Change – Richard Gerver

In my last post I spoke about Richard Gerver’s presentation at the BETT conference in London last month. I was impressed enough to buy his book, Change, on Amazon. Worth a look for anyone who has to think about or manage the fast pace of change, especially technological change, in their work or organization. It might not change your life, but it will help you live more comfortably with change.

Change cover

This blog is dedicated to Blended Learning, by definition, the combination of face to face teaching with learning which takes place in the online/digital environment. We need to embrace technology in our field, not fear it. Richard Gerver nudges us in the right direction.

‘Change’ is an accessible, practical guide to accepting and relishing the creativity and energy of technological developments. Richard’s background in education means it has great resonance with those of us who work in education management, but the principals he outlines are relevant to just about everybody given the ubiquitous impact of technology on our lives, the way we work and learn.

Richard challenges us to reflect on what it really is we are trying to achieve, whatever our field, project or role. So I did a little reflecting myself: I founded Go English 13 years ago with my partner, Peter Gardiner, and things have certainly changed since then. My reflections have led me to realize that fundamentally our vision is the same as it was then:


Richard inspires us to be leaders and to facilitate an atmosphere in those around us where creativity is valued and promoted; where people are not scared to speak their minds and where failure is recognised as an essential part of the learning and innovation process. If you are scared of falling over, you will never learn to ski. Lose that fear, and you will love learning in spite of the occasional accident.

As I reflected on how to transmit the values Richard explores here, I came up with my own acronym, which I will share with you at the risk of sounding like a training manual:


C – Creativity: to be nurtured, not crushed. So many of our education systems are obsessed with meeting targets and passing exams that we have become programmed to avoid ‘failure’ at all costs. This suffocates innovation and originality. We must positively encourage creativity to offset the balance.

O- Orginality: ‘When you create change you can be wrong,’’ acknowledges Richard, “but always believe you are doing it for the right reasons”. If you are never wrong you will never be truly original. Encourage people to take the risk to be original. They will not always be right, but if they are scared of sounding stupid, they will never share the truly original ideas they come up with.

U- Unity: The team is stronger than its constituent parts. When we’re all rowing together life is so much easier. But to do so we need to trust each other and share a common vision. That’s why it is so important to reflect on what that vision is and to make sure your team shares it with you. Once you all agree on where you’re going it’s a lot easier to cox the boat.

R- Reflection: an essential part of learning, growing and changing. Stop for a moment. Stare out of the window. Switch off – and allow time to do so. The eureka moment will come while you’re jogging, sitting on a train doing bugger all, or walking your dog. One of my best ideas came while watching Hull City play football – a suitably nebulous activity.

S – Share: don’t keep that great idea to yourself. Share it. By sharing we promote originality and we test out each others ideas. If we have that trust to voice our ideas and not fear ridicule we all benefit. We feel we have a way to express ourselves, which is necessary and healthy.

E- Excellence: always strive for it. We need to want to be extraordinary. It is not enough to just get by.

So, I recommend you buy and read Richard’s great little book. It’s not a life changer, but it does make a change.

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2 comments on “Change – Richard Gerver
  1. Catherine Maughan says:

    Great post James. Can’t wait to read the book!

  2. Charrie says:

    Very interesting- I especially like the “C” section of the COURSE acronym.

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