MHST 621 - Coaching and Leading: The Human Side of Organizational Change

This version of MHST 621 closed. To current version.

Delivery mode:  Paced/home-study online
Credits: 3 - Applied Studies
Prerequisite: n/a
Precluded courses: n/a

1.0 Introduction | 2.0 Course Goals | 3.0 Course Materials | 4.0 Course Structure | 5.0 Course Outline
6.0 Assessment Structure

1.0     Introduction

Change within organizations has become the norm. As an ancient Greek philosopher said, “you can’t step into the same river twice.” Sometimes as the changes bombard you from all sides it feels as if you will be swept away in that very river! Think of your own organization. How many changes did you deal with today?

The answer to that question probably surprised you! We are all confronted with changes in our organization on a daily basis. Many times we are juggling planning for a change, initiating a second change, facilitating a third, while we “cement in” yet another change. At the same time we are coaching, leading and guiding those who have been traumatized by one or all of these changes, calming the fearful, reassuring the confused and disheartened, and unsticking the resistant. As organizational leaders we set off to work each day with the vision of transforming the “swamps” in our organization to virtual “oasis”! No wonder we often go home with our heads spinning! How do we take care of ourselves in this world of chaos and confusion while helping those in our organizations to thrive? During this course we will uncover some answers to these questions.

There are skills and strategies that you already use successfully to coach and lead the human side of change. Begin to think of some of these and prepare to share your expertise with all of us. By working together we will have a meaningful learning experience.

2.0     Course Goals

By the conclusion of this course students will be able to: 

  • define organizational change and differentiate between change and transition  

  • understand and apply various models of organizational change to real-life case situations  

  • identify and anticipate the phases or stages of change within an organization

  • utilize specific change leadership skills and strategies to facilitate change within their own organizations

  • take care of themselves in an environment where continuous change is the norm  

  • be aware of aspects of organizational life that constrain change

  • identify and create catalysts for organizational change.  

  • understand the influence of organizational culture on change  

  • identify the relationship between organizational philosophy, mission and values and profound change, and  

  • appreciate the complexities of organizational change.  

3.0     Course Materials 

Course Textbooks:

Bridges, W. (1991). Managing transitions: Making the most of change. Don Mills: ON. Addison-Wesley.

Senge, P, Kleiner, A., Roberts, C., Ross, R., Roth, G., & Smith, B. (1999). The dance of change: The challenges to sustaining momentum in learning organizations. Toronto, ON: Doubleday.

Online Articles

Course readings are located online and are accessible through individual Web addresses (URLs) – I also encourage you to find and read one extra article each week. Please share the addresses with the rest of the class during discussion.

4.0     Course Structure  

This is an asynchronous online course. This means that there is no established time when you must log on, however, I would like to hear from each of you at least twice a week throughout the course. Each Monday, I will make an online presentation relating to the topic of the week. This presentation will set the tone for the online discussion.

The presentation will be organized into three parts, a “warm-up,” a “work-out,” and a “cool-down” section. The warm-up will be an activity or story that will get you thinking about the topic. The work-out is the main stimulus for your posting on the topic. It may be a series of questions to answer or a case to discuss or a debate topic to consider. The cool-down will be a short summary or thought-evoking statement about the current topic. The purpose of my weekly input is to keep us all on the same topic.

There is no advantage, in fact, it is a disadvantage to try and go ahead of the group (except perhaps in the reading and Web surfing). Once my presentation is “posted” you may add to the discussion at any time. You must log-on at least twice a week and submit two different substantive comments at a minimum. Logging on several times a week is desirable so that the discussion freely continues back and forth. Please try to align your comments with the topic of the week and post comments on a specific topic in the forum for that unit. You will find the forums in a drop-down menu at the top of the conference page.

On the Web site you will find a button (icon) for live chat. This can be used by any two or more students who choose, for whatever purpose, to have a discussion. It can be used for group course work as well. Please note that the chat tool is an optional activity as this tool is not always accessible for all students.

In the course conference you will find a coffee room forum. Course participants have used this opportunity in engage in more personal exchanges such as discussions of family or workplace issues. This allows the posting in the conference to focus on the course content. Some students have even used the coffee room option to post photos of themselves which helped to personalize the course. Try an online coffee break!

There is a live chat button (icon) on the Web site. This can be used by any two or more students who choose, for whatever purpose, to have a discussion. It can be used for group course work as well.

