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Immunity to Change: How to Overcome It and Unlock the Potential in Yourself and Your Organization (Leadership for the Common Good) Kindle Edition

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Length: 340 pages Word Wise: Enabled

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Editorial Reviews


...brilliant insights into the mysteries of the change process at the heart of personal and organizational success...Any leader seriously interested in developing new strengths in others-and in oneself-needs to read this book. --Daniel Goleman, author, Emotional Intelligence

Immunity to Change is a wonderfully original approach to a familiar problem: why many crucial change efforts fail. It shows how the core problems of resistance to change stem from the critical gaps between what is required and a leader's own level of development. I know of no book that does a better job of helping leaders understand the commitment to change and how to put it into practice. --Peter Senge, author, The Fifth Discipline, and coauthor, The Necessary Revolution

Not being able to change doesn't mean we're lazy, stubborn, or weak. A pair of Harvard educators (Lahey and Kegan) argue that our best-laid plans often fall through for smart, self-protective (and ingeniously
hidden) reasons. --O Magazine, December 2008

About the Author

Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey , coauthors of How the Way We Talk Can Change the Way We Work, have been research and practice collaborators for twenty-five years. Kegan is the William and Miriam Meehan Professor in Adult Learning and Professional Development at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education. Lahey is the Associate Director of Harvard's Change Leadership Group and a founding principal of Minds at Work, a leadership-learning professional services firm.

Product Details

  • File Size: 3551 KB
  • Print Length: 340 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press; 1 edition (February 15, 2009)
  • Publication Date: February 15, 2009
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004OEILH2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #52,886 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

87 of 90 people found the following review helpful By The Ginger Man VINE VOICE on February 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Not simply a book about organizational transformation, Immunity to Change is a challenging analysis of how our well-developed methods of processing information and experience become barriers that hinder our attempts to achieve adaptive change. The first section of the book describes the theory and can be pretty tough going. The second applies the theory to case studies of organization change. The last is a primer on how to detect and overcome change immunity in your own organization.

At the risk of being overly reductive, I will try to summarize the theory.
People deal with fear and anxiety as a normal part of life. They don't feel this fear most of the time because they have created effective internal anxiety management systems. Those frameworks for evaluating experience are beneficial and necessary but can also form a hidden barrier to the desire to achieve adaptive change. The development of a more complex mental framework (the "self-transforming mind") help the individual recognize the filtering effect and limitations of his/her own frame of reference. This recognition will allow the individual to begin to negate the effects of an internally imposed change immunity.

Looked at this way, any change which is adaptive rather than technical will, as a matter of course, put at risk "a way of knowing the world that also serves as a way of managing a persistent, fundemental anxiety." The authors argue that we can only succeed with adaptive changes by recognizing the seriousness of the internal challenge we face. The desired change can put at risk "what has been a very well-functioning way of taking care of ourselves.
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51 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Robert Goodman on February 27, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I write this review from the perspective of an Executive Coach who has been practicing for 15 years and who has used this methodology with executives/leaders over the past three years. I can vouch that it works, not only with individual leaders but in a team development context as well. Working well means that individuals have changed behaviors; in the case of the team, that it learned to overcome difficult communication challenges resulting in a measured increase in trust among its members.

In clear language, Kegan and Lahey lay out a step by step methodology that facilitates a person's conscious understanding of his or her intentions, aspirations and goals to an identification of hidden "competing commitments", which may unintentionally hinder reaching these goals. The articulation of these competing commitments ultimately lead to an uncovering of the assumptions, beliefs and systems of meaning which can then be critically evaluated for their ability to promote or hinder success in the achievement of the goals and aspirations that anchor the process.

Their methodology helps people to reflect on themselves and their competing committments in a clear way. As an Executive Coach, I have repeatedly observed that leaders are limited most significantly by their inability to not only take the time to reflect but to know how best to use this reflection space. I also appreciate the fact that Lahey and Kegan link their methodology to a theory of development,demonstrating the process of increasing complexity of mind. This important link between practice and theory moves the user from an increase in self awareness (a very important step) to a broadening of how the leader thinks and acts.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By William McPeck on March 26, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a worksite wellness specialist, I am constantly reminded of how difficult sustained behavior change can be. Despite strong desire and sincere commitment, most people fail in their attempt to permanently change their behavior. This book offers an explanation as to why.

According to Kegan and Lahey, behavior change consists of two types: technical and adaptive. Technical behavior change involves the acquisition of new knowledge and/or skills which are then applied to achieving the new desired behavior. The necessary knowledge and skill are usually easily identified and straight forward in nature.

Most behavior change, however, also involves an adaptive element within the mind. This adaptive element requires a change in mindset, in addition to the acquisition of new knowledge and skills. Our mindset is made up of feelings, anxieties and motivations based on unconscious assumptions that can and often do result in equally strong desires and commitments not to change. The mindset is driven by "big assumptions" which create an immunity to change. Our mindset often sees our attempts at behavior change as being "life threatening."

This book lays out a theory and framework for how individuals and organizations can identify and change their mindsets and their underlying supportive assumptions.

The book is divided into three sections. The first lays out the underlying theory and change framework. Chapter 1 is especially tough reading, so don't get frustrated, discouraged or bogged down in it. The rest of the book is better. Section two is about case examples which serve as good illustrations of the theory and framework. You can gain an understanding from the cases that will help you to make sense of what you read in Chapter 1.
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