Ten Tasks of Change: Demystifying Changing Organizations


The days of predictability and stability in organizations are gone.In today's world of rapid change, agility is a definingcharacteristic of successful, high-performance companies. In thisenvironment, say Jeff Evans and Chuck Schaefer, it is essentialthat the ability of an organization to work at change beinstitutionalized. In Ten Tasks of Change, the authors offer awhole-systems approach to change as work and present you with amodel for dealing with rapid and intentional change ...

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The days of predictability and stability in organizations are gone.In today's world of rapid change, agility is a definingcharacteristic of successful, high-performance companies. In thisenvironment, say Jeff Evans and Chuck Schaefer, it is essentialthat the ability of an organization to work at change beinstitutionalized. In Ten Tasks of Change, the authors offer awhole-systems approach to change as work and present you with amodel for dealing with rapid and intentional change in thetwenty-first-century organization.

Bridging the gap between theory and practice, Evans and Schaeferlink their approach to the basic organizational capability ofplanning and managing work. They give you a logical frameworkfor:
* Thinking through the objectives of the work of change
* Planning the activities to achieve those objectives
* Using a selection of best-practices principles to accomplishthem
* and much more.
By positioning their approach within the context of work, theyallow organizations to utilize existing competencies of planningwork and working plans.

The book is organized around the ten tasks of the framework, witheach chapter corresponding to an individual task and outlining thework required in it. You'll see, for example, how to firstappreciate the situation and identify the areas required to createa business case for change. You'll discover how to generate aleadership network through which local leaders can begin formingindividual visions for the future-which will ultimately enable thelarger organization's change. And the book explains how toformalize the system and process thinking into a design, completethe design, manage the transition, and maintain continuous processimprovement through action learning.

The Authors

Jeff Evans practices in the area of organizational capability andhuman system development. Evans's work has included large-scalechange at all levels of organization, both domestic andinternational.

Chuck Schaefer is a long-time professional in the field oforganization systems development and high performance organization.His extensive experience in practice and at university includesboth the private and public sector at levels from frontline workteams to major company redesigns.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Do work groups at your business interact internally as "headless horsemen," "feudal lordships," or "mindless centipedes?" In this book, organizational experts Jeff Evans and Chuck Schaefer identify the weaknesses of those work-group structures, and offer advice on how to reshape them so they function more effectively. That process, in turn, is part of the co-authors' 10-step, action-oriented approach to organizational change. "This book has been created to be a bridge between theory and practice in guiding organization change ... It approaches organization change as work, something that people can do, rather than as something that happens to them." So, if you're a "steward of change" at your organization, check out this instructive title.

Fatbrain reviewed this book and the publisher's summary, and found that the summary accurately reflects the book's contents.

Related Titles:

Schaefer and Evans provide an extensive list of references, including: The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of the Learning Organization, The Change Handbook: Group Methods for Shaping the Future, and Performance by Design: Sociotechnical Systems in North America.

Reviewed by MH - May 11, 2001

From the Publisher
"With the Ten Tasks approach we made a huge leap in capability,with a manageable level of disruption. We have since decided toapply this system on another technology application, which shouldindicate it's value to our organization" (Dave Reeves, vicepresident, Chevron Products Company)

"The Ten Tasks of Change is a must-read for anyone engaging andleading organizational change work." (Adrienne Seal, seniororganizational effectiveness consultant, The CloroxCorporation)

"Bridges the theory and practice of organizational change.Individuals at every level of the organization will benefit fromthe clear concepts outlined in this book." (Elizabeth Thach,associate professor, school of business, Sonoma StateUniversity)

"Will be particularly useful to managers and executives-demystifieschange processes by framing them as work tasks. A useful additionto the change literature." (Edwin C. Nevis, consultant, author,president of Gestalt International Study Center)

"Those who truly want to build commitment for new majorinitiatives, would do well to use the Ten Tasks as a guide." (RickMaurer, author, Beyond the Walls of Resistance and BuildingCapacity for Change Sourcebook)

"By peeling off the change jargon, the authors allow the reader tounderstand what needs attention and to practice logical, concrete,realistic steps to accomplish organizational change." (Gerald V.Miller, president, Gerald V. Miller Associates)

"Delivers as advertised. Use this book as a guidebook andunderstand these tasks, and organizational change will be betterunderstood, and more importantly, achieved." (Kevin Eikenberry,president, Discian Group)

"...the authors state that their aim is to bridge the gap betweentheory and practice...they have certainly succeeded..."(Professional Manager, November 2001)

"Chapter provide an easy, pragmatic approach to achieving thebasics of tasks of the framework presented by the authors."(Library Bookwatch, 1/02)

