Better ways of implementing change

The majority of change initiatives within large organisations fail because they are not implemented in an appropriate manner, according to Duncan Bury and Jane Buick in their book Thinking Harder: Being Smart About Transformation. The book is not actually about thinking as such, how to improve thought processes, strategising or decision making; instead it is about a process for implementing change which involves making a greater effort to understand the psychological implications, a process which the authors refer to as “thinking harder”.

The “thinking harder” process involves four steps: react, reframe, align, embed. The “react” step encourages people affected by a proposed change to express their emotional reaction. The “reframe” step helps them to understand the new circumstances brought about by the change. The “align” step occurs when the change process starts to come together. The “embed” step makes the change a permanent part of the organisation’s culture.

The authors claim that their ideas are illustrated in the book “in an oblique way in order to give opportunities for insight”. Less charitable readers may be inclined to say that the book is filled with rambling irrelevancies; for example chapter 9 spends some time discussing tossing coins and other simple examples of probability theory in order to make the point that you should take steps to make transformation more probable. I personally would have preferred more insight and less obliquity.

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