This past June I had the pleasure once again of being part of the team at the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education (SCOPE) that led the Linked Learning Summer Institute for a group of districts in California in the middle of implementing college and career pathways in their high schools.

As part of the design, we were fortunate to be able to preview a draft of this case study article in the International Journal of Design, Service Design and Change of Systems:  Human-Centered Approaches to Implementing and Spreading Service Design. I know, I know, it sounds dry and scholarly.

Read it anyway.

The article traces the journey of a Kaiser Innovation Team in trying to implement changes to the design of the process by which nurses trade information at shift changes. How they failed, and how they used human-centered change management practices to eventually succeed.

On Day Three of the Institute two of the authors presented to the room of educators. How is healthcare like education? Let us count the ways:

  • “Complex system of autonomous & specialized roles
  • Years of ingrained behaviors and habits
  •  Pressures and demands of a high-risk environment that results in competing priorities
  • Emotional burden associated with ongoing changes and initiatives
  • The need to satisfy a diverse range of workers and customers.”

I find that educators are committed to change and know their content; the challenge is that many of the leaders haven’t had explicit training or coaching in the art and science of change itself.

This article and the tools that went with it gave the room a context they could identify with and the concrete processes and tools to support the change they spent the rest of their day planning. My experience with change in education matches the presenters’ message about change in their healthcare context:

“We tend to think implementing change is about implementing the ideas.

It’s the people involved in the change that matter.”

Learning how to implement change in any context is about learning how to work with the people involved in the change.



  • Read the article! Discuss with your school or District leadership team.
  • Download the Human Centered Implementation PowerPoint and Pyramid from the SCOPE website.
  • Are you in the middle of a change that isn’t taking hold? Have you skipped over a human-centered conversation or experience in the pyramid that you might go back to?

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