Assumptions About Change

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Assumptions About Change

Although change is inevitable and rarely easy, it consists of a predictable process. Back in 1990, Michael Fullan identified some factors that impede meaningful change. Today, concerned stakeholders are well advised to revisit Fullan’s “10 Assumptions about Change.” They are as insightful now as they were more than 20 years ago. As we collectively address the ongoing need for change in schools, we should move forward with caution and pay attention to the lessons of the past:

  1. Do not assume that your version of what the change should be is the one that should be implemented.
  2. Assume that any significant innovation, if it is to result in change, requires individual implementers to work out their own meaning.
  3. Assume that conflict and disagreement are not only inevitable but fundamental to successful change.
  4. Assume that people need pressure to change (even in directions that they desire). But it will only be effective under conditions that allow them to react, to form their own position, to interact with other implementers, to obtain technical assistance, etc.
  5. Assume that effective change takes time: 3 – 5 years for specific innovations, greater than 5 years for institutional reform.
  6. We should not assume that the reason for lack of implementation is the outright rejection of the values embodied in the change or hardcore resistance to all change. There are some possible reasons: value rejection, inadequate resources to support implementation, insufficient time elapsed.
  7. We should not expect all or even most people or groups to change. Progress occurs when we take steps that increase the number of people.  Our reach should not exceed our grasps … by such a margin that we fall flat on our face.
  8. Assume that we will need a plan that is based on the above assumptions.
  9. Assume that no amount of knowledge will ever make it totally clear what action should be taken.
  10. We should assume that changing the culture of institutions is the real agenda, not implementing single innovations.


Reed, L. C. (2017). The agape alternative. Chicago, IL: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.

Reed, L. C. (2017). Transforming middle schools: A staff development workshop manual. Chicago, IL: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.

Reed, L. C. (2017). Transforming school culture: A case study approach. Chicago, IL: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.


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