Jansen’s Four Rooms
A simple but useful approach for thinking about change and challenge comes from the work of Claes Janssen, PhD, researcher, author and psychologist. Janssen defines Four Rooms. He states that there is constant cycling through these four rooms.
When all is fine, enrollments, and projections for the future are bright we will continue to conduct business as usual and rest on our laurels in The Room of Contentment. When the data starts to suggest things are not so rosy, we will find our self questioning and move into The Room of Denial, where we will stay for a short period time but invariable move back and forth between contentment and denial before introducing significant change.
However, once there is a critical mass of data suggesting old ways are not sustainable– things such as a sudden significant dip in enrollment, an increase of families requesting financial aid, the threat of highly credible local Charter Schools, or a precipitous drop in positive economic and demographic trends in our catch area, and we will move head first into The Room of Confusion where we will need to innovate and find new ways of operating. It is in this phase where consultants are helpful as they help guide stakeholders who may see the opportunities for addressing issues differently or need to be exposed to less insular thinking to develop strategies that fit the demands of the changing conditions in which they are functioning.
From here a new energy and new inspiration comes through as we move into the Room of Renewal where strategies are refined and improved and all are inspired by their ability to have shown such resilience in the face of adversity. From there its back to The Room of Contentment and the process recycles again.