Fan perspective: stages of change in Aggieland

If you're like me you've heard all the turn-around stories about Coach Fran, and watch A&M play each week hoping to see that instant where it all "clicks" for the team....

If you're like me you've heard all the turn-around stories about Coach Fran, and watch A&M play each week hoping to see that instant where it all "clicks" for the team--as if some magical light is going to go on inside their helmets and we'll see a different team on the field than we've seen so far. We know it took nine games at Alabama, and we understand that our team isn't Alabama, but we watch hoping that it might come earlier than it did for them. Although that's probably not going to happen, it's a possibility...we can hope.

So when will it click? I think we have to understand what "click" means before that question can be answered. I started surfing the net looking for answers that I suspected were connected with Coach Fran and his ability to turn programs around. What I found was lots of information about how organizations (teams) change.

Organizations and people go through the same process of change, and that's exactly what a turnaround is, a change. Almost all sources I found agree that change is a process of stages that a person or organization must go through in order to realize (accept) a new vision. The sources I found call the stages by different names, but they basically say the same thing:

Denial – In this stage people, and the organization as a whole, don't accept the change and often revert back to what they know because that's what they're comfortable with. Its human nature, and therefore organizational nature, to seek balance and comfort. A team in this stage is characterized by common mistakes similar to the mistakes made before the new vision was offered. The team is focused on the past and not the present or future.

Resistance – In this stage people and the organization (team) can be characterized as angry. The anger is a result of newfound uncertainty and anxiety. They have finally accepted that there is a new vision and they rebel against it. It's interesting that in this stage emotions are very lackluster, flat, and dull, usually as a result of depression.

Exploration – In this stage the team is ready to accept that there has been a change, but is confused as to how to implement the change. This stage is characterized by a lot of emotional energy. Chaos and disorganization seem to prevail, but its clear that the people are now ready and willing.

Commitment – In this stage the team is working together again, the team "clicks". Cooperation and a sharper focus emerge during this stage. The new vision is accepted and all are focused on attaining it.

It's important to note that not all people go through the steps of change at the same pace. There may be players who are already committed, and there may be players who will never commit. This will cause gray areas when trying to pinpoint what stage the team is at, but by watching the team play, clues will emerge and let us know where the majority of players fall. For example, in the Texas Tech game an overriding observation was that our players played unmotivated and flat. To me that suggests that the majority of our team is probably in the Resistance phase of change.

So when will the team "click"? Who knows, but by understanding the process of change we might be able to glean some understanding of where our team is currently. I suspect that with strong leadership the team will move through the process fairly quickly, also realizing that there will be a few players who move through very slowly. Unfortunately some of the ones who move through slowly may be the ones we need to step up the most. Don't confuse "clicking" with winning, it's very possible for the Aggies to win games and still not have reached that level of commitment from the players that we anxiously await. However, once the team has reached the level of commitment I suspect we'll see the turned around team that Coach Fran is infamous fore developing, and the wins will come, abundantly.


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