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Harvard Business Review on Change ("Harvard Business Review" Paperback) Paperback – 1 Sep 1998


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  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business School Press (1 Sept. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0875848842
  • ISBN-13: 978-0875848846
  • Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 15.3 x 1.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 404,222 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Hugh Barnett on 3 Nov. 2000
Format: Paperback
This book was supplied to me as part of my MBA module on Managing Change and it has proved to be an easy-to-read book that covers the topic from a variety of angles. It provides insights into issues of transformation, building visions, why change fails, and much more. Although it is primarily written with the business sector in mind, many of the insights it gives are equally relevant to the UK public sector.
The authors are drawn from both academia and professional business and it is well worth reading.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By paul@farquharson.co.uk on 14 Dec. 2001
Format: Paperback
I was disappointed by this book. HBP books usually live up to my expectations.
I was looking for the practical aspects of change and how change actors tackled the problems they faced. This book has the flavour of a compilation of Harvard Business Review Case Stories.
Nevertheless, it is a good quality book, with plenty of material to feed into 'thought leadership' sessions.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris TOP 100 REVIEWER on 18 Jun. 2007
Format: Paperback
This is one in a series of several dozen volumes that comprise the "Harvard Business Review Paperback Series." Each offers direct, convenient, and inexpensive access to the best thinking on the given subject in articles originally published by the Harvard Business School Review. I strongly recommend all of the volumes in the series. The individual titles are listed at this Web site: [...] The authors of various articles are among the world's most highly regarded experts on the given subject. Each volume has been carefully edited. Supplementary commentaries are also provided in most of the volumes, as is an "About the Contributors" section that usually includes suggestions of other sources that some readers may wish to explore.

In this volume, the reader is provided with eight articles whose authors provide a variety of perspectives on how to strengthen an organization by making necessary changes while minimizing fear, frustration, and resistance. All of the articles first appeared in the HBR from January-February, 1992, to May-June, 1997; some but remarkably little of the material is dated. Here are some of the important business issues to which the contributors direct their (and our) attention:

Which seem to be the most common mistakes made by executives? ("Leading Change" John P. Kotter)

Comment: Kotter identifies eight and suggests how to avoid or repair them.

How to avoid a vague and fuzzy vision concept? ("Building Your Company's Vision," James C. Collins and Jerry I Porras)

Comment: Collins and Porras offer a framework that has two principal parts: core ideology and envisioned future. It was in this article that they introduced their concept of the "Big Hairy Audacious Goal" (BHAG).

How to focus only on what is most important?
Read more ›
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 15 reviews
30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
A positive goldmine 7 Mar. 2002
By Karl - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
In the nicest possible sense, this book isn't exactly what the title claims. All to often discussions of change management tend to concentrate on the people side of things and ignore the less glamerous topics such as re-tooling, revised administrative and reporting procedures and so on.
So, just to keep the record straight, this book is primarily concerned with the personnel aspects of change, with all other aspects of the overall process taking a very secondary part in the proceedings.

And now, on with the review:

One of the ways I judge a book like this is by the number of highlights I've made (makes it so much easier to refer back to the key points).
Sometimes I'll go through an entire book and be lucky to have half a dozen highlighted passage.

NOT here, though.

Without a hint of exaggeration I found numerous points worth highlighting in every one of the eight reprinted articles.

Of course this is not entirely surprising given the list of contributors, which includes such "leaders of the pack" as John Cotter ("Leading Change"), Richard Pascale and Anthony Athos ("The Reinvention Roller Coaster"), and Jerry Porras (Building Your Company's Vision").

I'd also like to commend the article "Managing Change : The Art of Balancing", by Jeanie Daniel Duck, (which ended up with highlighting on nearly every page!).

So, whilst the material is not exactly new (the various items appeared in the Harvard Business Review between 1992 and 1998), I'd suggest this well-chosen set of articles is as important now as when the articles were first published.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Adapt or Perish 30 May 2007
By Robert Morris - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is one in a series of several dozen volumes that comprise the "Harvard Business Review Paperback Series." Each offers direct, convenient, and inexpensive access to the best thinking on the given subject in articles originally published by the Harvard Business School Review. I strongly recommend all of the volumes in the series. The individual titles are listed at this Web site: [...] The authors of various articles are among the world's most highly regarded experts on the given subject. Each volume has been carefully edited. Supplementary commentaries are also provided in most of the volumes, as is an "About the Contributors" section that usually includes suggestions of other sources that some readers may wish to explore.

