Chapter Five Summary
The discussion in chapter four brings out the importance of each of the 21 responsibilities individually but says very little to show how they relate to each other. For the relationships to be identified, a factor analysis was conducted based on responses to a questionnaire used to assess the behavior of principals’ in relation to the 21 responsibilities.
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This is the subject matter of this chapter. An important discovery that resulted from the analysis was that two traits; first-order and second-order changes, appeared to underlie the responsibilities (Marzano, Waters, & McNulty 2005).
First- and Second-Order Change
First-order change is incremental in nature and is usually the first option sought after by school leadership when faced with a problem. Its success relies mainly on past occurrences and the application of fresh ideas is often not an option. To a large extent, it can only prepare an individual for common situations. It is, however, quite challenging to try using this approach on new challenges for which solutions are not readily available.
Second-order change on the other hand is radical and for any benefits to be realized, steadfast leadership is a must. It entails conceptualizing a problem differently or adopting a completely new strategy.
The Difficulty of the Second-Order Change
The adoption of second-order change has failed in a number of occasions and in discouraged innovation in many areas. There is a high tendency for humans to look at nearly all problems as if they were of first-order nature and this is one of the reasons why it has been difficult to advance the use of second-order change.
Also, second-order change is to a certain extent unpopular with many as it strongly disregards the status quo which most people are determined to maintain. The use of second-order change has also been a dreadful venture for many who may not be ready to accommodate criticisms. One has to be quite resilient to succeed using this form of leadership.
Leadership for First-Order Change: Managing the Daily Life of a School
The outcome of the factor analysis clearly shows how the 21 responsibilities interact and how they can be applied to achieve change. Involvement in the day-to-day changes in a school will require that all the 21 principal responsibilities to be seen as important although to a varying degree. Despite the fact that the responsibilities are ranked in order of importance, none of them should receive little importance.
The routine business of schooling demands corrections and alterations which, by definition are first order in nature and as such, first-order change is viewed as a by-product of the day-to-day functions of the school. Relating the 21 responsibilities to the first-order change shows that these responsibilities define the standard operating procedures in a school. They are regarded as the management tools of effective school leaders.
Leadership for Second-Order Change
Unlike first-order, second-order change is linked to 7 of the 21 responsibilities and it presents a dramatic departure from what is anticipated both in stating a problem and providing a solution. The change manifests itself only in the context of a specific issue or problem being solved.
Central to second-order change is innovation and just as in the case of first-order change, a leader should not be misguided by the ranking to underrate any of the responsibilities. From the factor analysis, it can also be noted that three of the responsibilities identified as very important to the second-order change are ranked low in terms of relative importance to the first-order change.
Some of the 21 Responsibilities mentioned are adversely affected by second-order change. A school leader might have to endure the perception that culture, communication, order and routine, and the level of input have all deteriorated as a result of innovation with culture having the strongest negative relationship to the second-order change.
The differences noticeable between first- and second-order changes and the regular tendency to look at all changes as first-order provide a good foundation to start digging into the failure of previous innovations. There is a very high possibility that these innovations were second-order changes that were managed as though they were first-order changes and hence the failure.
Marzano, R.J., Waters, T., & McNulty, B.T. (2005). School Leadership That Works: From Research To Results. Alexandria Va. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development