The 5-Minute Change Plan

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Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit in 2010, and today, he is one of the 'most followed educators'on social media in the world. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday Times as a result of...
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The idea for this particular 5MinPlan came about, when reviewing our school’s behaviour policy. When considering implementing change you need to think carefully if there is the need for change. The change plan is based on the work of Kotter (1996) and Blanchard et al (2009).

Charles Darwin stated:

 “It is not the strongest of the species that survive or the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change”.

This is true, considering our recent educational climate.

Change is rarely popular, as it can create stress and additional work for staff. Change can be unsettling for staff as it requires at times, a different approach. It needs to be well planned, led and managed in a way that people can cope with change.

How it started?

Here is the original sketch.

The original
The original

Fullan (2004:14) stated:

“If we can understand change better, we are able to influence, but not control it to be better”.



Getting started:

Kotter‘s model (1996) Figure 1, states that eight steps are needed to implement change. Kotter sets out a simple, actionable process, and is regarded as an excellent starting point for anyone implementing change. A professor at Harvard Business School, Kotter argues that 70% of all major change efforts fail, as they do not take a long-term approach towards the entire process. Hence, the idea for the #5MinChangePlan was born!

See figure 1: Implementing change (Kotter 1996)


1. Why?

At the outset you need to be clear about why you are introducing change, and not introducing change for changes sake. The 5 whys tool is a problem solving technique that helps its users to get to the root of a problem. It was made popular in the 1970’s by the Toyota Production system. The tool involves looking at any problem and asking “why?” and “what caused the problem?” The first answer will then led to another question “why did that occur?” The question is posed five times, which then provides a quick and effective way of drilling down on an issue.

Here’s a link to the tool.


2. Vision:

One of the key concepts in the leadership and management of change is ‘vision’, hence, prior to implementing any change, a leader must articulate a clear vision for the school. From our experience, a consultative and supportive leadership style will promote greater support for change and improvement in a more sustainable approach.


3. Drivers:

The next step is to ensure the right drivers (people and teams) are in place to drive change and improvement. Teams need careful consideration in setting up to ensure their effectiveness. Whilst the work of Belbin, doesn’t entirely resonate with us, it may be worth a read to shape your thoughts about putting together the drivers. Belbin (2010) suggested, within the context of teams, nine key roles need to be filled in order for the organisation to fulfil its potential. Belbin suggests that teams work best when there is a balance of roles and when team members know their roles and work to their strengths and manage their weaknesses. In the true context of distributive leadership, the drivers can also help develop and refine the vision.


4. Impact:

Considering the time, effort and resources that are taken up when implementing change, it’s worth considering how you are going to measure the impact of your work.  For example, looking if you were going to measure the impact of the attendance officer / team on attendance this term it would be worthwhile using benchmarking statistics from the autumn term from 2012/13 and 2011/2012 so that you have three years’ of data to ask questions.


5. Advocates:

Blanchard et al. (2009) state with sponsorship (advocates) for change from senior leaders, will help to gain commitment and buy in for the change process. Who will back you? Can you share the vision and possible outcome of this work to them (the advocates)?


6. Change Grid:

Figure 2: Factors in managing change. (Thousand et al 1995:58)


Figure 2 shows what happens when any one of the key processes is not met. For example, without vision, there would be confusion, without the necessary skills this may lead to anxiety. Whilst the model adopts a rational approach to change, in reality this is never the case, nonetheless the process is a starting point for consideration when implementing change. In our experience ‘skills’ is an area overlooked when managing change. A reason for the failure of change projects can be because the teams / individuals may not have had the skill set to access. This tool also supports the CPD needs of your change team.

7. Short-term wins:

Short term wins help sustain motivation. Imagine having a goal, which could only be measured after a year. Without knowing how you are progressing may lead to a loss of focus, demotivated staff and the list goes on. How will you create short-term wins?


8. Make it stick!

(Evaluation and review)

To ensure the implanted change ‘sticks’ we need to evaluate review and refine the plan. The cycle below benchmarks the standards for schools and poses questions for reflection to further improvements. We have deliberately placed this at the heart of the 5MinChangePlan template.


Figure 3 – Department for Education (2001)


Final thoughts:

From personal reflection and gathering views from staff, we have both decided not to have an extensive development plan for the intervention strategy. Davies (2005) stated that traditional approaches to school planning i.e. detailed development plans, no longer serve the needs of schools and that it requires radical thinking. Development plans need to have a clear focus on learning upon classroom practice. Davies (2005) sums up by stating that the thicker the plan the less effective it shall be.

Change requires a compelling reason and a sense of urgency. Getting the most effective staff behind the change will ensure it will gain commitment, and only once a team, for example, the senior leadership team or the change management team have come together, should a shared vision be established. In our experience, this is an area where change fails. The vision must be then communicated to others and must be supported both in terms of advocates from the SLT and also in terms of resources, which include the training and development of staff. There must be clear processes for monitoring, evaluating and reviewing linked to clear roles for accountability.

Our advice to others from experience is to ensure students are at the heart of the change and improvement process. Ensure the change is informed by data and carry strong moral purpose to ensure you are working towards improvement, if it does neither you must ask yourself, why is change needed?

The challenge for schools under the current coalition government is the amount of change coming at one time and for school leaders having the courage and conviction to do what is best for their students.



The #5MinChangePlan by Ross Morrison McGill and Sapuran Gill is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Based on all work published at and

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Creative Commons


  1. Belbin, R,M (2010), Management Teams: Why They Succeed or Fail Butterworth Heinemann,
  2. Blanchard, K, Britt, J, Zigarmi, P and Hoekstra, J (2009) Who Killed change? St Ives: Polvera Publishing
  3. Davies, B (2005) From school development plans to a strategic planning framework (2005) University of Hull: International Leadership Centre.
  4. Fullan, M. (2004). System thinkers in action: Moving beyond the standards plateau. London: Innovation Unit, Department for Education and Skills.
  5. Kotter, J. (1996) Leading change. Harvard Business School

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