In this volume, the reader is provided with eight articles whose authors provide a variety of perspectives on how to strengthen an organization by making necessary changes while minimizing fear, frustration, and resistance. All of the articles first appeared in the HBR from January-February, 1992, to May-June, 1997; some but remarkably little of the material is dated. Here are some of the important business issues to which the contributors direct their (and our) attention:

Which seem to be the most common mistakes made by executives? ("Leading Change" John P. Kotter)

Comment: Kotter identifies eight and suggests how to avoid or repair them.

How to avoid a vague and fuzzy vision concept? ("Building Your Company's Vision," James C. Collins and Jerry I Porras)

Comment: Collins and Porras offer a framework that has two principal parts: core ideology and envisioned future. It was in this article that they introduced their concept of the "Big Hairy Audacious Goal" (BHAG).

How to focus only on what is most important? ("Managing Change: The Art of Balancing," Jeanie Daniel Duck)

Comment: When managing change, "the challenge is to innovate mental work, not to replicate physical work. The goal is to teach [everyone involved] how to think strategically, recognize patterns, and anticipate problems and opportunities before they occur."

Why is context so important to beneficial reinvention? ("The Reinvention Roller Coaster: Risking the Present for a Powerful Future," Tracy Goss, Richard Pascale, and Anthony Athos)

Comment: The authors assert that reinvention is not changing what is, but creating what isn't. They explain the importance of assembling a critical mass of key stakeholders, completing an organizational audit, creating urgency while discussing the "undiscussable," harnessing contention, and effectively engineering organizational breakdowns [i.e. what Joseph Schumpeter characterizes as "creative destruction].

What can be learned from the experiences of troubled companies that have fallen victim to "a syndrome with four discernible stages"? ("Changing the Mind of the Corporation," Roger Martin)

Comment: Martin explains what the syndrome is, and, how to avoid or escape from it.

How to accommodate the fact that employees and those who supervise them see change differently? ("Why Do Employees Resist Change?," Paul Strebel)

Comment: Strebel explains what "personal compacts" are, and, how they can they help to reduce resistance to change initiatives.

What to do when an organization seems to be on "death's door"? ("Reshaping an Industry: Lockheed Martin's Survival Story," Norman R. Augustine)

Comment: Augustine offers various "sometimes painful" lessons he learned about best practices when attempting to restructure an endangered organization. He served as chairman and CEO of Martin Marietta for eight years until it became part of Lockheed Martin where he also served as chairman and CEO.

What do results-driven improvement programs involve? ("Successful Change Programs Begin with Results," Robert H. Schaefer and Harvey A. Thomson)

Comment: Early in this article, Schaefer and Thomson observe that most improvement efforts "have as much impact on company performance as a rain dance has on the weather." Then on page 195, they provide an especially informative graphic by which to compare and contrast activity-centered programs with results-driven programs. They then

Those who share my high regard for this volume are urged to check out other volumes in the Harvard Business Review Paperback Series, especially HBR on Leading Through Change and HBR on Becoming a High Performance Manager. Also, James O'Toole's Leading Change, Enterprise Architecture As Strategy co-authored by Jeanne W. Ross, Peter Weill, and David Robertson, Ram Charan's Know-How, Richard Ogle's Smart World, and Seeing What's Next co-authored by Clayton M. Christensen, Scott D. Anthony, and Erik A. Roth.
26 of 31 people found the following review helpful
A GREAT COLLECTION OF INSIGHTFUL ARTICLES! 31 Mar. 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Looking for some informative, original and clear thinking about organizational change? This book is a great choice! In its pages you will find an outstanding collection of articles drawn from past editions of the HBR. This selection includes contributions on change leadership, reasons change efforts fail, and understanding resistance to change. Each article begins with an executive summary which, for the fast-forward crowd, is a big plus.
So many books are merely ONE GOOD ARTICLE embedded in a thicket of verbiage. Chopping away through such a jungle of verbosity for the jist-of-it-all often proves tedious and disappointing. (Blessed are the laconic!) This book, on the other hand, just serves up a bunch of 'jists'.
Happily, the HBSP has published several other collections of this sort on such topics as leadership, knowledge management, and strategies for growth. Each of these is a collection of 'jists'. If you are a person with no time to waste wandering through two or three hundred nonfiction pages for the three or four or maybe, if you are lucky, five good ideas in a book, these collections are for you. Reviewed by Gerry Stern, founder, Stern & Associates, author of Stern's Sourcefinder The Master Directory to HR and Business Management Information & Resources, Stern's CyberSpace SourceFinder, and Stern's Compensation and Benefits SourceFinder.
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Tight, Concise and Has Executive Summaries 23 May 2001
By John Williamson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Do you prefer tight, concise articles compared to eloquent tomes, simply because you don't have the time to read as much as you might like? If that's the case, then here is a great book on change management just for you. This collection is one in a series from the Harvard Business Review, and is just about the most wide-ranging printed resource that this writer has found available for taking on corporate change.
There are articles from such leading authorities on change management as John Kotter (Leading Change), Paul Strebel, and more. Each article opens with an executive summary, helping you decide if you want to tackle that article then and there, or move on to another that fits your interests of the moment.
Sooner or later, change is about people altering the status quo, and those in charge often turn a blind eye to the fact that leadership is singularly the most important issue when an organization has to implement major changes. This is followed closely by teamwork, of which there won't be any without leadership.
Inside the covers you'll find the collected knowledge, opinions and counsel of those executives and consultants who have dealt with change at all levels. If your schedule doesn't permit you to leisurely meander through hundreds of pages to find a few workable ideas upon which to build some change solutions, then this collection should be highly recommended for you.
Organizational Change - Lead, Communicate or step out of the way.... 25 Nov. 2012
By Dawn Rowe - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I first read the Harvard Business Review on Change book two years ago while taking a class at Stanford University. The book served as one of the required readings on the course on managing change. The course and book illustrated that no organization is immune to change. But more importantly, failure to understand the need for change, when to change and how to change, can have a devastating effect on an organization.

