The Four Rooms of Change® is a theory about change. The theory originates from the psychologist and researcher Claes Janssen´s work that shows how an individual or group moves through different psychological states of mind, during the change process. It also shows how we, as individuals, experience reality differently, and how these differences can prevent collaboration, change, and development. Based on these research results, Janssen developed a series of a practical and user-friendly analytical instrument, models and tools that are used with great success with individuals, groups, business and social systems.
For this feature post, we have interviewed Carina Boman who is the CEO and principal of Mo Gård school about her use of the Four Rooms of Change in her organization in recent years.
On an early spring morning in 2016, I took the train to Stockholm with my assistant principal. This trip was the beginning of a continuous journey that brought with it change and development on many levels, both in my work life and for me personally.
The challenges there and then were mainly:
- a new management organization had been tested for one year and received mostly positive feedback
- there was a need for increased consensus both within and between the activities of the four locations
- there were things that needed to be lifted up in the light and processed
- we needed to create an action plan, due to the new regulation from The Swedish Work Environment Authority’s (AFS). The statutory collection had come in 2015 with special demands on the organizational and social work environment
The start was a day’s workshop in Stockholm at Fyrarummaren AB (Four Rooms of Change) where we got to try two analytical instruments, Introduction to the Four Rooms of Change, and the Organization Barometer®.
I discovered that the Four Rooms engaged all participants in the process. Unlike a traditional lecture, we were involved and created the Four Rooms ourselves based on our life and work experiences.
Mapping our organization with the help of the Organization Barometer confirmed and clarified the picture of the situation in the school that I and my assistant principal already shared. With the Four Room perspective, the picture became crystal clear and provided insight into what really needed to be addressed. We continued our analysis on the train back and when we arrived home we had in hand an almost completed action plan that would lead to where we are today.
After the workshop. I contacted Eva Widegren at Fyrarummaren AB (Four Rooms of Change) and consolidated my ideas. Because I run the school remotely, I saw the value of all the units being able to gather for a common kick-off. Involving everyone was essential. All employees at the four units would complete the same task that I had tried out during the workshop, now with more time for dialogue. Three days in August 2016 we met at a conference hotel in Skåne.
My assistant and I were excited for our staff to have their own experience what the Four Rooms of Change. It was our hope that they would have the same positive experience as we had during the workshop. We realized that it was possible to achieve this by working closely with our consultant Eva Widegren.
The work started by inviting all employees to create the Four Rooms of Change. They learned that the Four Rooms are actually four psychological states of mind called CONTENTMENT, SELF-CENSORSHIP, CONFUSION, and INSPIRATION. And, that we are in different rooms in different life situations at home and at work. We used this knowledge during the workshop and it became the common language for the staff to discuss difficult and often problematic topics during the Organizational Barometer.
The Organizational Barometer that follows the introduction then measures how the working group feels and works on the basis of the four psychological rooms. With the Organization Barometer, it is also clear how to increase contentment and inspiration in the work groups, as well as decrease censorship and confusion.
The agreement with Eva included a follow-up with a new Organizational Barometer after one year.
After some time passed, Eva called and asked how it was going. In that conversation, she asked if I was considering getting certified. It was a good question and in January 2017 I started my certification journey with the Förändringens fyra rum (Four Rooms of Change). Now I was better equipped to follow up the results myself and implement the working method in my business unit. During the Certification year, there was close support with continuous supervision from the certification management and my mentor was still Eva Widegren who already got to know me and my organization.
An open climate, participation, and influence are very important to me. The Four Rooms of Change have done a lot for the feeling of being one school, although we are in four places.
We have had a couple of open conflicts here in recent years, the Four Room has been an invaluable tool in the process of finding a solution. We started with individual conversations to understand why the parties were dissatisfied or angry. This led to individual coaching that was beneficial for all involved. To maintain our levels of contentment and inspiration we start each day using the tool, the magnetic board with everyone checking in at the morning meeting at all locations. This makes it easier to leave what might have happened in the morning in the teacher’s room when it is time to go out and work.
This work then led to personal commitments and action plans. It offers a problem-solving process that becomes concrete and action-oriented. The action plans we received during the days together we decided to follow-up on with the various units during their meetings monthly.
At the school, we have succeeded in integrating the Four Rooms of Change into the systematic work environment. The employees can easily place themselves in the room that best represent where they are in the situation today. If there are more issues in the workgroup it is noticed early and they can handle it directly.
Here Carina gives us an example:
From my certification program, I had learned and worked with the Personal Dialectic with the Outsider Scale. This analytical instrument is brilliant for work on and with interpersonal conflicts because it helps all to understand why the conflicts exist without blaming. When we understood that there was an employee who was not working well with colleagues, we asked: Can the Four Rooms help in this situation?
With the help of the analytical instrument Personal Dialectics, acceptance and understanding of each other and the conflict resolved itself. Now work is underway where all employees in all units will be given the opportunity to complete the Personal Dialectics with the Outsider Scale. To maintain our organizational health and well-being; we decided to take a re-measure using the Organizational Barometer at least once per year.
I am happy and grateful, the Four Rooms of Change has changed my life. To use the Four Rooms of Change in my everyday life at my school and today as a consultant in other activities is enormously meaningful, exciting and interesting.
Carina Boman is CEO of Bomans Collaboration Art AB as well as the CEO and principal of Mo Gård school.
The interview made by Helena Yli-Koski