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Katherine Kott

Your model looks to me like it is informed by Bowen theory, which I use in my organization development work. It is an interesting model and I would love to learn more.

Amy Oden

I would love to join this conversation but don't feel like I understand enough to even dive in. That's one of the reasons I want to participate in the next deans colloquy. Israel's description provides a helpful model and I grasp it conceptually. But as I try to imagine illustrations in my own context I'm a bit lost. It helps to see examples from others to get me thinking concretely. Thanks all.


Thank you, Rich. The categories offered are illustrative, but below are brief descriptions of each (these are off the top of my head so you can come up with better):
Programmatic. Change related to delivery methods or content focus. Ill.: Adding a degree program, a concentration, or eliminating one. Or, changing facets related to a program (refining program goals, or requirements, etc.).
Administrative. Change related to how processes are handled or structures are managed. Ill.: initiating a new procedure for handling tasks or decisions.
Organizational. Change in the organizational structure. Ill.: adding a staff office, eliminating a position or office, adding the organization needed as a result of programmatic changes.
Structural. Change related to organizational models. Ill. changing from a family-style congregation to a pastoral-style congregation, or, a pastoral-style congregation to a programmatic-style congregation, etc. Perhaps, changing from a free-standing seminary to a university-based theological school.
Cultural. Changing communal values, habits of practice, attitudes, assumptions, predilections, prejudices. Ill.: Bringing about an attitudinal and behavioral change as a result of a clarification or adoption of a corporate value.
Developmental. Change that assumes natural "progress" or "growth." Ill.: growing larger as an institution (the same, only more and bigger), or, successfully navigating an institutional lifespan stage (e.g., from adolescent to mature).
Evolutionary. Change that impacts the nature of the organization and reframes its mission. Ill. Changing from "college" to "university. In contrast to developmental change where a college or university retains its mission but merely grows larger. " For a congregation, changing from a neighborhood-family church to an Urban church.

There is more nuance to seek for each beyond those simple descriptions. You are correct to identify that change has systemic integration. A change at one level impacts, to some extent, change in another. And you correctly identify the pragmatic importance of understanding the dynamic. Indeed, very often one needs to bring about or address change in one category, level, or domain in order to bring about change in another. Often, a direct assault is not effective. The more common error, in my experience, is not clearly identifying the kind (level) and nature of change one is working toward. Typically it leaves one momentarily satisfied with the evidence of change at a surface level only to later realize that no real change has actually occurred where where needed.

Posted 3/2/12; submitted again 3/8/12


Israel Galindo

Sarah, thanks for sharing that experience. It seems a good example for the insight that while we all know that change is difficult, we often don't appreciate just how difficult it can be. Recently I became aware that despite confronting significant challenges that have been requiring change at many levels, and despite constant "education" about seismic changes in the field of education and theological education, and despite messages from seminary leadership about the need for change, some were assuming that we are making changes in some areas in order to "stay the same" in others. That is, they were fine accommodating changes at one level as long as changes did not happen at other levels. Or, "I'm fine with change in general as long as I don't have to change."


Richard Weis

Dear Israel,

Thanks for a great start to this new blog. (And thanks to Wabash and the first dean's colloquy for setting it up!) Change is certainly an appropriate topic in these times. I'm wondering if you would be willing to unpack the definitions of each level of change in the diagram. Some seem clearer than others. I also would say that in my experience these layers are not always neatly separable. For example, I might aim at a change of culture by means of a set of administrative changes, and that change of culture, which necessarily affects relationships (emotional process?), might be needed to make a programmatic change flourish. Sorry if this is still keeping us the abstract level when you want to get to the concrete.


Sarah B. Drummond

Just today, I met with our two librarians, one of whom informed me earlier this week of her plans to retire. We had good conversations about the change that will come. But both librarians were surprised at first to hear that we wouldn't simply replace the retiring librarian but would rather take time to consider the vision for the library's future. Surprisingly, I actually had to slow a process down rather than pressure faster action.

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