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People Before Things Hardcover – March 31, 2016
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Any business or technology leader leaning into the winds of change will find sustaining value in the advice and ideas shared by Chris Laping in People Before Things. Throughout this highly readable book (which feels like a conversation with a wise and witty CIO), Chris applies his fresh-from-the-front-lines perspective to the stodgy topic of change management. --Maryfran Johnson, Editor in Chief, CIO Events, IDG Enterprise
Chris Laping is one of the most engaging CIO orators I have encountered in my career. He now ranks among the most compelling CIO authors, as well. Chris' ability to paint word pictures translates perfectly from the stage to the page. His colorful and amusing anecdotes illustrate the importance of putting People Before Things, driving successful change through the enablement and activation of those chiefly responsible for making it happen. --Bill Schlough, SVP & Chief Information Officer, San Francisco Giants
About the Author
Chris Laping brings more than 25 years of information technology and business transformation experience to his newly written book on change leadership, People Before Things. Chris enjoyed 14 years as a Chief Information Officer across three different brands and the work of his teams has been spotlighted in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Fast Company, and CIO Magazine among others. His book explores the connection of the human experience to the outcomes of change and transformation initiatives and the role leaders play to pave success. Most recently, Chris was the Senior Vice President, Business Transformation and Chief Information Officer at Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, where he was part of a management team that completed a successful turnaround of an $8 stock to $89. Chris has received several awards for his work in the IT industry including being named as a ComputerWorld Premier 100 IT Leader. He has also received three InfoWorld 100 awards, InformationWeek's Social Business Technology Leader award and The Economist's Top 5 Social Business Leader. The work of his teams has been spotlighted in three books: The Engaged Leader, Mobile Mind Shift, and Implementing World Class IT. Chris is originally from Jacksonville, FL. He received a Bachelor of Science in Management Information Systems at Florida State University and his Master of Business Administration at the University of Florida.
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PEOPLE BEFORE THINGS: Change Isn't an End-User Problem. Laping was CIO at Red Robin and he writes as a man who has learned from the failures and successes of leading IT change efforts. "As such, I toiled in the writing of this book. I wanted to find the perfect balance between presenting high-level concepts (ones that don't prescribe solutions) and providing enough detail so readers can successfully implement these ideas." I think he succeeded.
Failure is an option whenever you deal with people, and machines. I work almost entirely on the people side of the efforts associated with growth and development. Transformation has been a particular field of interest for many years, and yes, it happens best when there is alignment involving a well designed process, and there is enough capacity. My working definition of capacity involves one's conscious ability to embrace non-dual thinking at a high, and then even higher level of awareness. To activate the transformation process, Laping recommends effective communication, learning, stakeholder engagement, and support. Truth be told, it is the same in a family. "It's more important to understand than it is to be understood," wrote Covey. Learning Organizations said Senge. Stakeholder engagement said Freeman. Servant Leadership said Greenleaf. Laping has pulled together some common sense wisdom that is easily validated.
Creating alignment around the WHY reminds me of Sinek's famous TED talk, and the first principle of Conscious Capitalism.
IDEO, formerly owned by Steelcase and founded by Tom and Dave Kelley, has been my go-to source for Human Centered Design. When "less is more" and innovation are your goals, HCD is a great methodology. I especially liked the recommendation to share what's next, and passed that along to a client in the midst of a change process.
Then, Laping focuses on the lack of focus as we all try to put "ten pounds of crap in a one-pound bag" and in so doing confront the capacity issue. While he focuses on time management, on priorities, pushing through what Godin calls "The Dip," and how important it is to work well as a team so that change is embraced, I tend to focus on that, and more. Laping's work is helpful in framing and reframing what is needed to move people from just being aware, to understanding, to actually embracing the change to the point that it becomes a preference to be different. Raving Fans are what we are after. "Capacity" to me is more about a mental-emotional-spiritual capacity to process in a non-dual way so that one can live in a VUCA world with equanimity. Adams and Anderson's work on Mastering Leadership is terrific in that regard and a must read for leaders, as is Wigglesworth's on Spiritual Intelligence. Followers are attracted to evolved leaders.
"What we have here is a failure to communicate." Remember Cool Hand Luke? It is the single most common issue that couples and partners bring to me as a marriage therapist. Listen deeply first. Read quickly and accurately, then respond quickly and accurately. Pace before you lead. Here is a great line that made me think of preachers up in the pulpit: "In my opinion, communications should be used to provide awareness, and that's it." Buy in comes from doing.
I'm a learner on the Strengthsfinder. We learn by trial and error, over and over again, and then once we have mastered something we share what we have learned. I'm trying to do that right here and now.
I took a MOOC from Ed Freeman, the professor of Stakeholder Theory and Practice. In the work that I do I try to encourage leaders to think in big systems ways about all the stakeholders that are emotionally invested in the WHY of the organization, in it noble purpose. Laping offers some simple suggestions on how to engage your stakeholders.
And then there is support - LOVE YOUR PEOPLE! You employ human beings, souls who are trying to have a meaningful human existence. Love them through the human drama. "Good ideas don't transform organizations and results - People do. [I like the capital P -Andy] So go forth and lead with your heart; change your organization; show your team members you care and; finally, always put People Before Things! Always!"
I'm ordering up a handful of PEOPLE BEFORE THINGS for give-aways. There is bookshelf in my office loaded with a variety of books that I give away as the Spirit leads. This book will be on that shelf.
Thank you Markus! And, thank you Chris!
Love you both.
From Enabling People for Change to Activating People for Change, Chris brings a welcome focus on the people of an organization. By focusing on the people instead of the things, Chris opens a door to success that doesn't require spending of money...instead, the makings of success are available to every person in every pursuit (don't think this is limited to IT because of Mr. Laping's CIO background!). I can't think of a person or organization that won't benefit from the wisdom Chris shares.
I think it is worth pointing out that the wisdom shared in this book is useful outside of change management - after all People are at the center of everything we do. Any time we put People first, we are setting the stage for success.
I consider this to be essential reading for anyone facing change (isn't that everyone?!), from an individual contributor on up through project managers and leadership - including the ranks of the CxO.
Cheap. Fast. Good. Pick two. "People Before Things" is a reminder of this thinking for many and a mind-shift for others - let's hope the latter are few.
I may or may not have exclaimed “YES!” on more than one occasion while reading.