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When I appear at client engagements or conferences, people will often draw me aside to ask some variation of the same question, “How do I convince my [co-worker, boss, employees, team, senior leader, friend] to [X]?” What the inquirer usually has in mind is starting some new, more appealing behavior or making a decision that will benefit the situation. The new thing is something they have been unable to induce their CBETSLF to do, thus far. My response is typically some variation of “I’m not in the convincing business. It has a low payoff probability.” While true, it’s a vague and unsatisfying answer.
Since the publication of Esther Derby’s new book, 7 Rules or Positive, Productive Change: Micro Shifts, Macro Results, I will change my response. I will say, “If you’d like this person or situation to become different than what it is, read Esther’s book. Then apply her ideas to answering your own question.” Her powerful theme of change by attraction is what I meant all along by “not in the convincing business” but stated so much more positively.
Each chapter focused on one of the seven rules provides compelling empirical examples of the rule in action. The chapters include the practical theory, ideas for resources, concise activities for applying the rule, and a set of key takeaways. All the elements offer food for thought to anyone who is serious about becoming an effective change agent in their profession, their workplace, or their community.
If you are curious about an approach to change that actually works, this book is for you.
This book exceeded by expectations. “7 Rules” is a concise, easy to read book full of useful information . In addition to the “Rules” you will learn about a variety of ways to model organizational dynamics so that you can identify patterns that inhibit change.
This is a very actionable book. Chapters wrap up with things you can do and with a summary of key points. This book can be as much a daily reference as a tools for learning to be a better change agent.
While 7 Rules is about organizational/ corporate change, concepts in the book are also helpful in helping you to navigate tricky issues in community and family life. For example, the relationship between congruence and empathy underlies being an effective change agent, and the book can help you understand these concepts better.
The lessons in the book will help you understand how to make changes at any level, from small things like encouraging unit testing to larger things like a better dev process.
The book provides useful advice for managers, scrum masters and those leading sprint and project retrospectives. Since change can happen at all levels anyone who has found challenges at work that they want to improve should consider this book.
I feel like Esther must have known that I was starting a new job next Monday when she decided to write this book. It's an ideal companion for someone helping an organization navigate growth, increasing complexity, and other tricky challenges. I see myself relying on it quite a bit in the coming months!
With her Rules, she lays out a solid framework of lenses and tools to help discover where an organization is now and help it move forward. She provides both actionable guidance, as well as tips for further reading and investigation, making 7 Rules both immediately applicable and part of a broader exploration.
The book covers a surprisingly wide gamut of concepts and does so without mincing words, so it ends up dense and broad, both in a good way. I can see myself coming back to 7 Rules often for new ideas as my context changes, reminders of techniques for my current challenges, and leads to other resources when I need to go even deeper.
If you're looking for some new perspectives on how to help complex human systems change, 7 Rules is a great place to start. If you're familiar with the concepts and need a refresher or jolt of inspiration, you'll find those here, too.
With 7 Rules, Esther has captured an excellent "tip of the iceberg" for fostering positive change in complex systems. It's actionable and accessible, while providing pointers to further learning. It's a welcome addition to my small collection of go-to books for fostering change.
Getting good at facilitating or coaching change is really difficult. I think that at least partially, it's because there’s no one good class or book for it and as a result, many do not know what productive change looks like. And it seems like the people who are great at facilitating and coaching change have had the luck of finding a mentor that is good at it. But now, finally, there's this book that is available for everyone!
In her book, Esther has finally written about 7 guiding principles that help generate productive change. I found her book to challenge the outdated mechanistic approach to management and change that many books, even new ones, have.
I like short, concise, books and where many management and change books are more like a collection of work stories and metaphors that someone has tried squeeze together to a mechanistic framework that becomes too long and vague, Esther's book is inspiring, concise, and has a systems approach to change. It's one of those books that stands to be revisited regularly particularly when you enter new systems and are asked to facilitate productive change there.
It’s impressive how much she is able to fit in a short book like this. Whether you’re new to coaching systems and working with change in any way, or if you have years of experience this book will give you new insights and ways of looking at systems that will make you more effective.
