Making Change Happen

The foundation of the Change Leadership Series, Making Change Happen™, aka "The Change Game", introduces participants to the concepts of change for individuals.  Based on three streams of empirical research (the Concerns-Based adoption model – CBAM, Everett Rogers innovation diffusion research, and the DESSI Study). The engaging and thought-provoking learning experience leads to an understanding of the possibilities and pitfalls of improvement efforts, establishes a shared vocabulary about essential change steps, an appreciation of the differing perspectives of others, and challenges long-standing assumptions.  Used extensively throughout the United States and abroad, thousands of individuals have marveled at its ability to “make concrete and real” the ambiguous task of bringing about change in schools and organizations of all types.

Making Change prepares participants for the deeper learning of the next game in the series, Systems Thinking, Systems Changing™, which extends learnings about change for individuals to a broader organizational context. 


Leading a group session calls for a leader with beginner to intermediate facilitation skills.

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The setting and problem solving in Making Change Happen happens around the implementation of a new system wide software program, IT 2020. In order for the organization to succeed in its implementation, staff with varied skills and formal positions must be brought on board. Teams "play" the game and earn "Bennies" [student benefits] for their progress toward getting the new program in place within a fictional school district. The challenge of the game is for teams to decide how to best convince administrators, teachers and parents to support the new program and to assist them in making the necessary changes in their daily practice.

The game is typically played in pairs or trios. These groups decide together which activities will lead to change in the imaginary school district. Each team uses a game board that represents an elementary school, a secondary school, and an administrative office. A typical game, including focused debriefing activities, can be played in three to six hours.

In the process of the play, the team members encounter roadblocks and barriers that typically prevent school improvement and can try a range of strategies for promoting positive changes in schools. Rather than simply telling or training educators about the activities that research shows promote change in schools, this game lets educators actually try out change strategies in a risk-free setting. Results are enlightening and fun.

The simulation is best used as a springboard for leadership and team development where a shared vocabulary about the processes of change and improvement can accelerate progress and encourage collaboration. Each time the game is played, even with the same group, it offers a fresh opportunity to test assumptions, assess progress on actual improvement efforts against a research base, and reinforce key concepts that have been shown to be essential to success.

Game Screenshots (click to enlarge)