“Fearless Change”: making new things work in an organization

Fearless Change is a book I must recommend to those that need to introduce new practices or change something in an organization.

Just for the sake of clarity, this means that this is not the kind of book that addresses how to overhaul the whole organization. That is the purpose of a different kind of book, such as Tribal Leadership.

Fearless change is an easy to read book (really!) with lots of practical advice, and it introduces a pattern language to help identify key techniques, practices, tools and even concepts that will be key to help introduce something new in an organization: some of those patterns are Corporate Angel, Test the Waters, Small Successes or Step by Step.

Those unfamiliar with patterns need not worry, the book is highly readable even if you don’t know a thing about patterns. Let that not deter you, read the book!

The book is aptly divided into several chapters that mostly follow the way new things are introduced in a company, addressing the relevant issues as they appear and not before.

The first chapter introduces you to the  change agent (you!), the importance of culture and how people position themselves with respect to novelty, from innovators to early adopters to those resisting change.

Chapter two explains what patterns are and why the book is written using them, but I must insist: the book is so clearly written that I almost felt that this is not needed.

From then on, the book moves through the different stages something new will move through as it spreads more and more. These chapters are as follows:

  • Where do I start? So, you want to introduce a new things. Then, you’ll need to be noticed. Here’s how.
  • What do I do next? They noticed you, and you’ve got confidence that it’s worth your time. Now, you’ll need to spark influential support.
  • Meeting and more: you will need to meet people, and that means meetings. How do you survive and even thrive in them?
  • Take action! Get started. Here and now!
  • It’s all about people. You need to address people needs, more so because you are all volunteers -yet.
  • A new role: now you are dedicated! Sooner or later, you will need to make this change thing part of your official job, and get traction with management and the organization at large. How? This chapter explains this.
  • Convince the masses. Just convincing 5% of the people (the innovators) of the benefits of change will not be enough: you need to convince early adopters, to begin with.
  • More influence strategies. Now that you are addressing a different target population (early adopters) you’ll need new techniques.
  • Keep it going. You still need to convince the remaining of the organization, and keep things going to avoid losing momentum.
  • Dealing with resistance: you are going to meet some resistance, sooner rather than later. This chapter is about not only overcoming it, but about making it work for you.

These chapters are just 30% of the book but, believe me, they will be enough. I mean it: you can stop reading the book here and get 90% of the benefit. This means that you can read the real meat in four to six hours, even less if you are not taking detailed notes. That’s good.

The remaining of the book is mostly filled with a detailed description of the patterns that will help you achieve the different chapter objectives. It is a (good) detailed reference, which you will want to have at hand when you have doubts about what every patterns isreally about.

All in all, Fearless Change is a great book, with well arranged advice. A must for those interested in introducing something new in an organization -without upsetting the organization or themselves.

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