What’s “Who Killed Change?” About?
In this “Who Killed Change?” book review, we follow the story of a seasoned detective named Agent Mike McNally who investigate the murder of an unnamed person who simply goes by the last name “Change” at a large company. He recalls that there has been a pattern of Change family deaths recently and vows to get to the bottom of this.
The usual suspects are gathered: Carolina Culture, Chase Commitment, Spence Sponsorship, Chester of the Change Management Team, Clair Communication, Ernest Urgency, Victoria Vision, Perry Plan, Bailey Budget, Terry Trainer, Isabella Incentive, Peter Performance Management, and Aidan Accountability.
The story follows Agent McNally in his dramatic investigation to uncover the clues behind Change’s wrongful death.
Can Agent McNally trace back the steps to discover what really happened?
Why do I Recommend “Who Killed Change?”?
Leading change in a large company is a risky move. Especially among young, ambitious professionals (who are like penguins yelling “Our Iceberg is Melting!“). How many times have you seen someone boldly lead a change initiative only to get shot down by bureaucracy or fear (“That’s not how we do it here!“)?
This parable does a great job of illustrating that impediments to change rarely come from a single source. Small snags from every angle of the organization collectively can slow change momentum to a halt. Because the demise of change is spread so thinly, individuals have trouble seeing how they directly contributed (“Who moved by cheese?“)- more often than not, they point to another source as the “true cause”.
What makes this book stand out for me is its excellent humor and witty concept. I read this book on a flight back to California from Baltimore and it had me laughing and sharing lines with my neighbor passenger. Unfortunately the fun only lasted for half of my 5 hour flight time, which means it’s a small time investment with great insights in return. It reminds us that we all have a role in the formation of our culture, and the cumulative effects decide the fate of risk-taking change champions.
What are the Key Takeaways?
- Impediments to change come from all areas of the organization; they rarely come from a single source
- Many people are unaware of how their behavior contributes to the demise of change
- Change is often hyped for personal gain and then dropped once the quick reward is earned
- Declaring support of a change initiative is not the same as actively supporting it
“Commitment continued at last, “because that pretty much sums up what I feel like I’m doing here – preaching. The congregation – made up of leaders and managers – comes every Sunday. They smile, nod, shake my hand and then go out and behave any way they want Monday through Saturday.“” — Page 18
“Communication cupped her hand to her ear. “I’m sorry, could you repeat the question? The batteries on my hearing aid went dead a while ago and I haven’t had time to replace them.”” — Page 34
“he looked up and noticed that Vision had set aside her rose-colored glasses and put on a pair of glasses with lenses as thick as Coke bottles to read the menu. The irony is growing by the minute, McNally mused to himself.” — Page 47
“McNally walked to the window and spent a few moments looking at the sky before he turned back to his audience. “Oh, there you are,” McNally said, looking at Plan. “I expected you to have your head up in the clouds. That is where you spend most of your time, isn’t it?”” — Page 117
““You overused Delegation. And Follow-Up just wasn’t here enough. You used Consequences like a hammer and that’s a tool that usually works only when Fear is present.” Fear was now standing behind Consequences, massaging his shoulders.” — Page 119
Who Should Read “Who Killed Change?”?
This is a humorous, quick read for anyone who has seen change initiatives fail in large organizations. Its especially useful for people who may soon be asked to champion a change initiative.
If your change initiatives feel like a game of Clue, read “Who Killed Change?” with the candlestick in the study.
Already read it? Share your thoughts in the comments section!