Recommended Book: Change Leader by Michael Fullan

Favorite Quotes

"Once you are free of the constraints of a new theory or past practice, you can explore multiple approaches, experiment, and above all learn from your experience. In this context, practice becomes a powerful tool for change" (Fullan, 2011, p. 3).

"...most good ideas come from first examining good practices of others, especially practices that are getting results in difficult circumstances. The second step is to try out the new ideas yourself. The third entails drawing conclusions from what you have learned, and then expanding on those conclusions" (Fullan, 2011, p. 5).

"What we see time and again is that theory and strategy (abstract concepts) dominate practice and implementation (grounded concepts)" (Fullan, 2011, p. 9).

"The source of creative breakthroughs, then, is learning about and from practice, not theory…. What Duggan finds is that the scientific method 'depends not on imagination but on discovery' (p. 9), by which he means that you do not imagine or ‘‘theorize’’ the next creative idea, but rather you discover it through reflective practice and insight, and then develop it further" (Fullan, 2011, p. 12).

"What is 'impressive' is the ability to put yourself in other people’s shoes, particularly those who hold values and experiences very different than yours" (Fullan, 2011, p. 30).

"(1) when you are on a crucial mission, stay the course against all odds; and (2) be impressively empathetic when it comes to opposition in the early stages" (Fullan, 2011, p. 30).

  • "The drive to make progress in our schools can’t be a fad.
  • Education reform is not important to your government unless it’s important to the head of your government — personally.
  • If you want to achieve your goals, you need to keep up the pressure all the time. (in Fullan, 2010a, p. 64)" (Fullan, 2011, p. 39).

"You can’t make people change, and rewards and punishment either don’t work or are short lived—the only thing that works is people’s intrinsic motivation, and you have to get at this indirectly" (Fullan, 2011, p. 51).

"…it is not inspiring visions, moral exhorta- tion, or mounds of irrefutable evidence that convince people to change, it is the actual experience of being more effec- tive that spurs them to repeat and build on the behavior" (Fullan, 2011, p. 52).

"…the driver of sustainability is the peer culture. Put another way, at the beginning of a given change process the leader is key to get things going, but through the processes that we will describe in this chapter all successful change eventually must revolve around collective ownership" (Fullan, 2011, p. 53).

"For starters the work must carry with it a strong sense of purpose. Once their basic needs are met the vast majority of people want to do something of value. They want to do something that is meaningful. Second, people find that getting better at something that is important is intrinsically satisfying. Let’s call that increased capacity. Third, there needs to be a degree of autonomy so that people can exercise judgment in making headway. The fourth element, which Pink mentions but does not highlight, is being well connected to others in the pursuit of significant goals—what we can call camaraderie in relation to accomplishing purpose" (Fullan, 2011, pp. 55-56).

"…we need to create the processes and conditions where frequent interaction is directed at new capacities and group identity. Increase the quality of interaction and the availability of good information and reap the benefits—look for and reinforce promising patterns" (Fullan, 2011, p. 58).

"Plans are only as good as the action they inspire. Thus they have to be clear, specific, communicable, ‘‘sticky,’’ linked to action, and above all internalized by the vast majority of people" (Fullan, 2011, p. 67).

"You take risks in order to learn. This means that you have to foster a culture and atmosphere of non- judgmentalism" (Fullan, 2011, p. 80).

"1. To get anywhere, you have to do something. Give people the experience and build on it.

2. In doing something, you need to focus on developing skills.

3. Acquisition of skills increases clarity.
4. New experiences, skills, and clarity stirs intrinsic moti-

vation, if the idea is a good one.

5. Intrinsically meaningful experiences equals ownership.

6. Doing this together with others generates shared ownership.

7. Persist no matter what, being flexible as you learn more" (Fullan, 2011, p. 82).

“Bad collaboration is worse than no collaboration. People scuttle from meeting to meeting to coordinate work and share ideas but far too little gets done . . . . This is a terrible way of working in the best of times: resources are wasted while better players pull away. It’s downright reckless in tough times, such as in a crisis, where the ability to pull together can make the difference between making it or not. (p. 1)

...Key Insight 4

Collaborative competition is the yin and yang of successful change. Collaborate and compete.

There are many insightful cautions in Hansen’s treatment of collaboration, and though we should worry about ineffective and wasteful forms of collaboration, for our purposes we need to realize that social engagement in the service of something important is the sine qua non of effective organizations. So what does good collaboration look like?” (Fullan, pp. 90-91)


"Exhibit 4.1: Elements of a Collaborative Culture

1. Focus: Set a small number of core goals.
2. Form a guiding coalition.
3. Aim for collective capacity building.
4. Work on individual capacity building.
5. Reap the benefits of collaborative competition" (Fullan, p. 91).

"Indispensable leaders are dangerous for the obvious reason that when they inevitably leave, the organization will suffer a setback" (Fullan, p. 118).

"Balance, he maintains, is both unattainable and undesirable, so work on your purpose in life, but treat its pursuit as a matter of learning and leaning forward. Balance is undesirable, according to Thurmon, because it represents stagnation, sameness, and protecting what is imaginary or unrealistic, and ultimately amounts to having a little of everything. By contrast, ‘‘off balance’’ represents growth and action, change, embracing what might be real, and having more of what really matters (Thurmon, 2010, p. 15)" (Fullan, p. 122).

"Use your brain; let deliberate practice drive better practice. Motivate the masses so that they can innovate and provide checks and balances for what to retain. Be aware and cognizant of your impact. Know what you are looking for by way of evidence, and maintain your capacity to be sur- prised. Work hard at getting to know yourself. In other words, be a learner" (Fullan, p. 131).

"Exhibit 6.1: Cures for the Distorted Brain

1. Practice being humble; admit your mistakes.
2. Tighten the action-feedback loop.
3. Establish a climate of openness and critical feedback.
4. Focus on a few core priorities and doing them well.
5. Develop and hone your skills for getting to know yourself. 6. Introduce and honor the humble checklist.
7. Celebrate success after it happens, not before" (Fullan, p. 134).

Exhibit 6.2: Sample Checklist for Change Leaders

  1. Do I have a small number of core priorities?
  2. What am I doing to communicate with organization members both initially and especially on an ongoing basis?
  3. Have I stopped to see if I am practicing impressive empathy in relation to potential naysayers?
  4. Have I spelled out the norm of speaking up when there are persistent problems, and provided opportunities for people to identify problems?
  5. Are we gathering data that are simple, ongoing, and used for quick feed- back on how well things are going? Are our data helping us focus or are we drowning in it?
  6. Have I specified when the team needs to meet periodically to discuss progress and problem solve? In the past six months, have I stopped to acknowledge mistakes publicly, and to learn from them?
  7. Do I regularly practice reflective techniques to get to know my inner self?" (Fullan, p. 143).

Fullan, M. (2011). Change leader. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.