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on 16 July 2013
Part 2 (part 1 below)

One person cannot be the sole catalyst for change. Great ideas can come from anywhere. You have to trust your team.

These thoughts on leading change from Richard Gerver, formerly a star head teacher and now a travelling speaker, form a cornerstone of Change, his exciting new book published by Penguin.

Gerver is a maverick and most independent retailers will warm to him immediately from the pacey prologue. Change is a short book. It is beautifully presented and filled with ideas that will encourage you to live your dreams and to connect to other people.

"We have all got to stop assuming we live in unique little silos that nobody else could possibly understand," says Gerver.

He recommends that you take time out from your shop to explore the world and learn half-a-day at a time from other people's experiences. His book is not about self-help nor is it a management book. What Change does do is give readers ideas on how their ideas about developing their businesses (and lives) are worthwhile.

As a head master of a small school, Gerver had to manage everything himself. People used to bring him problems and feel they had done their job leaving him to solve them. What he found was that his real role was to refuse to be responsible for everything. The more risk he took in empowering the people who worked for him, the better results they achieved together.

His book is packed full of interesting stories followed by questions and suggestions about what readers might want to do next. At one level, readers can substitute shop staff for teachers and customers for schoolchildren. This works powerfully.

"Kids, like customers, are not stupid. You ignore them at your peril," says Gerver. "They don't like being passed off with something that you, yourself don't particularly care about."

Teachers used to do things because they were told by people at the top that they were safe things to do. The children saw through this and did not respond. What we had to do was change the focus and say we're not here for the government but for the children, says Gerver. So we built the school for the children, to make it as exciting as Disneyland, so they were queuing up every morning to come to school.

Similarly with your customers: Gerver encourages you to trust your instincts and to do what you think is right. While he respects rules, he also believes in adapting them if they don't work.

Change is "not a how-to manual that says if you do this, this will happen. What I want is to actuate open-ended questions and to sit back and watch the power that leads to dramatic transformation", he says.

Gerver's book is about an outlook on life that will suit the sensibilities of many independent business people. He observes that "knowledge that is not passed through the heart is dangerous." If you like this idea, you will like his book. Reading it will challenge and encourage you to be a lot braver about making your own decisions, about delegating and about listening to your customers.

Part 1 (main review is above)

The most memorable idea in John Stanley's keynote presentation at the Local Shop Summit was that the world of retailing will change more in the next five years than it has in the past 100.

As a result, local shopkeepers were going to have to change their thinking, embracing things like using social media to establish themselves as "day makers" for their local communities.

The usual suspects heard his message and their positive feedback energised the team who put together the event. But what of the other retailers there: what were they thinking? I don't know but I will have a stab at it.

One of the first retailers I met more than 20 years ago when I started to cover this industry ran a small local shop and was passionate about his customers and what he sold. In the town where he operated, his shop had a reputation as the place to go for hobby magazines and collectables. His passion for news and for stocking the latest stuff translated into a successful business.

However, as the industry changed and as shoppers changed he refused to change the way he operated. So enlightened in terms of understanding what shoppers wanted, this man was openly dismissive of investing in EPOS. His business horizons were limited by the size of his shop, which was small.

But he was a driven man and he had a cause, which remains a just cause. He wanted newspaper publishers, in particular, to return terms to 26.5% which had been the case in the 1980s when his business was doing well.
His tragedy was that as shopping habits changed and as more competition arrived and as the ubiquity of his offer diminished he was left selling commodities in a shop with no advantages of scale.

For him, change was a negative. As the world changed, he would think fondly of the past. Collectively with retailers like him, he hoped they could agitate for special protection from the market. This strategy has still not delivered. It was not a wrong cause. The mistake was, however, not to embrace change.

My next column will be about how to embrace change, with an interview with Richard Gerver, who has written a remarkable book on the subject of Change.

Gerver made his name working in education as the national curriculum was introduced and as a generation of teachers abandoned the profession because of change. His personal stories will appeal to the maverick soul that every good independent possesses. When you read about his staff and his pupils, think about your staff and your customers and the power of the book will be clear.

And think on his words: "At what point did we start to wish that Christmas was just like it used to be, for television programmes that crackled and in black and white?"

