Change or Die: Could You Change When Change Matters Most?

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By Alan Deutschman (HarperCollins, 2007)

At the end of his book, Fortune magazine reporter Alan Deutschman makes an apology for the title, which he admits is a bit of a bait and switch. The fearful connotations are meant to grab the potential reader, after which Deutschman can begin arguing the opposite view: Fear doesn’t motivate people to change (at least in the long term); hope does.

Deutschman offers several compelling case studies that illustrate how most lasting changes have three stages in common: The people making the changes relate to others around them and feel responsible for their actions; they learn to repeat new behaviors with the support of their community; and they reframe their problem in different, more empowered terms, which allows them to shift their pattern of thinking. His examples include heart-disease sufferers who transformed their destructive lifestyle habits, as well as hardened ex-cons and addicts who became successful workers and entrepreneurs. Deutschman also clarifies how we can apply these principles to our own lives, from a change of exercise habits to the transformation of an entire industry.

Whether you’re seeking to kick a bad habit or save an ailing organization, these fresh ideas are likely to change your thinking about how change happens — or doesn’t.

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