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Strategies for Change

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Jack Lindquist, Ph.D. and William Bergquist, Ph.D.

During the 1970s Jack Lindquist and I (William Bergquist) worked together quite frequently in helping to bring about change in many American colleges and universities. We were sometimes referred to as the “Swedish mafia.” Unfortunately, unlike the more official Mafia, we didn’t have the resources to make offers that academic leaders “couldn’t refuse.” However, we did have some success, and Jack went on to become President of Goddard College (one of the truly innovative educational institutions in the United States and an heir to the educational philosophy of John Dewey).

During this remarkable decade, Jack Lindquist (with his mentor, Arthur Chickering) received a grant from the National Institute for Mental Health to study change in American college teaching, curriculum and evaluation. Six liberal arts colleges and two universities across the country participated from 1971 to 1975 in an action-research project called Strategies for Change and Knowledge Utilization. As one of the largest research projects of its kind in American higher education, Strategies for Change yielded some remarkable insights about not only change in collegiate institutions, but also change in virtually every kind of contemporary institution. I had the privilege of publishing the book, Strategies for Change, which summarized the findings from Jack’s four-year long project. Unfortunately, my publishing house (Pacific Soundings Press) was not very big. I had neither the time nor financial resources to extensively promote this remarkable book, though I wrote more than a dozen articles and four books (with Jossey-Bass) that built on and referenced the findings from Jack’s book.

Tragically, Jack Lindquist died a few years after his book was published. He never had a chance to disseminate the insights he gained from this project. To use one of his own favorite phrases, the “diffusion” efforts were thwarted and the leaders of change efforts throughout North America (and the world) were unable to benefit from the insights offered by Jack Lindquist. The light he offered sadly remained covered.

I recently had occasion to dust off my own copy of Strategies for Change. I found that it was filled with insights that are still relevant in the formulation of 21st Century change initiatives. I particularly found his introductory chapter on four fundamental strategies to be still invaluable. These strategies (a coherent set of assumptions about effective change) built on findings from an even earlier project conducted by Ronald Havelock and his colleagues at the University of Michigan’s Center for Research on the Utilization of Scientific Knowledge. In honor of both Lindquist and Havelock, I have edited and updated the first chapter of Strategies for Change and offer it as a framework to be used by those planning for change efforts or those who are coaching and consulting with other men and women who have taken on the challenge of planned change.

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