The Eight Constants of Change may seem like an oxymoronic title to some, but in my experience there are many common issues that need to be managed during any transformational change project, including the perennial key issue of conflict. This is because there can’t be any progress without any conflict. Stacy Aaron & Kate Nelson’s neat little book, in my view, is probably not aimed at skilled and experienced change practitioners. It does, however, provide useful a bird’s eye view of the issues senior managers need to be aware of when planning an implementing change.
The 120 pages or so pages comprising this book contain many useful suggestions, anecdotes and templates to help those sponsoring and/or responsible for change:
- quality assure their change plans and change interventions for completeness;
- inform their tentative ideas about how to improve the chances of their changes sticking (i.e. actually working and getting embedded in their organisations);
- arm readers who may be new to change with a broader understanding of strategic change issues and help inform their thinking when looking to appoint a change team, including external advisers.
This book is easy to read and includes many examples and ‘war stories’ that illustrate the change issues (i.e. the Eight Constants) identified by its authors, including why:
- organisations change only when their people change
- resistance to change is inevitable
- hanging on to the past hinders change
- building commitment to change means connecting to the heads and hearts of the stakeholders of the change
- change leaders must seen to ‘walk the talk’
- lots of quality communication is essential if change is going to be effective
- people support what the helped to create
- support and reinforcement help make change more sustainable.
While the book does not debate the concept of building organisational capacity make and sustain change overtly, it does so indirectly by focussing on the issues that must be resolved in order to optimise the chances of a planned change sticking and delivering business benefits.
In my view, anyone expecting this book to show them how to plan a detailed change programme may be disappointed because it is not a programme and/or project management toolkit. Nor is it a tome that seeks to draw on and codify academic research. What the book is is a practical toolkit for dealing with common issues that need to be addressed in any change programme from a senior management perspective.
What The Eight Constants of Change also does well is provide practical suggestions technology and market agnostic on what should comprise change programme/plan, i.e. a list of the components of change plan, and furnish a range of toolkits that can be used and or adapted to help delivering any change project.
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