Change Anything: A book review by Bob Morris

Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success
Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler
BusinessPlus/Hatchette Book Gtoup (2011)

The co-authors (Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler) have probably been collaborating on the core concepts, values, and principles of what they characterize as “the new science of personal success” since before their first book, Crucial Conversations, was published in 2002. They then co-authored Crucial Confrontations (2004), Influencer (20o7), and now Change Anything. Each of these books is a brilliant achievement on its own merits but I highly recommend that all four be read.

In this, their latest collaboration, they develop in much greater depth six concepts of influence that operate in pairs within three separate but interdependent domains: personal motivation and personal mobility, social motivation and social ability, and structural motivation and structural ability. As I read Part I in which the six influences are introduced, I thought about the life and career of Mohandas Gandhi who achieved specific goals in all three domains: his own development as a leader, creating a critical mass of support for the non-violent campaign to achieve independence for India, and the structural transformation of the British Commonwealth.

The co-authors rigorously examine each of the six influences in Part II and explain how to
Disarm impulses and make the right choices pleasurable
Obtain the knowledge and develop the skills needed to be a change agent
Turn negative “accomplices” (i.e. enablers of negativism) into positive co-creators
Devise incentives/rewards/punishments to increase desirable behavior
Create an environment within which to nourish and support positive change

Then in Part III, the co-authors explain how those who have become “Skillful Changers” can get unstuck at work, lose weight and get fit (and stay that way), get (and remain) out of debt, “take back” their lives, and improve their relationships with others by making necessary changes in themselves.

Here are my takeaways from this book.

1. To paraphrase Henry Ford, “Whether you think this book can or can’t help you to make the changes that you want to make in your life, you’re probably right.”

2. The “new science of personal success” offers order and structure to change initiatives” but it does not – because it cannot – provide an express lane to your personal growth and professional development. How determined are you to develop the skills needed?

3. Willpower is not enough, however. It is imperative to recognize, understand, and then manage the six sources of influence on individual judgment (yours and each other person’s) and on groups of individuals.

4. With all due respect to the “new science of personal success,” I think it should be said that much of what Patterson, Grenny, Maxfield, McMillan, and Switzler recommend in this book – and in the others they’re written together – is simply good (if not always common) sense. For example, cultivate positive thoughts and feelings by eliminating all sources of negativism in your life, human or otherwise.

I doubt if those who read this book will be able to change everything. However, I am certain that the knowledge they receive from Patterson, Grenny, Maxfield, McMillan, and Switzler will prepare them well to make better decisions, to accomplish more when acting upon those decisions, and meanwhile, to become happier and healthier in all areas of their lives.


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  1. rohit on June 1, 2011 at 10:16 am

    An enjoyable read Change Anything by Kerry Patterson . loved the way you wrote it. I find your review very genuine and original, this book is going in by “to read” list.

  2. Awesome Book Store on June 14, 2011 at 7:27 pm

    It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

  3. bobmorris on June 14, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    Thank you. Your opinions are very important to me and I welcome an opportunity to share them. Best regards.

  4. Barry W. Chambers on September 9, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    In your Number Two (2)Takeaway…..i think you mean “skills” not kills……but it’s funny the way it is… up to you whether you want to change it ! I’ve only read thru page 20. I understand the concepts. But i’m not a believer yet. I want to finish reading. Then try. Then say if it’s BS or the real stuff !

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