Changes, Changes!

Posted by jlubans on September 02, 2014

Caption: A farewell photo.

And "Changes, Changes!" could well have been a better title for my Leading Change (Pārmaiņu vadība), August 25-28, 2014 seminar in Latvia. (See below* for the Summary Abstract from the agenda.)
First, there was a last minute change in the venue site. Our new venue, “Laimes Ligzda” (Happy Nest) was not far from the original venue and, as change sometimes turns out, a change for the better: smaller, more intimate, an equally beautiful terrain of forest, ponds and fields and – a bit of karma here – only 8 kilometers away from where I was born!
Another change agent was the weather, surprise!
I’d planned the agenda to be spent outdoors about a third of the 3.5 days, but the autumnal mists, chilly drizzles, sporadic downpours and gusting winds made staying inside a better option.

Caption: The “Happy Nest”, our venue near Cēsis, Latvia.

Of course, some of the events – e.g., a 60 minute paired “walk and talk” into the forest – would not work indoors. As change sometimes requires, we had to improvise, juggle the agenda, extrapolate on the planned activities, and to keep an eye out for sunshine to get a few outside moments.
We managed. By we I mostly mean the participants whose engaged involvement never faltered, unaffected by changes, changes!
My seminars depend on this – engagement and involvement and focus by participants. Otherwise, we don’t accomplish half of what we set out to achieve. I saw numerous examples of creative resourcefulness, insightful transfers from theory to problem solving tasks, and relationship building.
Here are a few pictures that might get across some of what I am trying to say:
Caption: Scoring and changing, applying Deming's PDSA change concept.
Caption: Throwers strategizing.
Caption: Teamwork.

Finally, as an indicator of how the seminar went, here’s the plus/delta, an ending exercise in which participants get to tell me what worked and what could have been better:

Plus/Delta (BTW, the word for Change)
Variety of method
Presentations by students at end of seminar
Rasma (translator)
Books/Reports/Drawings by students
Organization of seminar
All motion games
Not too much theory
Theory and practice
Film (Dream Team 1935) “Sapņu komanda 1935”
Food, Fire, Rooms, & Pirts (sauna).
Personal contact among participants
Beautiful setting
Weather (rain, cloudy, cool, windy). This one delta was also acknowledged as a plus.

Sponsored by the University of Latvia, its Library and the Department of Information and Library Studies in the Faculty of Social Sciences under the leadership of Dr. Iveta Gudakovska and Dr. Baiba Holma.

Together, we will consider theories of change, leadership, followership, team development, conflict, staff empowerment, and motivation. We will examine these topics from both internal and external perspectives, using our expertise from inside the library profession and pursuing ideas from outside our profession. Topics will be explored through readings, lectures, small group guided discussions, interspersed with films. Our venue, “Laimes Ligzda”, provides a unique setting in which to take time for self-reflection and team projects as we learn how we lead/follow and want to lead/follow to achieve organizational goals, to bring about changes for the better.

Course objectives and Individual goals are three-fold:
1. New ideas and strategies in leading, following and introducing and managing change will be compared and contrasted to traditional management principles. What do I keep, what will I add to my management style? How can I manage successful change and how can I avoid failing at change efforts.
2. Networking will allow me to share my own expertise and enhance my repertoire as I engage in peer discussion and guidance. This seminar will be a chance to meet new people; make the most of that opportunity. Through shared experiences I can learn what worked, what didn’t. What are causes for difficult or failed change; what promotes successful change?
3. Experience teaching and learning strategies that I may transfer to my home institution, influencing my role as change agent and innovator.

Knowledge: We hope to deepen our understanding of organizational change and the elements necessary for successful change and innovation. We expect to heighten our understanding of motivation, leadership and followership.
Skills: We will seek to improve communication skills, teamwork and to consider the advantages of a genuine participatory style of management, which can lead to a more welcoming culture for change.

Copyright John Lubans 2014
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