Read an Excerpt
By Daryl Conner
We live in turbulent times. We all know that life has become more hectic and confusing than we ever bargained for. But because we're in the churn every day, it's easy to lose perspective about what it all means. When turbulence is the norm and pools of tranquility are all but a distant memory, an interesting paradox is formed.
Unanticipated events and consequences become so prevalent that even those who have learned to "expect the unexpected" can't seem to escape the burden perpetual unrest imposes. People absorb ambiguity and uncertainty at ever-increasing rates. Still, chaos regularly exceeds the last threshold they learned to accommodate, forcing yet another recalibration of expectations.
This is true in all aspects of our lives, but seldom is it felt more profoundly than in the organizations where we spend so much of our time and energy. In today's business environment continuous, overlapping change has become a way of life, yet many of us feel progressively less prepared to resolve the problems and exploit the opportunities the gyrations produce.
When embarking on major new endeavors, organizations must find connecting links between the executives, managers and employees affected by change initiatives. These links serve as the circuitry through which the energy of successful implementation flows. There are many such connections that can be formed; this book is about some of the more powerful ones.
Fostering a specific type of strength and flexibility dramatically increases the likelihood of achieving our desired goals, especially among individuals and teams feeling the impact of major disruptions. The singlemost important characteristic common among people who successfully navigate unfamiliar territory is what will be discussed here as "resilience.
A resilient person or team not only survives change, but actually bounces back, stronger than before the challenge. Beyond making sound decisions about what to shift, developing personal and team resilience is the single most important task related to increasing an organization's competitive advantage during turbulent times.
Resilience is important at three levels in the organization - the individual, the team, and the enterprise as a whole. We must cultivate resilient individuals who can create and serve in resilient teams. These teams, in turn, need to function in the aggregate as "nimble" companies.
Resilience is the essential component that helps transform the mystery of change into a manageable process. In a world where up to two-thirds of all change efforts are considered failures (or partial successes at best), the degree of resilience demonstrated is what separates those who succeed from those who don't.
I have been a student of the change process for over thirty-five years, and have worked with a wide variety of organizations, leaders and employees throughout the world. Since 1974, when ODR was formed, my life's sole work has been studying humans in transition and the impact of change in companies and government agencies.
Linda and Mark have distilled the critical findings from our three decades of work into 21 essential keys to help you better anticipate, understand, absorb, and adapt to the changes you and your organization will face in the coming years. Some of these principles and strategies may seem like applied common sense. Others may come across as subtler in nature, while still others may seem counter-intuitive.
Regardless of appearances, each of the 21 foundations presented here is based on years of solid observation and research involving thousands of people in hundreds of organizations. I can predict one thing with confidence - the number, sophistication, and pace of the changes headed your way will accelerate for the rest of your life.
Think of managing change as a generic life skill that you simply must cultivate. It is a general aptitude that allows you to survive and prosper in a world where the volume, speed, and complexity of change advance every year. Without this skill, the quality of existence (and possibly existence itself) can be in jeopardy.
Resilience is one of the essentials to gaining mastery in this area. I know you will enjoy this book, but I invite you to go beyond merely reading it. For maximum value, seriously invest yourself in what Linda and Mark have made available. Explore the potential for not only strengthening your own personal resilience, but the resilience of others close to you, the work team you rely on, as well as the resilience of your entire enterprise.
Daryl R. Conner
Consultant & Author of Managing at the Speed of Change and Leading at the Edge of Chaos