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Posted April 28, 2011
The 7 Levels of Change is a great reference in almost any new situation. I like to assess my team's strengths and weaknesses in terms of their experiences and comfort with each level or type of change. When faced with a new challenge or mission, we formulate approaches and attack the situation from different routes. This assures we get a variety of possible solutions from diverse perspectives. Then we can converge quickly on a useful outcome, or just as often we've discovered a process leading unexpected outcomes.
I've worked with Rolf and his guides on several adventures. Most recently, I hosted several team problem-solving sessions in Japan. Regardless of the mess in the beginning, we've never failed to overcome obstacle and unfamiliar territory to find the summit. Frequently, the side-effect is a life changing experience for those I work with using this elegant framework and simple tools. One young teammate told me; "these were the most useful days in my career." An aspect of the 3rd Edition I particularly like is the many anecdotes from other successful change leaders.
Posted April 28, 2011
The 7 Levels of Change: Different Thinking for Different Results is self-described as a "Field Guide for Innovators, a handbook for thinking different, for doing different, and getting different results." Heavy emphasis on different? Absolutely. As the opening line of the book definitively proclaims, "This book is different."
How different? The overall organization is unquestionably distinct. You can start reading the book anywhere you like, beginning, middle or end. Simply read what interests you. Scan through the book and benefit from research, decipher diagrams, or analyze activities. Enjoy a ten minute overview by flipping through the corners of the pages which contain Power Point slides with key content. For visual learners there are comprehensive mindmaps. For more structured learners every chapter identifies mindshifts, thought processes, pros and cons, stresses and fears and specific tools you can use individually or with others to help motivate and manage change. Wide margins invite readers to capture their own thoughts.
The 7 Levels are premised on the concept that you can most reliably solve problems and obtain improved results when you think about your thinking; thus creating a mindshift - a new perspective which enables the reader to view each situation distinctly. Whether working in schools, the military, business, or government, such metacognition is fundamental for managing change.
The book identifies 7 Levels of change and the kinds of thinking necessary to actualize each change. It is an excellent template for change management and establishing a culture of innovation. The first 3 levels exemplify Sigma 1 or normal thinking, the type people engage in about 68% of the time and where the changes we make occur within the existing system. These changes improve the system but leave it fundamentally the same. The next two levels catalyze Sigma 2 or different thinking, the type of thinking used about 28% of the time. Sigma 2 changes are more dramatic and more prone to induce resistance because they create fundamental shifts to the system. The final two levels encourage Sigma 3, different, thinking which most people engage in about 4% of the time and at which we experience the greatest risk for failure and ridicule. At Sigma 3 we ignore the system and engage in radical, breakthrough ideas which can yield amazing results.
I originally purchased the book as a supplement to a college course I teach on Creativity and Innovation because it was full of useful activities. When I sat down with it for the first time I was further captured by its original organization and intriguing content. Now I use it as the main text for my course. Rolf Smith's The 7 Levels of Change: Different Thinking for Different Results, 3rd Edition is an excellent field guide for business leaders, educators, entrepreneurs or anyone who thrives on continually moving forward.
Posted April 24, 2011
So what's diffferent about the 3nd Edition?
It's much more of a "Fieldguide for Innovators" focused on Thinking Diffferent for Different Results:
* There is a copy of a corporate Innovation Strategy Paper developed for the first Air Force Office of Innovation
* New Chapter: Getting ready for change (individuals) - Much more depth on the implications of Meyers Briggs type and Adaptor-Innovator style in dealing with change and stress.
* New Chapter: Getting ready for change (teams) - Examines how teams react to and deal with change and stress, and includes a brief study of a May 1999 Mt. Everest Expedition.
* Index to more than 75 innovation tools and techniques for thinking diffferent and for getting diffferent results - and expanded explanations (How To's) for many of the tools.
* Updated and expanded "slide show" of 115 PPT graphics
There are some completely new chapters:
* Transitioning to Level 4 (out of normal 1-sigma thinking and doing): The Creative Problem Solving (CPS) model
* Transitioning to Level 6 (out of "interesting" 2-sigma thinking and doing into different): Case Study of a major Procter & Gamble Thinking Expedition (article from FAST COMPANY Magazine written by Anna Muoio)
There are some completely new sections and as well as updated appendices:
* Following each Level of Change there is a summary of the kinds of Fear and kinds of Stress that a particular Level of Change tends to bring out
* Case Study of a major Texaco Knowledge Managment Thinking Expedition
* Case Study related to International Project Management written by Kent Malone of Halliburton Company
* Case Study on a Change Plan for Dentistry written by Ronal Konig, DDS, of Houston, Texas.
* Case Study of turning Campbell Junior High School, Cypress, Texas into an Expeditionary School - updated by Gwen Keith (principal) to reflect the changes, results and some amazing successes over five years
* Detailed description of School for Innovators Expedition XXXVIII written by the participants day-by-day during their Expedition - a collection of personal insights and discoveries in step-by-step account mode.
* Easy-to-read Chart developed by Elvira Stestikova, a Conoco research chemist, that analyses each Level of Change in terms of Personal Habits & Characteristics, Thinking about Thinking, Mindshifts, Pros & Cons, and Levels of Fear. This is essentially a content analysis index to the book.
* Me, Inc. - The How To's at the end of each chapter have been expanded.
And... the 3nd Edition increased in size by 50%, from 213 pages to 320 pages - all really good ones!
Me? This is the book I should have written the first time. I think it's great - and I think it's both much better and significantly diffferent from the 1st Edition (1997).
- Rolf Smith, April 2011