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Getting Change Right: How Leaders Transform Organizations from the Inside Out Hardcover – May 17, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

"Calling on expertise and insight honed by years of top-tier management consulting and thought leadership, (Kahan) writes with warm savvy and a rare technical expertise that informs leaders on how they can strategically and logistically enact change the first time around." -from the Foreword by Bill George

Change doesn't flow top down, bottom up, or sideways, but inside out. Real change happens only when people want it to happen, when they feel engaged. Without engagement, you are left with two alternatives: force and failure.

In Getting Change Right, Seth Kahan challenges you to approach change in a whole new way. Based on years of experience with organizations around the world, Kahan presents a new model of leadership communication-one that moves from top-down dictums to the collaborative construction of shared understanding.

Filled with techniques, templates, and guidelines, Getting Change Right is, first and foremost, a practitioner's guide to implementing change. Presenting a critical shift from the old mind-set of coming up with a good idea and then pushing it through with mandates, Kahan shows how the way to successful, authentic change is through engagement-the need to connect to people, to listen as much as to share ideas, and to involve as many key people as possible in the realization of their goals. When the right people are having the right conversations and interactions, they act in concert, even when the situations they confront are unpredictable.

This hands-on guide offers sample dialogues, questions, assessments, and all-new "Expert Input" from leading change authorities John Kotter, Stephen Denning, and James Wolfensohn, among others.

Getting Change Right goes beyond mere suppositions and hypotheses. It offers business insights and field-tested, practical techniques that you can put to work immediately. This is your guidebook to making change happen in any organization.

From the Back Cover

Praise for Getting Change Right

"What an exciting read! Every page explodes with cutting-edge ideas, practical advice, and the wisdom of experience. Today, so many speak about fear of our rapidly changing conditions. However, as Seth Kahan convincingly demonstrates, by harnessing the power of collaborative relationships, positive transformation is possible everywhere. And he shows us the way!" -Kenneth J. Gergen, president, the Taos Institute and author, Relational Being

"Organizations recognize the need for change and the relative speed and accuracy that is required for effective execution. The challenge is 'how' to do it. People are the secret ingredient and Seth Kahan clearly offers the path to get you there. This is a must-read 'NOW' for any leader or organization looking to make bold moves in order to stay competitive." -George A. Castineiras, senior vice president, Prudential Financial, Inc.

"Break through the standard paraphernalia of most change programs-budgets, mandates, plans, PowerPoint, top-down directives, and roll-out. Getting Change Right reveals how big change happens fast by engaging with people and creating conversations that cascade through the organization, igniting widespread energy and enthusiasm." -Stephen Denning, author, The Leader's Guide to Storytelling and The SecretLanguage of Leadership

"In Getting Change Right, Seth Kahn provides practical advice supported by real-life examples that every leader can use to lead effective change. Seth emphasizes that people, their diverse viewpoints, and their relationships and connections are the real keys to successful change. All leaders transforming their industries and professions can benefit from keeping these important tenets in mind." -Chris McEntee, CEO, American Institute of Architects

"Seth Kahan delivers that rare blend of wisdom and practicality in an engaging and entertaining read that is at once both blueprint and playbook. If Getting Change Right isn't in your arsenal, odds are you'll get change wrong." -Matthew E. May, author, In Pursuit of Elegance and The Elegant Solution


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (May 17, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470550481
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470550489
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,279,861 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Seth Kahan's book, Getting Change Right, was a Washington Post bestseller, a Denver Post bestseller, and named on American Express Open Forum as one of the Top 20 Business Books. Seth's latest book, Getting Innovation Right, is a companion volume that focuses on the seven activities necessary to consistently, successfully introduce new products and services in the market.

Seth is a change leadership expert who consults for CEOs and senior leaders. His client list includes World Bank, Shell, NASA, Prudential Retirement, Peace Corps, CIA, American College of Cardiology, National Apartment Association, and Project Management Institute, and over 100 others. He is the author of Fast Company's expert blog, Leading Change (

Kahan received the designation Visionary by the Center for Association Leadership. The Society for the Advancement of Consulting has recognized him as a Thought-leader and Exemplar in the field of Change Leadership. Seth is an associate of the Taos Institute.

Seth's website is He writes a weekly newsletter, Monday Morning Mojo.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
One of this book's greatest strengths is Seth Kahan's unique ability to focus on the most important "whats" of change initiatives and then explain with both precision and eloquence how to do what must be done to ensure the success of those initiatives. He draws upon a wealth of real-world experience from which he learned a number of valuable lessons. He cites seven in the Introduction to this book, then devotes a separate chapter to each:

1. Communicate so that people get it and spread it.
Comment: Kahan correctly begins with this basic rule because all change initiatives require cooperation and collaboration, both of which depend on constant and effective communication between and among those involved.

2. Energize your most valuable players.
Comment: You already know who they are, the ones you dread losing to illness, retirement, spouse relocation, or (worst of all) to a competitor. The best way to energize them is to recognize them: make them feel appreciated.

3. Understand the territory of change.
Comment: Many (most?) of the barriers to change are cultural, the result of what James O'Toole (in Leading Change) aptly characterizes as "the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom." Kahan explains how to create a "map" of what is certain to be perilous "territory."

4. Accelerate change through communities that perform.
Comment: Kahan calls them "thematic groups." Seth Godin calls them "tribes." However described, their members share a common vision and passion to make that vision a reality by creating "systemic pull."

5. Generate dramatic surges in progress
Comment: Kahan recommends special and frequent "face-to-face events" that attract and then energize the most valuable change agents.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Studious Reader on June 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wow! What a great reference and inspirational book for leading change. The writing is crisp and inspiring and the content is the perfect fit for the IT organizational change I'm leading. Our challenge is to get a lot of independent-minded and task-focused people to see how they can contribute to making things work better for everyone. The expert cameos are great. The stories of hands-on success are even better, providing a template for approaches that will really make a difference. This book is a must-read for change leaders!
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Format: Hardcover
"Getting Change Right," is a timely guide for leaders who need to "get it right the first time" if they are to have any hope of sustaining success in today's faster paced markets. Given the accelerating pace of change in these first decades of the 21st century, leaders can no longer rely upon hierarchical authority, top-down directives, or the mechanics of compliance to accomplish needed changes. According to Seth Kahan, the key to successfully managing at today's pace of change is "engagement." Successfully leading change means embracing the notion that workers are volunteers who must be partners in building a shared understanding about the work that needs to be done. Because shared understanding can't be mandated, leaders need to facilitate important conversations rather than present complete solutions when approaching their staffs. These conversations need to welcome diverse - even opposing - points of view for shared understanding to catch fire and achieve extraordinary performance.

This book shows business leaders how they can quickly and effectively transform their slow-moving hierarchical bureaucracies into efficient collaborative communities that continually delight customers and sustain consistent success in fast moving markets. Kahan outlines the seven lessons that collectively hold the key for engaging employees and getting change right. He provides practical techniques that leaders can immediately apply to catapult their performance. These include "Springboard Stories," which are real life examples that leaders can use to illustrate where a desired change has already taken place. "Touchstone Events" are gatherings that allow everyone to connect with what is essential to the work of change in a way that engenders powerful forward momentum.
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