Education Is Where Change Really Happens

By Sheila Roberts

Today I heard someone saying on the radio that Education is where change really happens. They were not referring to organisational change but it applies equally to most areas of change. Drucker’s saying ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast’ has held true through decades. So what changes in culture would enable strategy to be delivered? A key is education – whether formal or informal. It could be as simple as discussing the benefits of change or something deeper or wider.

Many organisations focus on change management, with good reason, as change tends to be difficult to implement and make successful. But why are we changing? I suggest it is for the organisation to make progress.

All organisations have a purpose of making progress, whether this is measured financially, in satisfaction feedback, recommendations or achievement of goals. If progress is to be made we know we need to change but sharing what progress looks like is vital. In this way progress can be seen as change with purpose. 

Another way is to consider managing benefits which are important, as these are the measurable improvements resulting from a change. Again it is not the whole story of progress but a critical contributor. Progress is made when we can deliver more customer (or client) value, more efficiently. Education is what brings these elements together and so learning or training is the first step on the road to progress. Learning about having the customer at the heart of everything we do as an organisation educates us about what our customers’ value. Learning effective delivery methods enables us to be educated about how to deliver value efficiently. The application of this learning enables us to make progress.

Fortunately, we can learn from the successes of organisations that have grasped this challenge before us, often with best practice methods. This does not mean that all delivery should use agile linear, or hybrid projects, or Scrum development. It does mean understanding the best method to use given the customer, situation and changes required. Education is wider than how to deliver the change but also why, how it will work and who will do what, in the new system. The risks of change must be understood as must how to manage in a changing environment. Covid has demonstrated how the ever increasing scale of VUCA conditions all challenge being able to make progress more simply making changes. Progress inevitably involves change, but change is more than the equivalent of progress.

Education is where change really happens, as this is what changes the culture and enables progress to be made. Education about the impact of a pandemic virus has enabled greater change to how we work than most people would have thought possible in such a short time and further education will bring more changes which will enable progress to be made, whatever the VUCA environment at the time. CUPE International has more than twenty years of delivering educational success using change projects and providing customer value. In today’s VUCA environment we are building and sharing our experience to deliver progress.