Three models of change in scientific theories,...
Three models of change in scientific theories, depicted graphically to reflect roughly the different views associated with Karl Popper, Thomas Kuhn, and Paul Feyerabend. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I went to the B204 Leadership, Influencing and Change tutorial in the LSE a week or so ago, and I learnt quite a bit about TMAs and engaging with B204’s course material. In summary there’s a lot of material on this course, and you can’t read it all. So don’t try.

A key part of the critical thinking required is choosing what to read, and knowing when you’ve got enough theory to answer the questions. B204 doesn’t have an exam, so you don’t need to cram everything in your head.

Useful B204 Leadership Theories

The tutor suggested that a good strategy for B204 Leadership, Influencing and Change was to focus on a small number of theories that you could readily apply to your assignments and work context. The key part here was only to use theories that appear in the course material. If you have a theory that you like then you must check both the books and the online course materials for it before using it.

The most useful theories that we identified in the B204 tutorial were:

  • Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership, (Kouzes & Posner, 2009) – this is good because it gives prescriptive actions, so it is easy to apply. It is also easy to read and understand.
  • Force Field Analysis, (Lewin, 1940) – useful to see where the drivers and opposing forces of change are, and to give you ideas on how to turn them (NB don’t strengthen the drivers, divert the opposing forces).
  • Suitable, Acceptable, Feasible, (Johnson & Scholes) – comes from the planning for change arena, but a good set of tests for whether or not to proceed with an idea/initiative.
  • Reasons Transformational Changes Fail, (Kotter) – there are eight actionable steps in this, which are specific enough that you can use them to evaluate any proposed change.
  • Sources of Power (Raven) – a good understanding of the facets of power and how you can use them to effect change.

B204 TMA Advice

This advice might be helpful for other subjects, but it might not. B204 Leadership, Influencing and Change is a complex and messy course with vaguer than usual marking schema. This makes it a lot harder for the practiced OU student to work out how well they’ve answered the question by comparing it to the guidance.

Here are some bullets from the tutorial (I was listening closely for clues):

  • A well told and detailed story will get you most of the marks. Show interpersonal interaction with conscious use of the course theory.
    • The Situation, Task, Actions, Result (STAR) model is useful to structure your answer (often used in job applications/interviews).
    • Conscious use of theory can be post-hoc, so long as you can link your action to the relevant theory
  • Don’t explain the theory, just use it. Explain what you have done and how that is explained by the theory.
  • Making only one point per paragraph, with just one reference per point.
  • Choose only the most relevant parts of a theory, the part that you can apply to your specific situation.
  • Aim for a good grasp of 2-3 theories and use them well.