Business professionals present a refreshing approach for organizational change.
Some companies seem to be in a perpetual state of “improvement,” with thousands of dollars spent on consultants and a constant avalanche of new policies. Often, there’s little positive change, but it’s time to stop blaming leadership for an organization’s shortcomings, say Klubeck, Langthorne and Padgett. While that sentiment may be radical at first glance (and it will no doubt catch managers’ attention), the authors’ straightforward, comprehensible presentation is actually based on common sense. Instead of pointing fingers, business leaders are urged to examine the cultural climates of their organizations to determine if they’re indeed prepared for change. As the authors say, organizations often rush to fix problems with broad, companywide directives that are regularly doomed to fail. Instead, small “targeted initiatives”—with input from employees excited by the results—can spread positive attitudes. Therefore, the authors say, one of the most important steps to successful organizational change is understanding the differences between a mature company and an immature one. Part 1 of the book is devoted to this assessment, though the concept is expanded throughout the book with examples that will leave many readers nodding their heads: “You know you’re in an immature organization when one or more senior leaders regularly circumvent processes (and no one challenges them).” A self-assessment maturity quiz and an organizational health survey are included in the book’s appendix, as are other hands-on guides, and readers are urged to use the maturity assessments as tools for discussion before making any change. The authors’ presentation is concept-driven except for a few anecdotes, such as a short chapter “interlude,” which strives for a lighthearted tone but ends up a bit superfluous. Parts 2 through 4 delve into the identification of more mature-business behaviors and a discussion of some familiar terms, like strategic planning and effective communication. Later, a compelling case is made for personality over résumé content when hiring: “Mature organizations care more about talent, attitude, and personality than skill set. Skills and knowledge can be attained and enhanced easily…compared to developing a person’s personality. Personality traits, such as values, morals, a sense of humor, and the ability to relate to and interact with others, are present in youth and refined over a lifetime.” The text also includes charts, graphs and encouraging words, but readers shouldn’t expect motivational directives here; rather, the book’s clear-eyed practicality is its strength.
A viable tool for business leaders who accept change as part of growth.