I'm discussing the acronym for organizational change--RIPE. Let's review.
One way to make organization change more palatable for folks is to propose it as a test or an experiment. You can do this, when practical, by suggesting a pilot project for the change. When I introduced small group spiritual discernment in a congregation, I could have rolled it out as an organization-wide initiative. That would have required huge amounts of energy and likely would have failed for that reason alone.
Instead, I recruited a "turbo" or pilot group to have the experience first. That test accomplished several things. It required far less energy. I could handpick the participants who would offer the greatest chance of success for the test. I could work out the bugs before a larger roll-out. I could build a cadre of cheerleaders for the initiative. And as the experiment unfolded, I was training potential leaders for additional groups once the pilot experience was completed.
All of those benefits accrued to the project. The pilot group spent a year in the experience, and then we were ready to launch a larger effort in the congregation.
Another way to introduce a test or experiment is to suggest a limited time frame for the test. That time frame needs to be identified up front. In addition, you need to specify an evaluation procedure and the benchmarks for measuring the success of the experiment. Finally, you need to announce the time and manner for adopting or abandoning the test initiative as a permanent feature of the organization.
Sometimes congregations need to change their worship schedule. This is a very big deal for many church folks. When I have led congregations through that process, I have suggested that we try the alternative schedule for a year and then evaluate it. In the church, a year is a good testing time for most large scale changes. Church life has its seasons and its annual cycle. What works at one time of the year may not work through the whole year. Other organizations will have different natural test cycles.
In the life of the church, almost anything that becomes the "second annual" installment will become the norm. We only have to do things a few times in order to believe that we've always done it that way. On the one hand, this makes test periods very useful for easing into major changes. On the other hand, make sure the change is something you as a leader really want. Otherwise you might be stuck with a change that didn't work out so well.
Most organizational experiments are variations on these themes.
Is your group RIPE for a change? The acronym is a good check list to make sure that you lead your group through the change with less conflict and more appreciation.