This book provides an insider's view on the overriding thesis of in order to have successful organizational change; there are fundamental sequential steps that must be followed. Failure to follow the sequence of steps, taking short cuts or omitting steps will ensure organizational change failure.

The book presents eight articles on change that provide a variety of perspectives on how to address key predictors of successful organizational change efforts all the while gaining support, minimizing fear and inside resistors. This first article outlines each key area for success and or failure, with subsequent articles providing us with a working glimpse of the eight key issues through real life applications.

The book starts with the overriding article that addresses why change in organizations fail and offers steps to help ensure success.

Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail (John P. Kotter, 1995)
Thesis - Change requires guiding the organization through a sequence of steps.

1. Establish a Sense of Urgency

Required Action: Examining market and competitive realities to look for potential crisis and opportunities

Pitfalls: Becoming paralyzed by risk and underestimating how hard it is to getting people out of their comfort zones.

2. Forming a powerful guiding coalition

Actions Required: Assemble a group with a shared commitment and sufficient power to lead the change effort. Encourage the group to work together as a team outside the normal structure.

Pitfalls: a minimum mass is required early in the effort or nothing worthwhile will happen.

3. Create a Vision

Actions Required: Create a vision to help direct the change effort. Developing strategies for achieving that vision

Pitfalls: Creating a vision that is too complex or too vague to be easily understood.

4. Communicating the Vision

Actions Required: Use every vehicle possible to communicate the new vision and strategies for achieving it. Teaching new behaviors by having the guideline coalition model by example.

Pitfalls: Under communicating the vision and behaving in ways that to do not support the vision. Actions speak loader than words. Make sure communication comes in both words and actions.

5. Empowering others to act on the vision

Actions Required: Remove of the obstacles that alter or undermine the vision. Encourage risk taking and nontraditional ideas, activities and actions.

Pitfalls: Failure to remove powerful individuals who resist change efforts.

6 . Plan for and create short-term wins
Action Required: Create metrics for defining success and recognize and rewards employees for their successes.

Pitfalls: Leaving short terms wins to chance. Failure to score successes early on in the change process and allowing people to lose their motivation.

7. Consolidating Improvements and producing still more change

Action Required: Using increased credibility from early wins to change systems, structures and policies that don't fit the vision. Hiring, promoting and developing employees who can implement the vision. Reinvigorating the process with new projects themes and change agents.

Pitfalls: Declaring victory too soon. Allowing resisters to rally the troops and declare war.

8. Institutionalizing new approaches

Action Required: Articulating the connections between the new behaviors and corporate success. Creating leadership development and succession plans that support new long term change efforts.

Pitfalls: Failure to create new social norms that are consistent with new changes and appointing new leaders who to not personify the new change.

Building Your Company's Vision (James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras, 1996)
Thesis- Change requires developing a vision based on core values and a clear purpose.

In this contribution, Collins and Porras offer up a framework to help avoid the problems with a vague or poorly conceived company vision. Their structure consists of two principal parts: core ideology and envisioned future. The authors clear the confusion between core ideology, which consists of values- an organizations fundamental principles and purpose - which is an organizations reason for being; and their envision future a vivid description of their "Big Hairy Audacious Goal" (BHAG).

The authors delineate that "the core purpose is the star on the horizon to be chased forever and the BHAG is the mountain they need to climb" page44. This roadmap is envisioned as a 10 - 30 year goal that if done correctly will only need to be done every ten years or so.

Managing Change: The Art of Balancing (Jeanie Daniel Duck 1993)
Thesis - Change requires a balance throughout an entire organization.

