One of the most common questions I get at the end of every workshop is “How can I learn more about this?” I suggest these books because they were pivotal to my own thinking about change:
Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard
This is my favorite book on change. I had been studying change for about a year when I finally came across this book and it became my favorite right away. The metaphor introduced in the book is still how I categorize change ideas! Even though this is a “business book” about “organizational change” it’s still the book I recommend most to anyone, including anyone in pursuit of personal or professional change. The explanations are really accessible. I find that most of the really complex stuff on change is explained clearly and supported with many good examples.
Pivot: The Only Move That Matters is Your Next One
This one is relatively new on the scene, released in September of 2016. Where Switch is a “business book” Pivot is a “career” book. The ideas are the same, though. This one is strong because the voice of the writer is very personal. She shares a number of personal stories that helps the reader feel less alone as they worry about how they are going to gain a career that feels meaningful.
The writer does a bit of a disservice by making unreasonable suggestions early in the book, such as “Get rid of all your vices when you’re going through change.” For a book from a “change expert,” that’s a bit of a rookie mistake.
Nonetheless, the meat of her method aligns with all the best books on change: gain empathy, get vision, make small changes that lower the stakes and learn your way into big changes. I met the author (Jenny Blake) and I think she’s a very accessible coach who clearly believes in the potential of her clients.
The 5th Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization
This recommendation comes with a HUGE caveat. I LOVED it; for me, this was one of those books that changed the way I see the world. It was the beginning of my understanding of how important vision is for any change, big or small. Peter Senge is the source of my whole theory on vision (i.e., vision isn’t commitment, it’s a tool that changes over time as the needs change. Vision is working if it helps you stay motivated and helps you prioritize). I LOVE IT. On the other hand, it is pretty dense. He’s a serious expert and isn’t always able to create that bridge to the less expert audience. I appreciate that at this stage of my game, but I think I would have found it overwhelming and inaccessible earlier on. If you’re up for a game-changer that requires some patience- go for it! If you’re unsure, start with Switch!
Actually, no matter who you are- start with Switch!
Bonus Book! Great Work: Do What Matters Most Without Sacrificing Everything Else
My book, Great Work, came out this year and it reflects my most updated thinking about change! I wrote this blog about these books as I was just becoming familiar with change management. I still love all three of them, AND I think you’ll enjoy Great Work!