- Series: Leadership for the Common Good
- Hardcover: 288 pages
- Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press; 1 edition (March 1, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1578517095
- ISBN-13: 978-1578517091
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 59 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #239,736 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Changing Minds: The Art and Science of Changing Our Own and Other People's Minds Hardcover – March 1, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
Gardner, a psychologist and professor at Harvard, examines the factors involved in changing minds on significant issues, in politics, science, business and art. He identifies seven key elements, including reason, research and real world events, that are part of the decision-making process. Certain facets are more heavily weighted in some fields than others: "leaders of large groups often rely on the appreciable resources at their disposal but are buoyed or undercut by real world events," says Gardner (Frames of Mind), who believes this explains why a politician or a CEO will disregard advice in the face of larger issues and popular perceptions. To prove his theories, Gardner analyzes the behavior of several individuals including President Bush, Britain's Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair, and South Africa's Nelson Mandela. Gardner doesn't limit his examination to politicians because he also believes that artists, writers, musicians and teachers can change people's minds. While the discussions and real-life examples are intriguing and do clarify Gardner's theories, the book doesn't fully deliver on its promise. Although Gardner does offer suggestions on how someone can influence others, he doesn't include a detailed prescriptive strategy for decision makers in the business world. Readers must draw out insights on their own, which, given the complexity of the material, may be difficult.
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"This quick, enjoyable read outlines Gardner's research and thinking on how best to convince others (or yourself)." -- CIO Magazine, April 1, 2004
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The problem is that we get only the vaguest of answers to these questions. As I like to say, the best psychology tells us most of the things we already knew (but may not have known we knew). This book follows suit. It might explain which of the seven "factors" (listed by the reviewer below) plays a part in different mind changing situations, but hardly eluminates beyond that.
For instance, in a chapter devoted to how politicians try and change our minds, we hear about Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan (both iconoclasts who were successful in the end at mind changing). The explanation to their success in mind changin is that they were able to tell their story, their nation's story, and a vision for the country's future, in different conceptual language than their opponents (and convine us that their own story was better. That answer seems quite right, but I was hoping it would be followed by examples of how they did this - how they told stories different from their opponents, while gradually winning acceptance for them. Gardner hardly gives any.
Much of the book is like this. After he explains the general principles utilized in one situation, he doesn't bolster it with detail and example, but simply moves on to the next situation.
What it all makes for is a somewhat (somewhat!) interesting, but hardly revealing, book.
This book and its ideas were pivotal to me in learning about change, in people and in organizations.