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Fearless Change: Patterns for Introducing New Ideas Hardcover – September 4, 2004
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From the Inside Flap
...there is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle, than to initiate a new order of things. For the reformer has enemies in all those who profit by the old order, and only lukewarm defenders in all those who would profit by the new order, this lukewarmness arising partly from fear of their adversaries...and partly from the incredulity of mankind, who do not truly believe in anything new until they have had actual experience of it.
—Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince
You miss one hundred percent of the shots you never take.
—Wayne Gretzky, Hall of Fame hockey player
Since you picked up this book, we assume that you've tried to introduce something new into your organization. Maybe you were successful or maybe you were not completely happy with the result. Change is hard. Wouldn't it be wonderful if all the people, just like you, those "powerless leaders," who have had some success in their attempts to introduce a new idea, could sit down with you and share their secrets? This book will provide the next best thing. We've gathered strategies from those successful people so you can take advantage of their experience.
We've been working on introducing new ideas into the workplace for some time. Mary Lynn Manns is a professor at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, whose recent doctoral work concerned this topic. Linda Rising is an independent consultant who has experience introducing new ideas both in academia and industry. Together with all the others who have shared their experiences with us, we have many years of documented successes.
Each technique or strategy we have collected is written as a pattern—a form of knowledge management for capturing a recurring, successful practice. The patterns in this book are the result of years of documenting our observations, hearing from people who have introduced new ideas, reading a variety of views on the topics of change and influence, studying how change agents throughout history have tackled the problems they faced, and sharing our work for comments and feedback. This book, the final product, does not simply reflect our ideas but includes those of many different people in many different organizations throughout the world. Expert change leaders are likely to say "I do that!" when they read many of these techniques. We will take this comment as a tribute to our work because our goal was to identify tried and true practices, not just a collection of good ideas that may or may not work.
The idea of documenting patterns for successful solutions to recurring problems was introduced by a building architect named Christopher Alexander. Even though we are not architects, a number of us in the software development community have adopted Alexander's approach as a way to capture known solutions for software architecture, software design, testing, customer interaction, and other aspects of software development. The introduction of new ideas is, of course, not limited to the software area, but it's where we both began to see a new source for important and useful patterns.
We intend this book for business practitioners rather than academic scholars, so we have chosen not to cite sources inside the text. However, we are always happy to answer any questions about the specific sources and the patterns. This work is built on research, including that of Robert Cialdini, Malcolm Gladwell, Geoffrey Moore, E.M. Rogers, Peter Senge, and many others. We have included a complete list of citations in the References section, if you would like to read further.
The patterns are listed alphabetically, with a brief summary, on the inside front and back covers of the book. Pattern names include a page reference where the complete pattern may be found, for example, Fear Less(?). As we describe pattern uses and experience reports, you will see a pattern reference and you can turn to the appropriate page and read more about the pattern. This book can thus become a reference after you have read the initial chapters. When looking for the solution to a particular problem, you can simply skim the summaries and refer to the complete pattern description for a more detailed explanation.
This pattern collection has evolved over several years thanks to many pattern originators and countless others who have provided comments, pattern uses, and other feedback. Even though the book has now been published, we continue to care for these patterns and would like to hear from all of you, our readers. As Christopher Alexander noted:
We may then gradually improve these patterns which we share, by testing them against experience: we can determine, very simply, whether these patterns make our surroundings live, or not, by recognizing how they make us feel.
From the Back Cover
Fear Less: Introducing New Ideas into Organizations48 patterns for driving and sustaining change in your organization
Change. It's brutally tough to initiate, even harder to sustain. It takes too long. People resist it. But without it, organizations die. Fortunately, you can succeed at making change. In Fear Less, Linda Rising and Mary Lynn Manns reveal 48 patterns of behavior associated with successful change in knowledge-driven organizations, and show exactly how to use them in your organization.
Find out how to
- Understand the forces in your organization that drive and retard change
- Plant the seeds of change
- Drive participation and buy-in, from start to finish
- Choose an "official skeptic" to sharpen your thinking
- Make your changes appear less threatening
- Find the right timing and the best "teaching moments"
- Sustain your momentum
- Handle adversity, celebrating success
Inspired by the "pattern languages" that are transforming fields from software to architecture, the authors illuminate patterns for every stage of the change process: knowledge, persuasion, decision, implementation, and confirmation. These flexible patterns draw on the experiences of hundreds of leaders. They offer powerful insight into change agent behavior, organizational culture, and the roles of every participant. Best of all, they're easy to use—and they work!
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A large part of my current work is in helping companies manage the transition from how they currently develop software to developing software with an "agile process." The book codified some of the things I've done for years without thinking about why but more importantly it also presented ideas I hadn't thought of. For example, the "Champion Skeptic" pattern says to designate a skeptical, strong opinion leader to be the "official skeptic." I've always made a point of involving these skeptics because they can become your best advocates if you convert them. However, I've experimented with the idea as presented here and it works well.
Change will remain hard, even after reading this book. But, you'll be much better prepared and you should find many of the patterns here very helpful.
This book isn't only for managers. Even if you're a small cog in a big wheel, using the techniques in this book, you can effect change that will benefit your team. With this book as a reference, you won't feel like you're wandering into the wilderness; you'll have proven techniques to guide you. Keep it handy, because you'll go back to it again and again!
The challenge is in moving (people) forward. In this book, the authors give everyone of us the tools (patterns) and the methods (stories) to successfully influence change in organizations.
None of the patterns should come as a surprise. You've probably seen all of them in practice at one time or another. It's the packaging and the sage advice that is worth the price. Having a single source of wisdom for a broad variety of change approaches is, as they say - priceless.
Also, the book is funny. Must read.
The "patterns" are, with a few exceptions, beyond obvious. Here are a few sections that would lose nothing if you reduced them to the title alone: "Ask for help," "Brown Bag," "Do Food," "e-Forum," "Involve everyone," "Just do it."
In the "Do Food" pattern, you will learn the following: "Usually a meeting is just another ordinary, impersonal event." Fascinating, tell me more. "Mention the availability of food when you advertise the event." Right-oh. Anything else? "Chew the food thoroughly before swallowing, in order to prevent accidental choking death." Okay, I made that last one up, but you get the idea.
The organization is also strange. There's kind of a narrative progression of patterns up front, which is relentlessly cross-referenced with the full pattern sections. It's not clear to me if I'm supposed to be jumping back and forth between the patterns, or reading the narrative bit all at first, then onto the full patterns, and the authors don't answer that question. Fearless Change is really cross-referenced to death. Every pattern mentions 5 other patterns to use. "Hint: If you're out of food money, have a Brown Bag (113)." That's helpful, if you don't know what a brown bag is and need to look it up.
Last but not least, a lot of the writing tends toward pointy-haired boss speak. For instance, the authors incessantly refer to people in their examples as "change agents" instead of their actual roles.
You may get something out of this by borrowing someone else's copy and skimming lightly, as I wish I had done.
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