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Perspectives from a Change Manager

By SRAI News posted 07-09-2020 12:06 PM


Perspectives from a Change Manager

Months ago when we thought the worst thing we could be dealt was yet another government shutdown, I agreed to write an article for the Catalyst. I don’t recall  what was going on in my work life on that particular day, but I flippantly chose the topic of “drama in the workplace.”  I had no way of knowing how welcome, first, being in a normal workplace would be now; and second, how anything that might have driven that thought would pale in comparison to the drama we have all seen play out in our global lives these past few months.

I present on a lot of topics with change management being one of those and consider myself to be an adept manager of change. Change does not come without loss: we must leave old comfortable (or comforting) norms and ways behind.  Change may require a transfer of power especially if we don’t adapt. The change curve mirrors that of the grief curve (Kubler-Ross, 1997) and most change initiatives fail (Kotter, 2012).

I have spent a lot of time lately delving deeply into introspective thought, reading copious amounts of literature and having conversations with my friends and family about the horrific scenes we have seen up close and personally on our televisions and through social media. The SRAI Board of Directors issued a collective statement last month reiterating our commitment to inclusion and diversity in response. I will continue to push SRAI to explore every avenue for ensuring that our programming, our events and our learning platforms are aligned with our mission: To develop, define and promote international best practices in research management, administration, knowledge transfer and growth of the research enterprise for everyone but given our current place in history, specifically for our members of color. But the work cannot stop there.

In keeping with the theme for this Catalyst, I have spent much of my reflection reading up on the history of science and, in particular, how unethical practices in human experimentation has led to mistrust of research and inhibited participation by people of color further exacerbating the challenge of ensuring inclusion and diversity in research. While I was aware of the Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and the Tuskegee syphilis experiments that are part of all research integrity training, it was not until I had a discussion with my daughter that I learned of the controversy surrounding experiments conducted by J. Marion Simms, the father of gynecology. When I started researching the subject in preparation for writing this article, I added Medical Apartheid by Harriett A. Washington to my summer reading list. I have made a commitment to myself to do at least one thing daily that keeps me moving forward in my understanding, conversations, advocacy and personal actions. I urge you to do the same.

Real change is not accomplished through statements but by personal commitment to taking action. Without individual dedication to effecting change, history will continue to repeat itself. SRAI has a role in that progress and I am excited to hear from you. I can be reached at


Kotter, J. P. (2012). Leading change. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press
Kubler-Ross, E. (1997) On Death and Dying.  New York, NY: Scribner Publishing Group.

Authored by Susan Wyatt Sedwick, PhD, CRA, CSM
SRAI Distinguished Faculty
SRAI Board of Directors At Large