Can you remember a time in the workplace when we haven’t been discussing the subject of change and how we must adapt to it if we are to survive? You’d think by now we’d not only accept the fact that change is constant, but we’d be experts in adapting to it. That, however, has yet to happen. So, let’s add another change metaphor to the ever-growing list. We’ve recently been informed that change is cheese, five frogs on a log, and even a rampaging river. This author, a senior vice-president at Boston Consulting Group, once likened managing change to balancing a mobile. In this book, she identifies change as a monster. She uses this term to describe the unpredictable “human issues that swirl around change.”
It is Duck’s contention that corporate transformations fail not because of operational tasks or systems but because of emotional factors and social issues. To understand and control the monster, Duck devised the “change curve” to represent the five phases of change: stagnation, preparation, implementation, determination, and fruition. As she goes in depth about each stage, the author illustrates her explanation with personal examples from her experiences as an organizational consultant. Duck explains that each company’s experience along the curve will vary; the phases, though, will always remain the same. She then uses examples to illustrate successes and difficulties in negotiating the curve.
The Change Monster is a tough-minded but compassionate book about leadership when major changes are demanded: after a merger, when profits are falling, or markets are being lost. It is also about the discipline and kindness it takes to get the people who report to and depend on you to confront their fears and move on to a new agenda, strategy, or company.
Though targeted at the change-management drivers of the business world, The Change Monster is infused with a sense of the effects of change in all areas of life. This book is a reminder, through stories and anecdotes, of the essentials of the heart and mind that provide the basis for leadership. It also offers warnings that probably will be heeded only after they have been ignored.
Duck is very clear about this and the steps it takes to be successful. She pares away the jargon, excuses and finger pointing this subject engenders and leaves us with an understandable and inspiring map of the territory. Refreshing and to the point, Duck offers corporate leaders uncommon business advice in this evolving age of bricks-and-clicks.
(This book review was originally published in 2001 as one of the Top 10 Books – Edition 8.)