Change or Die: The Three Keys to Change at Work and in Life Paperback – 26 Dec 2007
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About the Author
Alan Deutschman is a senior writer at Fast Company and the author of two previous books, The Second Coming of Steve Jobs and A Tale of Two Valleys. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with his wife.
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Top customer reviews
Why does the criminal pentitentiary system fail within 6 months for two-thirds of cases?
How did Toyota win over disgruntled GM motor employees and turn the Fremont site into a Lean showcase?
Deutschman shows that facts and fear are no panacea to change. The real key is to give people hope and Deutschman takes the reader through many successful case studies based on 3 keys, or the 3Rs: Relate, Repeat & Reframe. In addition to the three main case studies, the book also covers studies of significant change initiatives at IBM, Yahoo & MicroSoft amongst others as well as in the author's personal life. The book can be recommended as an interesting read for anyone contemplating personal change or change in the working environment, or indeed life as a Change Agent.
The only minus with the book is the cheapness of the cover and paper. However, for less than £10 who can complain when the content makes the book a rivetting read.
In his Introduction, Deutschman explains that his main topic in this book is "how to change when change [begin italics] isn't [end italics] coming naturally: when the difficulties [begin italics] persist [end italics]. He identifies and then explains how to use three "keys" to release change from what James O'Toole has so aptly characterized (in Leading Change) as "the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of comfort." Deutschman calls these keys the "Three Rs": Relate (i.e. "Your form a new, emotional relationship with a person or community that inspires and sustains hope"), Repeat (i.e. "The new relationship helps you learn, practice, and master the new habits and skills that you need"), and Reframe (i.e. "The new relationship helps you learn new ways of thinking about your situation and your life"). Of special interest and value to me is Deutschman's brilliant use of case study material that focuses on how people in three quite different categories - heart patients, criminals, and workers - eventually were able to achieve significant changes in how/what they thought, felt, and did. In each instance, there is a central figure who plays a prominent role.
Meet Dr. Dean Ornish whose story "is all about change on every level: how he changed his own life, how he's helped heart patients change their lives, and how he's been trying for three decades to change the health care system in the United States."
Meet Mimi Silbert (born in 1942) who founded the Delancey Foundation project in 1971 (it helps serves ex-felons, prostitutes, substance abusers, homeless, and others who have hit bottom) after teaching criminology as a university professor and working as a consultant to state prisons and more than 50 police departments. Deutschman tells us Silbert (born in 1942) "exudes energy and laughs uproariously every few moments. Through two hours of conversation, she only rarely mentioned any terms that you might hear in an academic course or read in a psychology book," although she earned two PhDs.
Meet GM's plan in Fremont, California, at which labor relations had become so bad that it was closed in 1982. At that time, the local union was fighting more than 600 unresolved grievances, including more than 60 contested firings. Two years later, Toyota decided to revive the operation and forged a joint venture with GM, New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc. (NUMMI), and retained a former U.S. secretary of labor, William Usery, as its consultant for labor relations in the U.S. He told a reporter, "Commies and drug addicts, gambling, fighting, refusing to work - that was Toyota's idea of a unionized American work force."
The changes that were achieved within all three groups - heart patients, criminals, and workers - are best revealed within Deutschman's narrative, in context. Suffice to say now that the success of various changes depended on leadership provided by Dean Ornish, Mimi Silbert, and the SUMMI managers who understood how to relate to those in need of change, repeat as often as necessary whatever the desirable behavior may be, and meanwhile, reframe the values, attitudes, and perspectives so thoughts, feelings, and behavior will focus on "what matters most."
When concluding this book, Deutschman notes that Ornish discovered that heart patients weren't motivated by the idea that they could live to eighty-six if they changed, not even if they were eighty-five. ""They're motivated by knowing that they can enjoy and improve their lives [begin italics] right now [end italics]. That's the idea that I've tried to convey. I'm not advocating change because it can make your life or your organization better at some distant time in the future. I believe that engaging with people and learning new skills and ideas are among the greatest pleasures of [begin italics] everyday [end italics] life...So, kind reader, that's my parting wish for you: Change and [begin italics] thrive [end italics]!"
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
“people don’t resist change, they resist being changed”
I have experienced this on both sides, as a coach trying to help others benefit from change and I have also deflected others efforts when they have tried to teach me something that may have helped me. By putting up my “self defense” mechanisms and reverting back to old habits and ways of doing things that were comfortable or by seeing the ways others input could benefit my opportunities.
I had a couple of problems, one with the stereotypes the author generated around people born into 3rd generation poverty and two with some of the generalizations in the book which made me question a couple of his points and /or statistics (I want to do some follow up research on my questions to help answer them) but this didn’t stop me from enjoying the book and getting the message as well as the lessons I can use to help myself and people I interact with.
I judge a book on if it's able to accomplish what it sets out to do. If it does at least that I'll give it 4 stars. If I feel the author went above and beyond the tour of duty to get his point across, I'll give it 5. That being said, this book is a solid 4, 4 still being very good.
Did this book get the point across that if you don't change you'll die? Actually, yes. The author uses several well-laid out case examples from heart patients to career criminals to demonstrate why change is so important; he also retells his own personal "change or die" story, which lets you know that he doesn't just talk the talk, he also walks the walk. Even though you may not be able to relate to all the people in the book (I am neither a criminal nor a heart patient), he brings their stories close down to a personal level and then details how they each used some version of the 3-steps to change (Relate, Repeat, Reframe) to bring their life and outlook to a new, positive level.
The case studies (stories really), the application of the 3-steps, and the simplicity are really the strong points of the book. I'm not sure if Mr. Deutschman is a psychiatrist or not, but the writing style came across as very down-to-earth and easy to read. It wasn't bogged down in any psycho babble, just 3 steps and how different people applied them to their lives, and the lives of others to change. That's it. Unlike other books covering the topics of change or psychology, it doesn't get cheesy or sugar-coated or cliched, and I was glad for it. This may also be a weakness of the book, since it really wasn't inspirational nor used "go-get-'em" language. That's not say it isn't, it is inspirational in its own way because you get to see how change is possible for even the most ordinary or hopeless situations. But I feel the author could have used a little more enthusiasm in his writing, that's a very minor quibble though.
Another small issue i have with the book, which is purely subjective, is that I wish the author spent a little more time on personal change, or at least gave more examples. There were perhaps 25-30 pages on personal change, and I bought this book expecting more of that. HOwever, I know this book was meant for the topic of change on a personal, corporate, and organizational levels so the author really did cover what he wanted. Hopefully, in the future he'll come out with a follow up dealing solely with the topic of personal change.
Overall, if you are interested in changing yourself, your company, or group, this is a solid book. You can read it in a few days, and not feel overwhelmed with complex psycholiteral language. Instead, there's a lot to learn from the many stories and cases presented here. You really will learn how the 3-steps to change (Relate, Repeat, Reframe) are applied, but it is still up to you to use them.
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