Specialists in organization systems offer an approach to change linked to the basic organizational capacity of planning and managing work. They provide a logical framework for thinking through the objectives of change, planning activities to achieve those objectives, and selecting principles to accomplish them. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780787953454
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 4/2/2001
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.35 (h) x 1.01 (d)

Meet the Author

JEFF EVANS practices in the area of organizational capability and human system development. Evans's work has included large-scale change at all levels of organization, both domestic and international. CHUCK SCHAEFER is a long-time professional in the field of organization systems development and high performance organization. His extensive experience in practice and at university includes both the private and public sector at levels from frontline work teams to major company redesigns.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter Zero

To some people "Chapter Zero" may sound a little odd. We have given that title to this opening chapter for two reasons. First, the first step in your organization change work is in Chapter One, the next chapter. Chapter Zero picks you up at "ground zero," what you need to understand about the material in this book before you address that first step. Chapter Zero gives you the overall framework around which this book is formed and the critical beliefs about people and organizations facing change that underpin all of what you will read here. Second, it is titled Chapter Zero simply so that the following chapter titles can match the numbers of the change tasks they address, Chapter One addresses Task I, Chapter Five addresses Task V, and so forth.

About Changing Organizations

Changing is what organizations do, not what you do to them. Changing is the continuous process of an organization attempting to align itself with shifts in its marketplace and with the realities of its external financial, physical, social, political, and technological environment. It is the organization's drive to synchronize purpose, process, structures, people, information, rewards, and management systems within itself and within an integrated outside world.

Organization change can be complex because organizations are complex. Guiding successful intentional change can be puzzling and difficult because the organization is held in place by networks of established interrelationships among its environment, its processes, its structure, and its people. Whether an imperative for change comes from business needs, technological opportunities, mismatches in structural alignment, or the nature of the organization's people, for the change to be lasting, all aspects and interrelationships of the affected networks will have to change. We'll talk more about this "work system" view of organizations in the next chapter and throughout the book.

In yesterday's world, major organization change was often experienced as a cataclysmic eruption one hoped would only happen every millennium or two. In today's more complex, dynamic world, organization change is ongoing work, not just a one-time "catch up" event. Being an agile change artist is as critical for success as being a reliable producer. Successful change is required for survival. Changing more responsively and effectively than one's competitors is required to prosper.

About the People in a Change Situation

Changing organizations are complex because people are complex. People tend to objectify their work. They experience it as separate from themselves, something "out there" that they examine and "work on." They may engage their work with passion, but they still tend to see it as something apart from themselves, something they "do" rather than who they are. A change situation replaces the microscope with a mirror. The prospect of change confronts people with the reality that they are not separate from their work, that in a deeper sense they are what they do and they are defined by how they do it. The task of self-reflection is more complex than the task of objective problem solving. The work of changing organizations is not only about finding a way to apply a logical process to a non linear reality, but it is also about setting the conditions within which people are willing to do research on themselves.

The Work of Changing Organizations

Conventional wisdom tells us that changing our organizations is very difficult. That's because we built them in a complex way, not because change is mysterious and unfathomable. Changing an organization is hard work because organizations, and the people who inhabit them, are designed to provide stability. When we put our organizations together, we are looking for predictability. We know we may have to be nimble in a fast-moving marketplace, but at the same time we want to be sure that promises made will be promises met. Our work systems are designed to "ingest" variance without losing control of the process. We pay our people to pursue the objectives tenaciously in spite of the odds. We struggle with change, not because our organizations aren't agile, but because they are so agile in order to stay on course and avoid the rocks in the roadway. Organizations are hard to change because the organization designers before us and the managers who followed them have done their jobs so well.

Changing organization may be hard work, but it doesn't have to be mysterious. In this book, the work involved in changing organization is modeled as "The Ten Tasks of Changing Organization," illustrated by the ten activity bars in Figure 0.1.

The overlapping bars in the model signify that, although the tasks flow sequentially in concept, the work addressing any one task will continue concurrently with the work associated with previous and subsequent tasks as the process unfolds. Picture the overall Ten Tasks as a cascade of activity, like a step-down waterfall, where each level feeds the next and each builds on the flow from before. As a change unfolds, you must cycle over and over through the essence of all of the tasks as you drill down into the details at different levels of the work system or open up change in different parts of the organization. This is what we mean by saying the process of change may be approached logically, but it is not linear.

