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  • Gilbert Kruidenier

Reconsidering Change Management

“Reconsidering Change Management” eats management books for breakfast, lunch AND dinner. It kicks @$$ and takes names, but in a very polite and often funny scientific way.

It’s not (meant to be) an easy read and the irony of a book about change advisory practices by a change consultancy is not lost on the authors too. But someone had to say the things they said and you need to read them if you’re even halfway serious about working in Change.

Working your way through its 8 chapters takes about 8 hours of your time. Twelve if you follow all the references and probably 50 if you go away and read all the highly recommended reading. Or you could read chapter 1, 3 and 8 and get the gist, but you’d miss out on the pointed analysis and evisceration of 18 axioms (statement considered to be true) in change management.

Statement: '70% of change fails'-Evidence: none - Conclusion: Very unlikely. You can almost hear the collective gasps of 'experts' while they scramble to start up the smoke and mirrors machine. If this book doesn’t change your mind even a bit, you should probably read it again.

Turns out that nearly all the famous assumed truths in change management are not quite as solid as we might have been led to believe and less than half are likely-ish to hold up at all. The author team’s systematic review of each claim, the quality of the evidence for it and its level of truthfulness is sobering to say the least. Then again, it will give you all the supporting facts you need to have more productive and effective conversations about change management and what it can realistically accomplish.

This book will make you curious and curiouser, smarter and a better adviser in more ways than one. By the time you hit the final page, you’ll have absorbed their scientific method of digging for facts, evidence, data and facts. If nothing else, it reaffirmed my belief a lot of the ‘truths about change’ don ‘t make much sense and that we should question everything and ask for evidence.

In Carl Sagan’s words: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”.

It’s about time we start asking for that evidence when we hear things that simply sound too good to be true and review our own content and writings to check if they crept in when we weren't looking.

A word of caution from a self-professed soapbox prophet who has been fighting the status quo windmills for a while; be prepared for some funny looks, scoffing and snickers (not the candy bar) when you claim that ‘it’s a bit more complicated than that’. These axioms are so pervasive that challenging them will sound outlandish to most leaders. But the smart ones will pay attention and be better for it.

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