Book Review: Change from the Inside Out

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This may be the most practical change guide you’ll ever read. Most books about change stay at the 30,000-foot level.

They don’t discuss the details. They don’t give you an idea of what can go wrong or details about how to talk to others about the change. This book does. That’s why it’s worth your money and your time.

Erika Andersen describes her goals for the book in two places. The first is in the Preface.

“In other words, this book can help you, your people, and your organization become more change-capable—better able to make the changes facing you now and to continue making the necessary changes in response to our ever-changing world.”

The second quote comes from chapter five.

“I want this book to be as valuable as possible, whatever your circumstances. Consider this as an adjunct to whatever help you get—a way to educate yourself about change and how it works.”

I think that she achieves both goals. The first four chapters describe the basic process by which human beings go through change. True, chapter one is titled “How change has changed.” But human nature hasn’t changed. Our world may be different, but our human response to change is the same that our grandparents and their grandparents had.

A key part of that human response is the natural human preference for homeostasis. We like things to stay the same. We don’t much mind changes we initiate, but we’ve really don’t like to have changes done to us.

Before we can work for change, we must undergo a mindset shift. If we don’t make the shift, we don’t change our behaviors. If we don’t change our behaviors, change doesn’t happen. The process of going from proposed change to change is described in, “The Change Arc.” When change happens in an organization, everyone needs to go through their own change arc. Many of the disconnects during a change result from people who are at different points in their individual arcs.

This has different implications for different people in the organization. The book addresses three categories. There are leaders, individuals, and the organization itself.

The first chapters in the book give you the principles of human nature that underlie the process that’s described in the second part of the book. Chapter five describes the five-step model for change that the author’s firm uses with client companies. Don’t worry, this isn’t a sales pitch just observations of an experienced practitioner. Here’s a quote from the introduction to the five steps.

“You’ll notice that, although the process and the model align, there’s not a clean one-to-one correlation. That’s because human beings are deeply individual and change at their own pace, and also because any major change in a system—an organization, a family, a country, a planet—reaches different individuals and parts of the system at different times.”

The five steps are each described in detail. You’ll get a heads up on common problems, a set of tools you can use, and some forms. It’s good practical advice. More are available from the book website. The five chapters on the process are:

• Clarify the change and why it’s needed.
• Envision the future state.
• Build the change
• Lead the transition
• Keep the change going

In a Nutshell

Change from the Inside Out by Erika Andersen may be the most practical change guide you’ll ever read. Buy it, read it, and take good notes. Then put it aside till change comes calling. When that happens, put what you learned to work.


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