The Change Gym began under a different name in February 2010. If you’re interested to hear our story thus far, here it is.
Let’s go back before 2010. In the first decade of the 21st century, Steve and Stephanie Barlow (the founders) worked in government jobs. Stephanie worked mainly with unemployed people, helping them with job readiness and job education programs. Steve worked in a correctional centre running anger management programs for maximum security inmates.
It is often very difficult for long-term unemployed people to turn their lives around and find ways to participate actively in the workforce. It is also very difficult for prison inmates with many barriers to integrate back into society and live long-term, pro-social lives. Many people struggle to succeed at these challenges, and it’s not difficult to see why. What is more difficult to understand is how and why some people do change.
This was the question that caught Steve’s imagination. What is it that some people bring to a very difficult change process that enables them to succeed at it? How can you identify and measure that thing, and what are the implications of it for the organisation’s core business?
This became the focus of Steve’s PhD research and it eventually gave rise to the concepts of personal change fitness and organisational change readiness. Put simply, people with more change fitness find it easier to succeed at difficult change. This concept has many important implications.
After 6 years of study, Steve completed the PhD. His thesis was selected from the 11 universities in NSW to win the prestigious Research Award for an outstanding doctoral thesis.
Steve and Stephanie wanted to apply their deep knowledge of change fitness and change readiness to help other people. In February 2010 they began a business, called ‘Redequip’ (pronounced ‘ready quip’) – a name that ties together the ideas of being ready and equipped for change.
The original business idea was to advise businesses on how to create change plans that are responsive to the change fitness strengths and limitations of stakeholders. They decided it was necessary to create a psychometric screening tool based on Steve’s research. They engaged Australia’s leading psychometric test development expert to direct the project and created IRVEY®. IRVEY measures people’s change fitness in 7 key areas and compares their scores to the general population.
In 2014, Redequip began trading under the name ‘The Change Gym’. This change reflected the evolving nature of the business. It became apparent to Steve and Stephanie that a further step was needed in their business model. It was fine to tell leaders about the change fitness/readiness strengths and limitations of their people, but it was better to have solutions to offer them. There needed to be a way to help organisations develop their people to become more adaptable, more agile, and more positive towards change. In other words, to become people who can succeed at change.
This decision led to the development of a suite of coaching programs. Coaches who become involved undergo a coach professional development program accredited by the International Coach Federation where they gain the knowledge and skills to become Certified Change Fitness Coaches. They may then become licensed to delver coaching programs and tools that promote promote the change fitness growth of clients.
To date we have had coaches participate in our programs from Australia, New Zealand, USA, Spain, UAE, Vietnam, Iceland, and Finland. A number of these coaches have become Certified Change Fitness Coaches, enabling us to return to our original vision (now somewhat expanded).
We are currently returning to our original vision of offering change readiness audits for organisations, but now to be able to offer coaching and mentoring services to help build long-term change capacity. This incorporates both an Organisational Development focus and a change management focus.
What is unique and powerful about our change readiness assessment strategy is that we analyse three areas of readiness: the readiness of the management team/process, the ‘buy-in readiness’ of stakeholders, and the change fitness capacity of the stakeholders. Taken together, this provides the clearest and most comprehensive assessment of an organisation’s change readiness available on the market. This strategy is grounded in rigorous research and development.
In addition to running The Change Gym, Steve and Stephanie are both lecturers and industry experts at the University of Tasmania. They are involved in teaching a course in leading and managing change to post-graduate students in the School of Medicine. This course also focuses on change fitness and change readiness theory.
That gives you some idea of what we are doing with The Change Gym. There are many opportunities for others to get involved. If you’re a coach and you’d like to expand your repertoire, we have plenty to offer. If you’re a change manager or OD professional, there are opportunities here. If you think there might be something here for you, we’d love to hear from you. Click on the button below to arrange a time to talk.