Terms of Engagement

Terms of Engagement

Changing the Way We Change Organizations

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There is something compelling about a bulleted or numbered list. It provides safety and a certain amount of psychological security. “Oh,” we think, “if I just do everything on the list then my…” and you get to complete the sentence — my employees will be engaged, my organizational change will be successful, my new career will be fulfilling, my team’s trust will be rebuilt. We all know it isn’t really that easy, but still we want to believe.
Don’t be fooled by the title — this bookhas nothing to do with the 1983 movie Terms of Endearment — although perhaps in some ways it does in that it is about people getting along despite differences. Nowhere is that more fraught with difficulties than in families and organizations. This book
deals with organizations. Axelrod starts out by shaming the old school of change management. Perhaps I came to change management late in the game, but his notion of the “old school” is nothing like what I learned. In my mind, change management is and should be about the people of the organization — how to include them, how to communicate with them, how to get the best out of and for everyone despite shifting sands under feet. And Axelrod agrees. His bookis peppered with graphic-facilitator-style illustrations showing his many lists (and yes, one of them has seven items) but his methodology is not a simple checklist. He draws on recent neuroscience research (such as work by David Rock) and management understanding (such as research by Henry Mintzberg) and his case studies come from the U.S. and Canada. If you are new to change management, you can skip the first chapter about the “old” change management, but do take your time to dwell on the insights in the rest of this book.


Lisa Sansom

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