Nostalgia for a lost past is not the path, he says. Change is part of our lives and his book explains how you can thrive in a world of change.
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on 6 July 2013
The title pretty much says it all - this book is about embracing change and working with it as part of your every day life, rather then treating it as a start/stop event. Think of it as a continuous cycle. I found the book easy and clear to read. The points are clearly expressed. Anyone who works for a company that lives by S.M.A.R.T. for performance management will value reading this book. When I finished I found myself thinking "How could get the senior management at my company to read this?"
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on 18 February 2014
I resonated with much of the information in this book. An easy read; with much emphasis placed on how one can shape school culture; work with colleagues; make a difference to the lives of students; shift attitude(s) in their own life, as well as others. I found myself thinking about the vision and values discussed in this book constantly - even when not reading. It's the first book I've read cover to cover in a long time... and that's coming from a very busy senior teacher and blogger who has little time on their hands. I think, if you are prepared (or looking to create Change); this book will be for you. It has impacted on my thinking and has re-affirmed my beliefs and goals.
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on 4 January 2014
I feel very annoyed by this book. By the logic of this book therefore this must be because I am a)nostalgic;b) resistant to change or c)a victim of a poorly performing system of education that must be systematically destroyed by next Tuesday. I prefer to think I am annoyed by it because it is shallow and glib and distortedly shiny.
It feels like something the ruling classes in "1984" would produce for its leader cadre to read. "Change is good for you the people" would go the slogan, whilst the cadre go to the unchanging public schools; maybe Oxbridge colleges and certainly, establishment jobs and institutional gigs. It is of course no surprise the author is public school educated.
The author quotes Ronald Reagan and the silly religious novel "The Shack" for inspiration and if that doesn't put you off then nothing will. The book does nothing for any reader that half an hour in a dentist's waiting room full of old "Readers Digests" would not do. Compared to academic works on school change (Hattie, Claxton et al) it is vapid and smug and compared to real teachers writing (Beadle et al) it has nothing to offer. If you are from the world of business and need this then heaven help us all.
It can be summed up as embrace change and surely a fridge magnet is cheaper and less time consuming when you could be reading something else.
It is a truism that the only people to profit from a gold rush are those who sell the tools to the "rush" and not the majority of the miners. The gold rush in the UK since 1979 has been the dismantling of the state for cash purposes and education is the last in line for this process with teachers eventually to be replaced by online schemes from media mogul firms. The profiteers are the consultants who will never be around for long enough to pick up the pieces, like the Vatican of years gone by they simply move from one state of certainty to another.They just might love this book -everyone else should avoid.
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on 22 August 2014
Really enjoyed reading this book and many of the ideas I could relate to. Richard puts his thoughts into easy to digest sections and gives clear points on how you can enact change, in your organisation. Well worth a read!
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on 26 August 2014
Beautifully written, engaging and challenging, a must read for all leaders who want to reflect on their leadership. The narratives are explored and analysed through autobiographical references. Made me think. Inspired me to act. Proof of its effectiveness will be evidenced in my own practice.
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on 15 July 2013
Having heard Richard speak at an after-dinner event, it was interesting to read his book and find out the background to his experiences. Great read and very useful insight into how people think and react. A good bedside book to dip into for trying out new ideas the next day.
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on 15 July 2013
I will come clean...I know Richard. I love his messages and I like his style. He has bigger thoughts than I'm capable of (and a much bigger ego!)

So it's no surprise that I loved his first book. And you won't fall off your chair to find out this one went down well too

'Change', you see, is part and parcel of life. I have an inkling that in 500 years, when we're all long gone, historians will look back at this period of history and marvel at what we went through. And Richard captures this feeling very well. Too many organisations still see 'change' as an 'initiative' or a 'project' whereas it's just what we do.

Richard's book is semi-autobiographical, so we get an insight into the awesome changes he made in his time as a head teacher. So, although he doesn't ram the message down the reader's throat, the subconscious message is clear - that Richard isn't talking about 'change' as a theoretical concept. He's actually at the forefront of it.

In the current economic climate, many people are worn down by change. If you need a fresh perspective or a pick-me-up, this is the book for you
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on 7 January 2014
saw him speaking live and had to get the book, must admit had it months and still only a few pages in. wouldn't recommend reading if you are a working parent but definitely worth going to see him
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on 11 January 2014
Richard Gerver delivers his ideas in a straightforward and uncomplicated fashion. This book really did open my eyes. It came highly recommended to me and I would highly recommend it to others.
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