions of people who resist change are often troublesome, difficult, uninterested and problematic. To further define what resistance to change really is, he stated that it is “human opposition to a change, which is filled with a range of emotions that cause discomfort and doubt. The feelings can be expressed verbally or non-verbally. Some emotions include anger, frustration, disappointment and surprise. Emotional resistance has been identified as a top reason for change failures.”
On top of that, Day also talked about some of the causes of the resistance to change. These include the ability for change to burn people out as well as the possibility for change having an impact on their personal lives. Resistance could also stem from a fear of failure or a lack of trust in the leadership. However, Day also described some counters to the resistance. These include listening to concern, communicating openly and honestly, sharing data and information, embracing emotional resistance, identifying and eliminating the foreign threat, building a network through positive interactions, and creating a communications plan that addresses emotional aspects.