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Wednesday, 13 July 2016 00:00

Four change management books (I think) you should read

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If you're like me, you probably have a stack of business books somewhere in the corner of your office, just waiting for the mythical day (or month) when you have nothing else to do but read.  Except that when you finally make some time, you discover that most of those books have one or two good points, buried in a whole lot of stuff you already knew or which isn't all that relevant to your day-to-day working life.

That's why, when Bruno Gebarski asked me the other day for my recommendations on great change management books, I didn't have to think too hard about my choices.  There are lots of business change management books out there, but only a handful that I read cover to cover, and refer to and reference often in my work. If you don't have time to read any other change management books this year, these will give you lots to work with.

Aftershock: Helping People Through Corporate Change
by Harry Woodward & Steve Buchholz

change management books beth banks cohn

This is my all-time favorite book about change, and in many ways it's the first book which really addressed the issues around what happens to the people in an organization when they're faced with huge changes.  Even though it was written in 1987, the points the authors make about how to manage people through change are still relevant today, and I find myself referring to Woodward & Buchholz's principles time and again.  If you want to understand - and I mean really understand - the people side of change, this is the book for you.

Leading Change
by John P. Kotter

leading change john kotter beth banks cohn

Of course, you can't talk about change management writers without talking about John Kotter.  He's been one of the leading voices in the field for years now.  I have to admit that I'm not the most passionate devotee of Kotter, but I really like this book because it speaks the language of business.  I can reference it with my clients - some of whom are familiar with Kotter already, from conferences or workshops - and they understand immediately.  I also use his concept of a 'guiding coalition' (making sure you have a team comprised of people with the right amount of power, expertise, credibility and leadership) on all my projects - it's one of those practical tips that make a huge difference no matter what kind of change initiative you're undertaking.

Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change
by William Bridges

managing transitions william bridges beth banks cohn change management

First published in 1995, this book is now in its 3rd edition, which gives you some idea of just how useful it must be.  It's designed for employees and managers, to help them get through change by understanding, accepting and even embracing the new status quo.  Not every change fits into the 'transition' category, but I find the model particularly useful in cases where the change initiative has potentially negative implications for individuals.  I also use it when I work with my executive coaching clients - we don't go step-by-step through Bridges' model, but I use the principles to help clients who are in that space between 'endings' and 'beginnings'.

ChangeSmart: Implementing Change Without Lowering Your Bottom Line
by Beth Banks Cohn

changesmart by beth banks cohn adra change architects

What would this list be without a shameless plug for one of my own books?  Written for middle- and higher-level managers, this book is all about leveraging the power of your employees to help a change go more smoothly and productively, and with the best possible effect on the bottom line of the organization.  It's got a field-tested framework that can be applied to almost any business project plan, has real-life examples, and, best of all, it can be read in under 2 hours!

What about you?  Which change-related books have been most influential in your day-to-day work?  (Share your recommendations on Twitter @BethBanksCohn.)

Read 19856 times Last modified on Wednesday, 09 August 2017 15:35

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Beth Banks Cohn, PhD, founder and president of ADRA Change Architects, is dedicated to helping you and your organization reach your full business potential…
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