The Science of Successful Organizational Change

The Science of Successful Organizational Change

This week Steven completes the re-read of Paul Gibbons’ book The Science of Successful Organizational Change. If you are involved in change (and everyone is) this book is a must read and a must re-read.  Next week we will feature a review of the graphic novel version of The Goal.  Steven’s final thoughts—

Final thoughts about Paul Gibbons “The Science of Successful Organizational Change”

A Great Reference

I found the quote on the cover to hold true.  “Place it on the bookshelf next to the Halo Effect, Switch, and The Fifth Discipline – in easy reach for rereading.”  Rolf Häsänen

You can use this book to get started with your own new initiatives.

Change Management (so much of the book covers this), but if you want to formulate a strategy to counter the resistance to change, turn to page 226 and re-read table 8.1 – A Holistic Model of Resistance to Change – to classify why people are resisting the change.

A word about Habitual change resistance – remember “Mind the Gap” – the gap between people wanting to change versus the difficulty in actually making the change (e.g., diets!)

You want to better learn from “Project Failures”, then turn to page 90 and use the SOCKS framework (table 3.2) to better understand the depth of “Project Failures” your organization is experiencing.

Or you want to articulate what Innovation really means for your organization, turn to page 56 (table 2.3) and use Goran Ekvall’s “Climate for Innovation” framework to help provide an assessment of the organization’s culture around innovation.

Back to Change Management, say you want to refresh your thinking about Change Strategy versus Change Tactics, so you do not get lost in the weeds or lost in the clouds, turn to page 73 (Table II. 1) for that refresher.

Better understand the important cognitive biases/fallacies the will likely effect decision making in a business organization, go to page 125 (table 5.1) and use the filter Gibbons provides.  Gibbons lists 15 biases to pay attention to, not the over 100 biases that have been researched and exposed.

Two Quotes to Ponder

There are two quotes from this book, I would like to think about further.  And perhaps in the form of questions to Tom Cagley, hoping Tom will take them up a future blog posting.

Quote #1

“The fundamental cause of trouble is that, in the modern world, the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.” – Bertrand Russell (p. 128)

This sounds like the Dunning–Kruger effect, which I recently heard about in a podcast – TWIT TRIANGULATION (#314) – where the author William Poundstone describes the Dunning-Kruger effect from his book “Head in the Cloud”.  Note:  this book covers much more than the Dunning-Kruger effect.

Quote #2

“Would you not rather be led by someone warm, than someone smart?” (page 289)

The interesting combinations here are “leaders that are (1) warm, but not smart” and (2) “not warm, but smart” – Gibbons chooses the latter and then uses Steve Jobs as the example of a “not warm, but smart” leader.

And I can imagine scenarios of both loving and hating working for someone like Steve Jobs.

Product success at all cost does not work for me.  Nor does a low-stress environment, where nothing seems to come together very well.  I guess that is why some people start their own businesses.


Don’t Forget to Scan the Bibliography

Paul Gibbons supplies a 9-page bibliography with several references with a small note about each one.  This Bibliography is an interesting read, so do not skip it.

Not surprising, the bibliography contains two book titles appearing in Tom’s next re-read poll.

  1. Kahneman – Thinking Fast and Slow
  2. Senge – The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization

Keep-up with Paul Gibbons at his website
Paul’s next book – “Truth Wars” (expected out, January 2018).


Thank You! 

Thank you, the reader, for following along with this re-read.  I hope you found Paul Gibbons “The Science of Successful Organizational Change” as useful read as I did and I hope you find this book a useful reference for your work and organization.

Thank you, Tom, for your edits and publishing this book in this re-read series!

And the immediate next question is for Tom – what is the next book for this fabulous re-read series?

Thank you, Steven!  It has been great to leave the driving to you for that past 13 weeks!  Next in the Re-read Series is  . . . .

Actionable Agile Metrics for Predictability: An Introduction by Daniel S. Vacanti (Author)


Get your copy and begin reading (or re-reading)!