The Ten Tasks is not a "methodology" and not a step-by-step process for managing change activities. It is more useful when seen as an overarching checklist of what to pay attention to as you apply your own logical thinking to accomplish the change. An analogy is the early computer game called Dungeons and Dragons. I never got the hang of it, but my son was pretty intense about it. As I understand, you are given a general idea about a journey and a bundle of weapons and tools that you can apply as you run into the unexpected beasts of the passageway, the bottomless pit, the unseeable door, the unclimbable wall, and so forth. If what you try doesn't work, you adjust your tactics and try again. As you learn and succeed, you progress and are given more tools and weapons and more insight about how to apply them to the next unexpected challenge, and the challenges just keep coming and coming. Stewardship in changing organization is a little like playing Dungeons and Dragons. The Ten Tasks gives you an overview of the path and some good ideas (your weapons and tools) to work with. The bad news is that only you can figure out how to apply them, using your own and your colleagues' best judgments, as the adventure unfolds and the specific challenges come up.

The chapters in this book address each of the ten tasks in order. Chapter Eleven provides a checklist of the work to be undertaken during each task. It can serve as a memory jogger, helping you as you work your way through your change effort. Or you can hand it to another person as a quick outline to guide discussion about where you have been, what has and has not been accomplished so far, and where to go next...

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Table of Contents

1. Task I: Appreciating the Situation.

Getting Started.

Approaching the Organization As a Work System.

Approaching Task I As a Dialogue.

Assessing the Alignment of Your Environment and Your Purpose.

Examining Your Processes and Practices.

Estimating the Scope and Impact of Potential Changes.

Estimating the Magnitude of the Change Effort.

Judging the Organization's Readiness for Change.

Preparing a Compelling Business-Based Case for Change.


2. Task II: Developing Strategic Alignment.

The Work of Task II.

Establishing a Communication Network and Strategy.

Developing a Dialogue About the State of the Business.

Developing a Dialogue About the Business Case for Change.

Learning About Alternatives.

Developing a Compelling Vision for the Future.

Developing a Strategy and Proposed Approach to Change.

Developing a High-Level Action Plan.

Implementing an Infrastructure.


Task III: Evoking Change Leadership.

The Work of Task III.

Establishing a Leadership Network.

Involving Potential Change Leaders.

Enabling the Leadership Network to Act.

Providing Support for Leaders' Future Roles.

Defining Change Leadership Behaviors for "Walking the Talk".

Clearly Defining the Leadership Rewards and Consequences.

Identifying and Securing the Required Support and Resources.


4. Task IV: Expanding Understanding and Commitment.

The Work of Task IV.

Establishing Safety Nets for the Organization.

Establishing Role Structures for the Change Effort.

Establishing Widespread Understanding of the Change.

Beginning Appropriate Education Processes for the EntireOrganization.

Creating and Supporting Ongoing Dialogue.

Using Feedback Systems.

Creating a More Detailed Action Plan.


5. Task V: Analyzing Processes.

The Work of Task V.

Clarifying the Work System's Purpose and Boundaries.

Conducting Technical System Analysis.

Conducting a Human Systems Analysis.

Analyzing Major Process Threads—A Story.


6. Task VI: Designing Processes, Work, and Boundaries.

The Work of Task VI.

Designing for High-Performance Joint Optimization.

Clarifying the Organization Structure.

Creating a Provisional Design.


7. Task VII: Planning Implementation.

The Work of Task VII.

Our Approach to Implementation.

Validating the Design.

Identifying Further Design Work.

Establishing Timelines for Design Work.

Establishing Transition Management Process.

Establishing Integration Processes and Issue.

Resolution Forums.

Identifying Individuals or Teams to Complete the Work.


8. Task VIII: Establishing Metrics.

The Work of Task VIII.

Determining the Focus of the Metrics.

Identifying the Organization's Learning Needs.

Identifying the Organization's Levels of Output.

Identifying Categories of Performance.

Identifying Realistic Metrics for Categories.

Reinforcing Appropriate Behaviors.

Setting the Scope of the Metrics.

Determining Data Collection and Analysis Methods.

Determining Format, Feedback, and Evaluation Processes.

Agreeing on Level of Standardization.

Establishing Linkage to Reward System.


9. Task IX: Managing Transitions.

The Work of Task IX.

Maintaining Constancy of Purpose and Positive StrategicIntent.

Defining Work-Unit Requirements.

Establishing Decision Slopes and Plan Transitions.

Planning and Supporting the Development of IndividualCapabilities.


10. Task: X: Continuous Learning and Improvement

The Work of Task X.

Understanding the Organizational Learning Process.

Designing Your Organizational Learning Process Thread.

Developing Ongoing Capability to Support OrganizationalLearning.

Planning for Closure and Celebration.


11. A Checklist.

The Checklist.

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