All chapters resonated with me and I particularly enjoyed the chapters "Assess what is" and "Attend to networks" because they are so crucial for facilitating productive change. But as a consultant, I've found many clients wanting to skip those parts thinking that they then can make change happen faster and that they will start seeing positive results faster, only to be disappointed later on.
If you’re a scrum master, team coach of any sort, exec, manager, or if you just work with change in any capacity this book will help you evolve a much more effective approach to change.
What you can expect from this book: Seven highly practical rules for navigating through complex human / organizational change efforts, laid out in clear, easy to read language. You'll get all rules in an overview in the first chapter, then a deep dive into each rule, one per chapter, capped off with a three-page reminder of the rules and when they are most useful. Throughout the book, Esther illustrates the rules and various pitfalls with vivid stories from her own, varied career of working as a guide for change. The key takeaways at the end of each chapter are not just repetition, they reinforce the rules with sprinkles of additional thoughts.
You'll learn in depth about congruence, empathy, assessment, looking at the past for learning and insights, ways to find and activate human networks, guidelines for things to try, how to think about variation, and the importance of your own stance, style and attitude.
I was privileged to be a part of many of the Q&A sessions that Esther conducted over the past few years, where she did a deep dive into all of the rules in this book. I am grateful that those sessions turned out to be material for a book, since my notes were not too well organized. This book pulls everything together in a coherent, cohesive whole. I was so excited about the book that I somehow pre-ordered it twice.
Esther has done a superb job of turning her experience into these seven rules, laying them out with simple, easy to read language, largely free of jargon. In each chapter, she provides tools, models and questions you can put to practical use straight away. I used one of them in a team session the day after I had seen it on paper. It took me about a day altogether to read through the book the first time. I'll be going back through it at least one more time with a pencil and highlighter to make it easier to quickly locate all the gems that are set in this diadem of a book.
I purchased this book, curious whether this might be a typical management book rehashing old ideas. I was pleasantly surprised by its unique take on change. The author’s passion for effecting change in an organization, and just as importantly her experience, shows throughout the book. As does her focus on people. The book is full of insights, like “people change to keep something they value” and “weave networks to specifically support the desired change”. The author lays down 7 approaches for positive productive change. These come from a holistic mindset, where to effect change you must approach it from a variety of angles. I specifically liked “User Your Self”; I suspect many of us need to be reminded of how much we ourselves bring to the artistry of change. If you're looking to broaden your repertoire of techniques for effecting change this book offers exactly that.
Esther Derby has a long career of helping organizations and leaders change themselves, and the 7 Rules described in this book consolidate decades of her hard-won wisdom into resilient and adaptable heuristics for navigating this complex, ever-changing world. The Rules may seem simple (e.g. "Strive for Congruence", "Attend to Networks", "Experiment") but she has put a lot of thought into how these Rules enable change in a way that is respectful of people within the organization, and the stories she shares throughout the book illustrate how effective they can be. The Rules resonate with my own experience across several organizations in that when I have seen these Rules in practice, change was more likely to occur, and I have been miserable and unmotivated at organizations practicing the opposite of these Rules. I am thankful that Derby has shared her wisdom in these Rules in this book.
I can’t believe it possible to write a book better than Agile Retrospectives, but Esther Derby sure did! This book is full of wisdom, easy frameworks, and actionable advice. In an age where change happens daily, the rules of thumb, the perspective shifts, and the takeaways in this book will definitely help manage them. This is the first time I’ve seen anyone take on the accusatory call for accountability on teams that never committed to the work they were told they had to do. If every MBA program added this into their curriculum, our workforce would see vast improvement.
I have taken workshops from Esther in the past, so much of the book's content was familiar.
The reason I particularly like the book is that it provides a simplifying set of heuristics from which to view and experiment with CHANGE. It describes a heuristic, gives an illustrative story from Esther's experience, then expands the operational details of that heuristic.
I found myself writing notes to myself in reaction to what Esther wrote - on every page. It provided an organizing structure and words for my previous experiences. The only other book I have had a similar response to was Jerry Weinberg's, "Secret's of Consulting."
During the last six years, I have almost exclusively been consulting and coaching clients' Agile Transformations. Often I've wished I could to bring them quickly through some of the formative experiences I have had. This book is the next best thing.
I look forward to sharing the book with my clients and using it to co-create their organizational change with them.