In the past 20+ years, I’ve had the privilege to implement many different technology initiatives. From the early days of issuing teachers laptops to installing interactive whiteboards to rolling out a learning management system and a “bring your own technology” program, I have covered hardware to software to processes and policies. Here are a few of my learnings that can make or break an implementation…
- Engage stakeholders.
- Go slow to go fast.
- It takes 3 years minimum to achieve fidelity.
- Consider all aspects of school operations that may be impacted.
- Celebrate milestones and successes.
I’ve been involved in the top-down approach to starting a new implementation and while I understand the need for such activities, there is very little about them that leads to easy success. The best way to ensure success is to gather stakeholder buy-in and I mean ALL stakeholders – students, parents, teachers and leaders. Be transparent and communicate, communicate, communicate! Consider the impact of the initiative on every group and make sure you’ve got representation involved in the process of planning for and roll-out the implementation.
Go slow to go fast
Doing everything all at once leads to doing lots of things at a mediocre level. By planning a slow and incremental roll-out, you can ease people into the change and build their confidence. Don’t overwhelm users with trying to learn every aspect of a new application or hardware all at once. Try to break it into bite-sized chunks. In my experience adults need to feel early success or they will shut down and quit trying to change.
It takes 3 years minimum to achieve fidelity.
Because of my experience with lots of different implementations, I’ve found that expecting to have achieved complete transition in one year is usually a recipe for frustration and miscommunication. The first year usually means that some predominance of users are trying to hang onto the old and resisting the change which then mutates into awareness and exploration. As users go through the first professional learning experiences and hear from colleagues about the change, there will be tentative steps towards the new implementation. In year two, more and more people adopt and use the new implementation regularly. There are stories of success that become pervasive. Users begin to adopt additional functions within the new system. And then in the third year, the implementation hits the level of fidelity that http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/sept93/vol51/num01/The-Stages-of-Systemic-Change.aspx matches the original vision.
Consider all aspects of school operations that may be impacted.
It’s critical to review and plan for the ways in which a new initiative will impact other areas of school operations. Does this make more work for teachers? Or less? Is there a way to stop doing something so that there is time and energy for starting the new? Have stakeholders in other divisions within the district been engaged as needed to be part of the new initiative? These are critical factors t5. o ensuring success.
Celebrate milestones and successes
Be sure to take time along the way to notice how far you’ve come in the implementation. So publish stories of success within the district, to the community, to the school board and beyond. Share your story with other districts so the education community as a whole can learn from your journey.
With some preparation and careful management, you can ensure success in implementing new initiatives.