5.0     Course Outline  

Master of Health Studies 621: Leading and Coaching the Human Side of Organizational Change consists of the following 11 units

Unit 1 - Orientation and Overview
Timeline: 1 Week

It isn't the changes that do you in, it's the transitions. (Bridges).

  • What is Organizational Change?
  • Why do Most Change Initiatives Fail?
  • What is the Difference Between Change and Transition?

Unit 2 - Initiating Change 
Timeline: 1 Week

Every beginning is a consequence. Every beginning ends something. (Valery)

  • Models of Organizational Change
  • Overview of the Change Process
  • Getting Them to Let Go – dealing with the fearful, resistant, confused and disheartened
  • Preparing for Change

Unit 3 - Launching a New Beginning 
Timeline: 1 Week

Sometimes telling and selling is less effective than showing and growing.

  • The Challenges of Change Leadership
  • Coaching and Supporting Change
  • The Value of Differing Perspectives

Unit 4 Moving Through Change
Timeline: 1 Week

It takes nine months to have a baby no matter how many people you put on the job.

  • Change Management Skills and Strategies
  • Assignment 1 – case study due

Unit 5 - Cementing the Change
Timeline: 1 Week

It is a terrible thing to look over your shoulder when you are trying to lead and find no one there. (Roosevelt)

  • Reinforcing the New Beginning – consistency, success, symbolism and celebration
  • Making Change Stick?
  • Assessment and Measurement of Change Initiatives

Unit 6 - Dealing With Non-Stop Change 
Timeline: 1 Week

The art of progress is to preserve order amid change and to preserve change amid order. (Whitehead)

  • Taking Care of Yourself
  • Change as a Way of Life
  • Thriving on Uncertainty

Unit 7 - Constrained Change
Timeline: 1 Week

Just because everything is different doesn’t mean that anything has changed. (Peter)

  • Spreading Passion For Profound Change
  • Using Resistance as a Force For Change

Unit 8 - Catalysts for Profound Change 
Timeline: 1 Week

Our moral responsibility is not to stop the future, but to shape it…to channel our destiny in humane directions and to ease the trauma of transition. (Toffler)

  • Creating Transformed Organizations – Moving from a swamp to an oasis

  • The Role of Vision, Mission and Values in Shaping Change
  • Developing Multiple Intelligences

Unit 9 - Organizational Culture and Change
Timeline: 1 Week

An organization's culture is its operating system It guides what people value and how they think, act, feel and work.

  • The Effect of Organizational Culture on Change

  • Uncovering the Invisible Rules of Culture
  • The Effect of Mergers on Culture

Unit 10 - Collaborative Group Projects
Timeline: 3 - 4 Weeks

  • Group projects on change themes

Unit 11 - Wrap-Up 
Timeline: 1 Week

To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly.  (Bergson)

  • How Has This Course On Change, Changed You?

6.0     Assessment Structure  

Course Activity Weighting  

1) Case Study Document
2) Case Study Analysis
3) Group Presentation
4) Participation




Assignment #1- Case Study Document – 20%

Grading will be based on:

1. Clarity and Completeness of Case
2. Objectivity of Case
3. Originality and Creativity

Grammar, Spelling, Format and Editorials

Assignment #2 - Case Study Analysis – 30%

Grading will be based on:

1. Depth of Analysis
2. Organization of Analysis
3. Originality
4. Grammar, Format, Editorials

Assignment #3 - Group Presentation – 30%  

rading will be based on:

1. Organization of Content
2. Content of Presentation
3. Evidence of Effective Collaboration
4. Moderation of Class Discussion
5. Originality and Creativity
6. Format, Grammar, Editorials

Assignment #4 - Participation – 20% 

Grading will be based on:

The assessment structure for Master of Health Studies 610 indicates that 20% of your final grade will be determined by your participation in the course. To score full marks on class participation students are asked to post meaningful comments at least twice per week (on the topic of the week). Comments most highly evaluated are those that are relevant to the topic, that expand our understanding of the topic by challenging something that has been said (in an humanizing way!), by posing thought-evoking questions, by providing examples of a concept being discussed, or by providing additional references or resources that will assist classmates in deepening their understanding of a concept under discussion. Participation that has a positive tone and that is shared in a supportive and respectful way is most desired.

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice.
Note: This syllabus was last updated January 2002
Page last edited: January 21, 2002. EC. To previous version. ©Copyright 2000 Athabasca University
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