This article looks at how to focus on what is important and stresses the value of transitional management team to ensure consistency, predictability and communication throughout the organization. The goal is to get everyone involved to think strategically and to anticipate problems and opportunities.

Silos of change will not work, it must be balanced throughout an organization to ensure trust. Change does not happen overnight and it is important to understand that everything one does sends a message to those around them. Failure to communicative to all levels sends a very strong message and it is most likely not the message the leaders of change seek to communicate.

This is where transition management teams (TMT) can come to the rescue. A TMT can oversee change efforts and can: establish vision and guidance, stimulate dialogue, provide resources, align projects, communicate, provide opportunities, anticipate problems and prepare others to think feel and act differently. Overall, people issues are at the heart of change and neglecting to address and or include those throughout the organization will lead to alienation.

The Reinvention Roller Coaster: Risking the Present for a Powerful Future (Tracy Goss, Richard Pascale, and Anthony Athos, 1993)
Thesis - Change requires challenging the status quo.

The ideas presented in this article really hit home for me. The concept of not changing what is, but creating what isn't is one that I live with in my current role. Managing the present from the future requires an organization, to a group of key stakeholders that "really make things happen" not just top leadership, conduct an organizational audit, create a sense of urgency, harness contention, and create organizational breakdowns to reveal the weak spots.

The leadership in the organization I work for could really benefit from this self reflection process. It is clear that without such reinvention, they are starting to sink. The authors state "with no awareness of the power of context, we continue to heat our heads against the same wall." And this is clearly the case with my program. Leadership's failure to look outside the box and challenge their original thinking is having a devastating impact on our retention and recruitment efforts and until they gain the courage to do such self reflection, our program will die a slow and inevitable death which I will present in my organizational analysis paper next week.

Changing the Mind of the Corporation (Roger Martin, 1993)
Thesis - Change requires aligning change efforts with the organization's mission

This article looks at what lessons can be learned from the experiences of troubled companies that have fallen victim to "a syndrome with four discernible stages" (pg.117). Martin explains that organizations by nature, resist new truths and that as a change agent, leadership must understand the organizations old life. Old visions die hard, as rules and organizational structures stay in place to support old ideals. New changes are ignored.

This type of organization needs to show employees that the ways of doing business will no longer work in the marketplace. They need to show then that the market has changed and long term viability is not possible without change and that change is ongoing and reflective. A new language is created and communicated to all employees. This language is everywhere and often. Employees need to feel comfortable with understanding the language and with submitting their ideas without being threatened. In return employees will begin to relate to and understand the need for change and the risks involved and support the organizations efforts.

Why Do Employees Resist Change? (Paul Strebel, 1996)
Thesis - Change requires gaining support and trust throughout "personal compacts."

This article presents the notion that despite best efforts of organizations, most attempts at change fail because employees and management see change differently. Management often sees change as good the business and themselves whereas employees often see change as disruptive and intrusive.

Strebel explains in his article that one was to reduce the resistance to change is through what he calls "personal compacts"---the mutual obligations and commitments that exist between employees and the organization. These compacts are comprised of three dimensions, formal, psychological and social.
Employees ask questions along these dimensions and how the organization responds is the key to successful change. In summary to fully understand how an employee feels about a given dimension, they must learn to see things from the employees' perspective.

Reshaping an Industry: Lockheed Martin's Survival Story (Norman R. Augustine, 1997)
Thesis - Change requires understanding what the future holds and what changes are necessary to ensure long term viability.

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent; it is the one that is most adaptable to change. --Charles Darwin

This chapter was written by the former chairman and CEO of Martin Marietta and Lockhead Martin and shows us that there are many "painful" lessons to learn during the restricting efforts of an organization.

The survival story concludes with a very important lesson in that is there are only two kinds of companies--those that are changing and those that are going out of business. "As a European aerospace executive said when describing the still inefficient operations of many defense companies on the Continent, `There are many of us dead now, we just don't know it yet'." (pg. 162)

Successful Change Programs Begin with Results (Robert H. Schaffer and Harvey A. Thomson, 1997)
Thesis - Change requires involves shifting away from activity centered programs to results driven programs.

This article looks at the issue that most corporate change programs mistake processes for outcomes where they should be focusing on results not activities. In this article we see the value of organizations that have replaced activity centered programs to results-driven improvement. I particularly found the comparison diagram on page 194 extremely helpful with showing the differences in improvement efforts. Having had the pleasure of being a change agent in more than on organization, I can attest to the differences listed on the comparison page. More importantly, I can testify that working in a results oriented environment is much less stressful as the organization understands that results take time as opposed to looking for immediate short term results that are a false product of impatience.

Harvard Business Review, Harvard Business School Press, 1998
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