Three (Not So) Easy Steps to Prepare for Change

Are you ready?

On Friday my little world at Trinity Western University suddenly and dramatically changed. My boss, the Provost, was let go without warning. Did it bother me? Yes. Did it throw me off? No. Will it affect the Registrar’s Office? You bet it will. Can we handle that? Yes.

But we might not have been able to handle this 4 years ago. Ok, let me be real about it. Yes we would have been able to handle it because people have extraordinary resources that they don’t even realize – but it would have been extremely difficult and we would have lost key staff members over it.

So what’s changed in those four years? Only one thing: we took the time to get ready.  And now we pride ourselves on being light on our feet and able to handle big changes.

How did we do this?

  1. We hired the best people we could afford, people with the right attitude and skills to do almost anything we asked. In Jim Collins’ language, we got the right people on the bus. Sometimes this meant we did without until the right person came along, but we were patient and committed to getting the best.
  2. We worked hard to get our systems running smoothly, which gave our staff some margins around their time and jobs so they can make adjustments. In Stephen Covey’s language, this meant they could stop fighting the fires of the urgent, and could start focusing on the important parts of their work.
  3. We focused on building trust – trust in ourselves and our team’s abilities – but also earning trust from the rest of the university. In Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner’s language, this meant we developed credibility. People no longer avoided us and worked around us, but started to come to us and work with us and even proposed ideas to us (that’s when you really know the foundation of credibility has been laid).

When the news came with a resounding crash, we jumped a little and then said, “It’s ok, we can handle this. We’re ready for anything.” That’s a good place to be.




6 thoughts on “Three (Not So) Easy Steps to Prepare for Change

  1. Grant,

    Can you plan a future blog (or blogs) on the issue of building trust? I find this a Sisyphus-esque task and would like to know what you have learned about a) making it easier to roll the boulder up the hill and b) making it stay there longer!


      1. I wonder why they are called pithy?

        1) Trust leaks! or maybe better Trust erodes.
        2) Trust is shatters easily.
        3) Trust is recency biased when broken, but primacy biased when holding.


  2. Grant,

    Been there twice in the past 8 months – you have a great perspective so will do fine but don’t feel shy about calling out to the rest of us for help – we are all here.



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