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Posts Tagged ‘buy-in

I am rewarding myself with a short break after intensive week of evaluating assignments.

But even as I relax by playing Pokémon Go (PoGo), I observe behaviours that remind me why implementing change is so difficult. People keep old habits because they see only what is around them.

Niantic, the company behind PoGo, recently re-released past legendaries Kyogre and Groudon alongside the current Rayquaza in an attempt to spice things up. What players collectively catch more of determines what normal but rare (or rare-ish) Pokémon hatch from eggs.

There is currently 85K people in a Facebook group of PoGo players in Singapore. A group poll showed that an overwhelming majority favoured the catching the current legendary, Rayquaza. The experience is fresher (it was just released) and the consequences are better (the rarest normal Pokémon will hatch from eggs).

That said, a poll and an online community does not necessarily represent what happens on the ground.

If you find a gym with a five-star rating (legendary boss), you have a one in three chance of battling Rayquaza, and a two in three chance of battling the other two.

If the poll held true, you would expect most people to invest time, effort, and their free or paid passes into the Rayquaza raids. Very few walk away from non-Rayquaza raids even though they said they would.

A few who stay might not actually be raiding. They might just be there for a friend or are clearing up their game inventory. But even a cursory glance will reveal the telltale tap-tap-tap battling motion of the players that remain.

What people say is not what people always do.

Likewise, when there is change, it is easy for people to buy-in to rationale, but it is not as easy to take ownership of action. I have shared before how buy-in is a state of mind while ownership is a state of being.

Buy-in is a state of mind. Ownership is a state of being.

So why is it difficult for people to take ownership and create change?

While there might be shared purpose, there might not be shared plans or strategies. In PoGo, there might not be a social signal to abandon a futile raid, so people keep raiding even though it is short-sighted. In schooling, there might not be a signature pedagogy, so teachers keep doing what they have always done.

An edublogger I respect once wrote that is it important to not just look up and beyond, but also look down and at what is immediate when implementing change. I agree, but only to a point.

Only the skilled and wise know how to balance the actions of keeping their eyes on the prize while dealing with the daily grind. Ignore one or the other and you lose your way. The PoGo players see only what is immediate — people around them raiding and using up a daily pass — so they do not change tactics. Teachers see what the majority of their peers are doing — buying in but not taking ownership — and they do the same.

PoGo is a game with consequences that are relatively short-term and do not have much of an impact outside the game. However, teaching indifferently has consequences that are long-term and go far deeper. Both benefit from shared strategies and looking beyond the immediate.

Mention systemic or organisational change in schools and you will invariably hear a few phrases like taking baby steps, involving stakeholders, and creating buy-in.

These and other practices are critical to making change that is actually worthwhile and effective. However, the change processes often have unspoken assumptions. For example, I unpacked what is wrong with taking baby steps.

Today, I focus on buy-in.

Creating buy-in among stakeholders of change is important because if they are not aware of the need or do not believe in the change, the effort is doomed from the start.

However, it is not enough to simply create buy-in. Buy-in is a state of mind. It is about understanding what the change is, projecting possibilities, and deciding to be associated with it.

The message to buy into can sometimes remain someone else’s property. Stakeholders may understand the rationale for change, but still think “This is not really our problem or that is your solution!”

Buy-in is a state of mind. Ownership is a state of being.

What is missing is ownership. Ownership is a state of being. It is a sense of belonging.

Creating this type of ownership is less traditionally top-down and more socially bottom-up. Depending on the structure of organisation, ownership can also be generated middle-up-and-down by an empowered group that deeply understands both ends.

Creating buy-in tends to be associated with the process of communicating change. It typically involves engaging stakeholders at the early phase of change efforts.

However, ownership is about articulating change. It is not only about connecting with stakeholders, but also moving them and empowering them to take action. Creating ownership is a continuous, multi-phase process.

Buy-in is a state of mind. Ownership is a state of being. It is far more important and effective to create ownership of change.

Thanks to a tweet from tucksoon, I read the provocatively titled Why schools don’t need ICT.

What the article meant to say was that it was pointless to buy ICT if you got “nothing obvious in return”. To put it simply, don’t buy ICT if it is not going to make teaching and learning more efficient or effective. Don’t buy ICT if it is going to take up time, money, space and other resources just to maintain the status quo.

Why do schools invest in so many laptops only to lock them administratively so that teachers cannot even install more useful software? (You can probably think of several reasons, most of them administrative, none of them about learning.) The teachers and students might as well use their own.

What could schools promote instead? At least two things: Ownership and buy in.

The ICTs with which we can teach and students can learn are already in the hands, pockets and bags of the people walking in and out of schools. These include mobile computing devices like smartphones or even iPad-like devices.

Users could be encouraged to use what they already own for learning instead of being told to switch them off. All the school needs to do is provide and maintain a robust and wide-ranging wireless network. Have students who don’t own these devices? Help them own them. Might there be misuse or even abuse of these devices? That’s life, deal with it.

Don’t buy ICT. Create buy in to these ideas instead. Administrators and teachers need to see the point of using the powerful devices that they and their students already have at their disposal. Students already use them, almost religiously in their social lives. Teachers too. What they need is to see how to use these same devices in educational contexts. Then only do you get buy in.

That’s short for powerful learning practice and doing what works.

At the end of 2009, Will Richardson asked what had changed in schools and suggested it was time for PLP. If you head over to the PLP site, two headers stand out: 1) our students are changing and 2) schools are not.

So how does one realign schools to relevant and critical changes? Rather than push technologies blindly, PLP seems to sell ideas to educators by first providing the experiences and underlying rationale and pedagogies of more current technologies.

I’ve highlighted this part in the YouTube video below. Get to the critical portion (1min 08sec – 2min 00sec mark) directly by clicking on the video source link or watch the video in its entirety below.

Video source

So, that is certainly one way of getting teachers to buy in and change.

But they will need continued support and a constant stream of ideas. They can do this by establishing personal learning networks via PLP, Twitter lists, Facebook groups, etc.

They can also get support from the US Department of Education’s Doing What Works site whose mission is to “translate research-based practices into practical tools to improve classroom instruction”.

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