Southwest District Pilots Change Management Process

Date Posted: 7/10/2014

Over a dozen members of the Southwest District Leadership Team looked at the change process from the inside out at the “ADKAR” change management orientation event in June. TAC is studying the process for a wider roll out.
Wouldn’t it be ideal to plan and manage a change rather than just ‘hoping’ it works? About a dozen members of the District Leadership Team answered YES to that question as they devoted a day this month to learning about a process called ADKAR that is being adapted to help move a church through a change. ADKAR is a memorable acronym for the key steps to the people side of the change management process: Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement.
Graham Sharp, a John Wesley UMC lay leader within the Central North District experienced this process in his vocational work and realized it could be tweaked for ministry application. SW District Superintendent Jay Jackson says, “I am excited to pilot this for the conference through our District Leadership Team (DLT). One of the most important aspects of change in the church is the change management associated with helping people to identify and accept change.” Rev. B.T. Williamson, Assistant to the Bishop believes this will be a simple but effective tool for the conference to offer to help anyone in ministry to better prepare for and implement change. “Based on the positive feedback, we are exploring the next steps.”
One participant said the orientation was helpful because “it gives me a sequential framework for moving an organization from its current state to its future state.” Another likes the fact that ADKAR “provides a process for before, during and after changes are made to make the process smoother.”
Another attendee is personally energized at “the potential for me to take the ADKAR system back to my church to aid us in some big decisions we have coming up.”
“I’ve been involved in change management in a hospital administrative environment for decades,” says Jerry Massey, who recently moved into the SW District and attends St. Peter’s UMC in Katy, “so I am excited to see this type of training made available to church leaders. About 10 of the pilot participants in the ADKAR orientation want to be further involved in the actual training in a few weeks.”
Rev. Marlin Fenn, Katy First UMC, who chairs the Southwest DLT describes ADKAR as “an approach to casting vision that just makes great sense.  ADKAR is an extremely helpful tool to measure whether a group or congregation is ready for a particular change.  Many exciting ideas and visions get lost because they don’t gain traction.  ADKAR tells you where to focus your energy to help a great vision gain traction.  And the great thing is that it is such a simple tool to use.” He says that part of ADKAR is designed to diagnose resistance to new ideas.  Adds Marlin, “ADKAR brings a process for anticipating and managing resistance and creating the buy-in that can help draw general opinion in a positive direction. Our District Leadership Team responded excitedly to our orientation into ADKAR.  I think we could all see useful purposes for it.  We are starting to approach new situations differently, as we could all think of situations we might have approached differently had we heard this before.”
SWAT Team on Duty
Jerry has been working with Jay to put together a type of executive-on-loan program called the district SWAT Team – SouthWest Action Team – of individuals with various areas of expertise and training.  He is heading it up and in the early stages of defining the ‘who’ and the ‘how.’ “The SWAT Team will help identify a resource person if one of our Southwest District churches wants one on one consultation through a particular change-related issue,” adds Jerry. “We will certainly stay true to the gospel, but change has come and more is coming to our churches and I believe the ADKAR system will work well to help people be aware of the need to change, want the change and appreciate the outcome.”