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The Change Management journey of reopening the Taipei European School

Greg Varner

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The Change Management journey of reopening the Taipei European School

774866553_ChangeManagement.jpg.b492aec9c382903a12881cca9ba687b3.jpgThe Taipei European School closed for the Chinese New Year (January 24th-29th) but did not reopen until February 25th due to COVID-19. The school closed again March 23rd due to concerns about the Coronavirus and reopened again April 20th. Since then the school has remained opened. The one certainty this virus has brought is the need for ongoing change. This can be one of the most difficult challenges schools have ever faced. 

Kerry Nockolds, Director of Admissions and Marketing at Taipei European School, and Greg Varner, Director of Together School, provided insights on how to successfully navigate through change. Kerry’s advice is simple: Ānquán dì yī. This Chinese expression is shown all around Taipei and means “Safety First”.

Change management is not easy as evidenced in the business world where approximately two-thirds of all initiatives fail. The insights for schools to manage the process of change are:

  • Burning Platform: Ensure there is an understood and aligned reason for change. During this Pandemic this platform is understood by everyone but it is important to keep this reason in mind.
  • Vision: Establish a clear vision or guiding principles aligned with your school’s values such as covering the Safety and Well-being of everyone and Education of the Students. This acts as the compass to keep your staff and community aligned.  
  • Priorities: Get buy-in to the priorities starting with leadership team. Use a tool or framework such as Emergency Planning Management to ensure key areas are covered.
  • Communicate: Align with the vision, highlight successes, and address challenges swiftly. Ensure that communication is done regularly both internally and externally within your community.
  • Implement: Define a plan with clear outcomes and celebrate success together. Confidence is key here and everyone needs to feel that the change is making a positive impact.
  • Adapt: Embrace an open mindset using what you have available – be ready to pivot when things are not working. Most experts agree that COVID-19 will continue to be an issue through next school year; so keep the vision in mind.



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