Immunity to Change: How to Overcome It and Unlock the Potential in Yourself and Your Organization

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Overview


A recent study showed that when doctors tell heart patients they will die if they don't change their habits, only one in seven will be able to follow through successfully. Desire and motivation aren't enough: even when it's literally a matter of life or death, the ability to change remains maddeningly elusive.

Given that the status quo is so potent, how can we change ourselves and our organizations?

In Immunity to Change, authors Robert Kegan ...

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Immunity to Change: How to Overcome It and Unlock the Potential in Yourself and Your Organization

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Overview


A recent study showed that when doctors tell heart patients they will die if they don't change their habits, only one in seven will be able to follow through successfully. Desire and motivation aren't enough: even when it's literally a matter of life or death, the ability to change remains maddeningly elusive.

Given that the status quo is so potent, how can we change ourselves and our organizations?

In Immunity to Change, authors Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey show how our individual beliefs--along with the collective mind-sets in our organizations--combine to create a natural but powerful immunity to change. By revealing how this mechanism holds us back, Kegan and Lahey give us the keys to unlock our potential and finally move forward. And by pinpointing and uprooting our own immunities to change, we can bring our organizations forward with us.

This persuasive and practical book, filled with hands-on diagnostics and compelling case studies, delivers the tools you need to overcome the forces of inertia and transform your life and your work.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781422117361
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press
  • Publication date: 1/13/2009
  • Series: Leadership for the Common Good
  • Pages: 340
  • Sales rank: 70,256
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey , coauthors of How the Way We Talk Can Change the Way We Work, have been research and practice collaborators for twenty-five years. Kegan is the William and Miriam Meehan Professor in Adult Learning and Professional Development at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education. Lahey is the Associate Director of Harvard's Change Leadership Group and a founding principal of Minds at Work, a leadership-learning professional services firm.
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Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Pt. I Uncovering a Hidden Dynamic in the Challenge of Change

1 Reconceiving the Challenge of Change 11

2 Uncovering the Immunity to Change 31

3 "We Never Had a Language for It": Engaging the Emotional Life of the Organization 61

Pt. II Overcoming the Immunity to Change in Organizations, Individuals, and Teams

4 Overcoming the Groupwide Immunity to Change: A Collective Approach 87

5 David Doesn't Delegate: Overcoming an Individual's Immunity to Change 125

6 Cathy Can't Contain Herself: Overcoming an Individual's Immunity to Change 145

7 The Case of Nascent Pharmaceuticals Overcoming Individual Immunities to Help a Team Succeed 169

Pt. III Over to You: Diagnosing and Overcoming Immunities in Yourself and Your Organization

8 Unlocking Potential: Three Necessary Ingredients 209

9 Diagnosing Your Own Immunity to Change 227

10 Overcoming Your Immunity to Change 253

11 Surfacing Your Collective Immunity to Change 283

Conclusion: Growing Your Own: How to Lead So People Develop 307

Notes 325

Index 329

About the Authors 339

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Customer Reviews

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  • Posted October 10, 2009

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    New Way to Approach an Old, Old Problem

    The authors identify two basic kinds of changes a person can make: (1) Technical Change and (2) Adaptive Change.

    A Technical Change is fairly easy. For example, if I'm always hunting around frantically in the morning for my car keys, I can change that behavior by simply making sure that I hang up my keys in the same place every time I come in the door. Thus, there is no real emotional investment in the change.

    An Adaptive Change means you have to completely change the way you're thinking; thus, it's harder. Adaptive Change means you have to be willing to explore your own hidden agenda and then tweak it. As an example, a manager might want to delegate more work; however, despite employing available techniques (which are usually attempts to apply Technical Change), isn't successful. If that person looks deeper, he or she perhaps discovers a fear that not being involved with the day-to-day work will make him/her look like a lazy person. Still another person might look deeper and discover that he/she is afraid that if a subordinate screws up the work then he/she (the manager) will be fired.

    The authors describe this hidden agenda to be a sort of emotional immune system. In real life, our physiological immune system functions to protect us. You get a cut and the immune system kicks in to fight possible infection. However, if you get an organ transplant your immune system will likely fight it. That doesn't mean to trash your whole immune system; it means you have to create a bit of complexity by taking a drug. Thus, you're re-programming your immune system.

    With the emotional immune system, we have to re-program deep-seated assumptions we've created to protect ourselves.

    In a way, the authors are presenting a therapeutic model that most people would be more likely to go through with a "life coach" or "career coach" rather than with a therapist, but it boils down to the same thing. It's a clever way of packaging their own coaching seminars, but I think it would be possible for a person to work the program on his/her own. Certainly the insight that a person would gain just by working the exercises would be valuable.

    To their credit, the authors haven't turned this into a bland self-help book for either weight loss or management philosophy. It's going to require a serious investment of thought just to get through the first section on brain complexity and types of change, and then most of the examples are of people in business who are working hard to change their work habits. And then the authors apply their model to an entire organization.

    So, the problems aren't new: People need to make changes but don't seem to be able to succeed. But this solution of looking very deeply -- not just to "what am I doing instead of making the changes" and not even "why am I doing this" -- but to deeply hidden assumptions about how a person views him/herself and his/her world.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 21, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Guide to overcoming resistance to change

    The core concept of this fascinating, important book - that people and organizations want to change but often fail because they get in their own way - is simple and clear. Many of the stories of how individuals and groups have changed are inspiring. However, some are so attenuated that they fail to capture subtleties, such as exactly how the subjects identified and overcame the beliefs that blocked them. That said, Robert Kegan, who teaches at Harvard's Graduate School of Education, and Lisa Laskow Lahey, the associate director of Harvard's Change Leadership Group, address a problem many people encounter daily, and their synthesizing discussion of learning theory provides a useful framework for thinking about change. They are perceptive about the fundamental mismatch between how people attempt to change and what they really need to do. getAbstract recommends this book to managers and executives who must guide their organizations through transformations or crises, and to individuals who want to remain open-minded and flexible.

    To learn more about this title, check out the following Web page: http://www.getabstract.com/summary/12028/immunity-to-change.html

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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