Strategic Communication During Whole-System Change

by Francis M. Duffy and Patti L. Chance, Rowman & Littlefield Education, Lanham, Md., 2006, 262 pp., $34.95 softcover

Clear communication is always needed, and in situations where lasting whole-system change is desired, communication must be strategic, clear, focused, and concise. Francis M. Duffy, a professor in education change leadership at Gallaudet University, and Patti L. Chance, an associate professor in the Department of Educational Leadership at the University of Nevada, explain strategies in their book Strategic Communication During Whole-System Change.

Divided into three sections, the book provides detail justifying the need for strategic communication, how the communication can support the change, and stories from actual school districts. Scholarly references are included within the content of each chapter making it appropriate as a text for a college course. While containing excellent information, it is not a quick read for sitting superintendents.

Solid information is presented on the importance of relationships with various publics and how to build trust with community and staff members. There are three paths to improvement: improving the relationship with the external public, improving the main work and the supporting work of a district, and improving the social structure of the district. In addition, ways to improve the board of education’s role in communication during change are included.

While the need for information is at an all-time high, trust in public institutions is at an all-time low. As the authors state, “Transformational change requires courageous, passionate, and visionary leadership.” For those seeking advice on the development of focused, effective communication during times of change, the book provides a great amount of information.

Reviewed by Linda Gray Smith, superintendent, Chillicothe R2 School District, Chillicothe, Mo.