Understanding Marriage of Theory and Practice through Anna Hazare’s Anti-Corruption Movement and Kotter’s Change Management Framework
According to Mary Timney, practice is theory-in-place and theory is practice-to-be, waiting to be enacted. Theory then is one’s understanding of the world. Practice is the enactment of that understanding. In this post I have endeavoured to draw parallels with Anna Hazare’s movement (Practice) with Kotter’s eight step framework (Theory).
The Practice of Change We are all aware of the recent anti-corruption movement started in India by Anna Hazare and his team. It is commendable indeed. How could an unnotable person like him bring about such a massive movement in India with followers cutting across the cross section of society? This question has always intrigued me and I have tried to find succour in theory which is the sole purpose of this post.
Corruption, System and Change Corruption is indeed a perennial cause of concern the world over. It has touched all of us in one way or the other. Nevertheless, “corruption” is a creation of the “system” and that the “system-change” needs to happen if corruption has to be rooted out. But many of us don't really know how to go about doing it. Where do we start? Whom do we involve? How do we see it through to the end?
The Theory of Change Change is THE perpetual truth. Philosophers like Heraclitus to President Obama all have said this in different ways and in different context since thousands of years. It is just as true today. There are volumes written on change management by eminent scholars and practitioners. The one I like the most is by John Kotter, a professor at Harvard Business School and world-renowned change expert. Kotter introduced his eight-step change process in his 1995 book, "Leading Change”. Many organizations thus far have successfully applied this model and benefited. In this post I have endeavoured to draw parallels with Anna Hazare’s movement (Practice) with Kotter’s eight step framework (Theory). Kotter’s Eight Step Frame-work: Kotter outlines eight steps that organizations need to implement to successfully change: 1. Create a sense of urgency 2. Develop a guiding coalition 3. Develop a vision for change 4. Communicate the vision 5. Empower broad-based action 6. Generate short-term wins 7. Don’t let up 8. Make it stick in the organizational culture
Let us compare Kotters Change Framework with the Anna Hazare Movement. 1. Create a sense of urgency: Anna and his team established a Sense of Urgency by identifying and discussing “Corruption” as the major challenge India is facing today. Kotter suggests that for change to be successful, a significant number of citizens should "buy into" the change. As can be seen the team has really worked hard on Step One, and they have spent significant time and energy building urgency, before moving onto the next steps. 2. Develop a guiding coalition: They Assembled groups (We The People) with enough power to lead the change effort and encouraged the group to work as a team 3. Develop a vision for change: He and his team created a vision to help direct the change effort and developed strategies for achieving that vision. 4. Communicate the vision: They used every vehicle possible to communicate the new vision and strategies. 5. Empower broad-based action: The team is unrelentingly trying to get rid of obstacles to change the system and are bringing in non-traditional ideas, activities and actions (civil society participation in drafting the Janlokpal Bill). 6. Generate short-term wins: The team was successful in making the government agree to their legitimate demands of jointly drafting the bill and also influencing the voters in the bye-elections. 7. Don’t let up: The involvement of wider cross section of the society has increased credibility of the change, team Anna has been advocating. Even the media started supporting the cause. All this is helping them promote, and develop firm footing to implement the vision. And despite efforts from several quarters to destabilize the team by creating rifts, the team seems to be reinvigorating the process with new approaches to change. 8. Make it stick in the organizational culture: According to me, the team has to concentrate their efforts here. With the current turbulence within the team members due to difference of opinion some problems are foreseen. It's important that Team Anna continues to get the support from other members for the cause. This includes existing members and new members who are joining. If they lose the support of these people, they might end up back where they started.
Key Learning Points from the above Practice and Theory We all have to work hard to change the system. When we plan carefully and build the proper foundation, implementing change can be much easier, and we'll improve the chances of success. If we're too impatient, and if we expect too many results too soon, our plans for change are more likely to fail. Create a sense of urgency, recruit powerful change leaders, build a vision and effectively communicate it, remove obstacles, create quick wins, and build on your momentum. If we do these things, we can help make the change part of our culture. That's when we can declare a true victory. Then sit back and enjoy the change that we envisioned so long ago. We need to learn, unlearn and relearn from our practices. This is where the marriage between theory and practice take place. To sum up my post, I would like to quote Michel Foucault: ‘For us the danger is not that we might fail to become what we are meant to be, but that we might only be what we can see ourselves to be.’ Srijayan N Iyer http://sri-managementconsulting.blogspot.com/
Anna Hazare & Team Anna, John Kotter