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by Peter Block
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Book Reviews With a Twist
“Breaking Out of the Change Trap: A Practical Guide for Organizational Change” by Ron Rosenberg
“To achieve success in any change initiative, the degree and level of change must be geared to the level of readiness of the organization; if not, there is a mismatch and the initiative is destined to fail.”
The initial response one may have to the above quote and much of the text in this guide may be, "Well, duh!" The author does not present a litany of preachy, inspirational diatribes to motivate reluctant change agents to get off their individual, or collective, duffs and make "it" (whatever "it" is) happen. And, as Martha Stewart says, "That's a good thing."
Instead, Ron Rosenberg provides practical step-by-step guidance, over a dozen very useful worksheets, planning guides and focuses expert advice on analyzing, designing, implementing and/or evaluating any type of organizational change effort. The concepts, principles and procedures presented are not rocket science. But, rarely are they laid out as completely, clearly, concisely or with such helpful organization.
The Organizational Maturity Model alone is worth the price of the book and the time it will take to read it. It is obvious Rosenberg has used these tools and techniques to guide others out of "the change trap" and that he believes in their usefulness.
Been There, Done That, Got the T-Shirt: "Just as there are people with cholesterol levels over 300, blood pressure of 180/120 and enough stress to stop a train, there are organizations that are in the same waiting time bomb mode and do not even know it. Organizations frequently dismiss high attrition, illness and other similar conditions as simply characteristic of our particular industry when these may, in fact be early warning signs of impending problems."
Idea I'd Make Into a Bumper Sticker: "With accurate diagnosis, the solution is easy!"
Favorite Quote: "It is important to remember that organizations are dynamic, living systems. They change over time based on what happens to them, within them and around them."
If You Really Want to Help: "It is possible to virtually empower yourself to make change happen. In fact, most people have potentially more freedom and authority than they think they do to accomplish their work objectives."
Take This With You: "Mismatching an organization's level of readiness to its approach to implementing change can set the organization back even more than if nothing at all had been done!"
Busy managers, facilitators, executives and/or team members will find that "Breaking Out of the Change Trap: A Practical Guide for Organizational Change" is an easy read—you can read the book cover-to-cover in less than an hour. But, it is just that ease of use that is its best feature. The format of the book encourages one to take action. It quite literally walks you through the process anticipating and providing responses to lots of "roadblocks" and, "Yeah, but..." barriers one may face. If you actually complete the worksheets, you will have a well-documented plan for both selling AND implementing your change initiative. Some sources say seven out of 10 organizational change efforts fail. Using this book will definitely increase your odds of success.
Reviewed by Jerry Linnins, chief, Performance Improvement Schools U.S. Coast Guard Training Center, Petaluma, Calif.