I went to see Richard Gerver talk about his new book, Change, at the RSA yesterday (and then read the book later that evening). Gerver made his name by transforming a failing school in Derbyshire into one of the most creative and celebrated educational establishments in the world. His work led him to be named Head Teacher of the Year at the National Teaching Awards 2005.

Gerver is interested in how individuals and organisations handle change in a world where the pace of change is growing exponentially. His approach was honed at Grange School and he has given us the fruits of his experience in his very engaging book, which is well worth a read. Here are five things I took away from the talk and book. I believe they are pertinent to the work we do at Make Happy.

  1. It is pointless starting a change programme without first creating the capacity with the people within the organisation to think openly and creatively.
  2. Change is constant, so you have to harden your people and organisation to constant change.
  3. Successful organisations should use the privilege of their success to allow their people to “play” more. A famous benefit of working at Google is the 20 percent time program. Google allows its employees to use up to 20 percent of their work week to pursue special projects. That means for every standard work week, employees can take a full day to work on a project unrelated to their normal workload. Google claims that many of their products in Google Labs started out as pet projects in the 20 percent time program.
  4. In an era of risk assessments, Gerver asks whether your organisation has a published risk taking policy. There are lots of risk assessments, but do your people know what risks are acceptable in the pursuit of business transforming change?
  5. And probably my favourite: How many organisations would dare ask their staff whether they felt treasured in the annual staff survey?