TOP 500 REVIEWERon 11 August 2008
Esther Cameron and Mike Green's objective is to help their reader understand "why change happens, how change happens, and what needs to be done to make change a more welcoming concept" by carefully reviewing a wealth of resources that provide models, tools, and techniques of organizational change. Their purpose is not to explain how to plan and then implement a change initiative program. Those in need of guidance to do that should seek it elsewhere. (My suggestions would include James O'Toole's Leading Change and John Kotter's book of the same title as well as William Bridges' two books, Transitions and Managing Transitions.) Presumably Cameron and Green would be among the first to agree that it would be a fool's errand for a reader to adopt all of the information and counsel provided in this book when formulating and then implementing any change initiatives. Rather, each reader would be well-advised to absorb and digest the material and then select only what is most relevant to her or his own organization's specific needs, interests, objectives, and resources.
The material in this volume is carefully organized within two Parts:
The Underpinning Theory (Chapters 1-4): "Individual change is at the heart of everything that is achieved in organizations. Once individuals have the motivation to do something different, the whole world can begin to change...[Individuals] are to some extent governed by the norms of the groups they belong to, and groups are bound together in a whole system of groups of people that interconnect in various habitual ways. So the story is not always that simple. Individuals, teams, and organizations all play a part in the process of change, and leaders have a particularly onerous responsibility: that is, making all this happen."
The Applications (Chapters 5-8): In this Part, having looked at change and change management from three different perspectives (i.e. individual, team, and organization) and the roles, styles, and skills needed to become a successful leader of change, Cameron and Green apply this learning to specific types of change. "We have identified four generic change scenarios, and we look at the particular management challenges involved in initiating and implementing each type of change." These change scenarios are structural, mergers and acquisitions, cultural, and IT-based process.
One of Cameron and Green's most valuable devices is a graphic consolidation of key points that is inserted throughout their narrative. Each facilitates, indeed expedites frequent review later. For example:
Theory X and Theory Y Assumptions (Table 1.2, Page 19)
Myers Briggs Type Indicator types or MBTI (Table1.5, Page 45)
Teams going through change (Table 2.6, Pages 80-81)
Our conclusions about each model of change (Table 3.3, Pages 119-120)
Note: This last Table summarizes key points re that include Kurt Lewin (three-step model), R.J. Bullock and D. Batten (planned change), John Kotter (eight steps), R.F. Beckhard and R.T. Harris (change formula), David Nadler and B. Tushman (congruence model), William Bridges (managing the transition), Colin Carnall (change management model), and Peter Senge (systemic model).
Addressing team change during restructuring (Table 5.4, Pages 190-191)
Note: This "Forming" and "Storming" graphic correlates task (orientation), people (dependency), task (organizational), and people (conflict) within these categories: team purpose, team roles, team processes, tem relations, inter-term relations, MBTI, Key Belbin roles, and organizational focus.
In the concluding chapter, Cameron and Green share two "significant messages" that were ringing in their ears as the ink begins to dry on this book. "The first message we want to convey is about the importance of leaders being awake and aware. The notion of peripheral vision is a key one to keep in mind. Leaders need to wake up to what is going on around them. This means noticing the more than the obvious, the loud or directly visible. It means having an awareness of what is going on at the edges, and being observant about motion and change. Whichever assumptions a leader employs about the nature of change (machine, political system, organism or flux and transformation) there is a need to be extremely observant about what is going on in and around the organization...The second message is about the importance of reflection time. Leaders benefit greatly from taking regular, focused time to reflect on what is going on around them (the fruits of their peripheral vision), what is happening right now, what the options are and they are personally in all this. Their organizations benefit too because leadership action is considered, rather than knee-jerk."
Earlier, I suggested that Cameron and Green's objective is to help their reader understand "why change happens, how change happens, and what needs to be done to make change a more welcoming concept" by carefully reviewing a wealth of resources that provide models, tools, and techniques of organizational change. That is, theirs is a "what to think about" book, not a "how to do it" book. They focus their reader's attention on a wealth of options (e.g. theories and models), resources (e.g. MBTI), focal points (i.e. individual change, team change, organizational change or a combination thereof), and references (Pages 270-275) to consider. Those who absorb and digest the material with appropriate care will also receive at least some assistance from Cameron and Green when designing and then launching change initiatives that are most appropriate to the needs, interest, resources, and objectives of their own organization.
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Those who share my regard for this book are urged to check out the aforementioned books of the same title (Leading Change) by O'Toole and Kotter as well as Edgar H. Schein's Organizational Culture and Leadership, and Michael Beitler's Strategic Organizational Change, (Second Edition). Also Sarah Cook's The Essential Guide to Employee Engagement: Better Business Performance through Staff Satisfaction, Richard H. Axelrod's Terms of Engagement: Changing the Way We Change Organizations, Michael L. Stallard's Fired Up or Burned Out: How to Reignite Your Team's Passion, Creativity, and Productivity, Dean Spitzer's Transforming Performance Measurement: Rethinking the Way We Measure and Drive Organizational Success, and Enterprise Architecture as Strategy: Creating a Foundation for Business Execution co-authored by Jeanne W. Ross, Peter Weill, and David Robertson.