Leading Transformation: A book review by Bob Morris

Leading Transformation: How to Take Charge of Your Company’s Future
Nathan Furr, Kyle Nel, and Thomas Zoëga Ramsøy
Harvard Business Review Press (November 2018)

How to use a human-centered process to avoid or overcome key bottlenecks to organizational change

In Leading Change, James O’Toole suggests that the strongerst resistance to organizational change is cultural in nature, the result of whst her so aptly characterizes as “the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom.”

According to Nathan Furr, Kyle Nel, and Thomas Zoëga Ramsøy, their book introduces “a radical new method for doing just that — for driving the kind of change [achieved by  Google, IKEA, Lowe’s, Microsoft, Pepsi, the United Nations, and XPRIZE] and for addressing the real, human challenges of change…Our goal with this book is to describe the transformational process and tools that worked for us and for leaders at many organizations around the world…We hope to provide you with a road map for leading transformation in  your company [and thereby gain] a new perspective, a new process, and a new, if not even a bit unusual set of tools for leading transformation.”

Years ago I asked John Kotter what is most difficult to change? “Getting people to change how they think about change.” Presumably Furr, Nel, and Ramsøy agree with Kotter. The “radical approach” to which I referred earlier consists of several separate but interdependent initiatives. Furr, Nel, and Ramsøy explain HOW to

o Use science fiction and strategic narratives to create a compelling story that envisions the future
o Use decision maps and archetypes to break through bottlenecks
o Develop leadership at all levels and in all areas of a self-transforming organization
o Develop and implement new approaches to the VUCA business world

They also include three insightful appendices: “Leading Transformation in Your Own Life,” “Our Origin Stories,” and a delightful “bonus” section, “A Summary of the Book Presented as a Graphic Novel.”

These are among the dozens of passages that caught my eye, also listed to indicate the scope of Furr, Nel, and Ramsøy’s coverage:

o How Did Lowe’s Transform? (Pages 4-12)
o The Transformation Process: The Three Steps to Take Charge of Your Company’s Future (12-17)
o How to Use Strategic Narrative (44-46)
o Master Class: The Dangers of Setting and Revising Expectations with Narratives (46-49)

o Great Stories Are Told Through the Eyes of One Person (47)
o Master Class: How to Gert Users to Accept Something Really Outlandish (55 & 57)
o The Need: New Tools to Break through Habit and Routine (61-64)
o The Process: How to Break Bottlenecks Using Decision Maps (64-68)

o How to Use Functional Archetypes (81-83)
o Table 3-3, Key functional archetypes (84-85)
o Master Class: Neuroscience, Archetypes, and the Real World (86-87)
o Master Class: Modifying the Narrative When Something Big Changes (113-114)

o Tool: Applied Neuroscience (120-125)
o Master Class: Other Ways to Apply (128-132)
o Negative Capability (141-143)
o Accelerator Skill Sets (148-150)

o Results First (155-158)
o The Three Noes (158-160)
o The Behavioral Innovation Opportunity (168-172)
o Seeing Possibilities That Lie in Plain Sight (175-177)

Obviously, no brief commentary such as mine can do full justice to the value of this book but I hope I have at least indicated why I think so highly of the information, insights, and counsel that Nathan Furr, Kyle Nel, and Thomas Zoëga Ramsøy provide. They will continue to help as many people as possible to achieve breakthrough change, not only within their organizations but also within themselves. I commend them on their efforts. Bravo!


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