Change is difficult but essential—Esther Derby offers seven guidelines for change by attraction, an approach that draws people into the process so that instead of resisting change, they embrace it.
Even if you don’t have change management in your job description, your job involves change. Change is a given as modern organizations respond to market and technology advances, make improvements, and evolve practices to meet new challenges. This is not a simple process on any level. Often, there is no indisputable right answer, and responding requires trial and error, learning and unlearning. Whatever you choose to do, it will interact with existing policies and structures in unpredictable ways. And there is, quite simply, a natural human resistance to being told to change.
Rather than creating more rigorous preconceived plans or imposing change by decree, agile software developer turned organizational change expert Esther Derby offers change by attraction, an approach that is adaptive and responsive and engages people in learning, evolving, and owning the new way. Shepresents a set of seven heuristics—guides to problem-solving—that empower people to achieve outcomes within broad constraints using their personal ingenuity and creativity.
When you work by attraction, you give space and support for people to feel the loss that comes with change and help them see what is valuable about the future you propose. Resistance fades because people feel there is nothing to push against—only something they want to move toward. Derby’s approach clears the fog to provide a new way forward that honors people and creates safety for change.
About the Author
ESTHER DERBY draws on four decades of leading, observing, and living through organizational change, combining a deep knowledge of complex adaptive systems with an attention to people. She is the founder of esther derby associates, inc., working with a broad array of clients from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups. She also teaches workshops around the world, supporting leaders to amplify empowerment, engage their organizations in joint problem solving, and evolve their systems toward better results.
“In this book, Esther has beautifully captured the essence of successful lasting change. The seven rules provide a framework for engaging with people and systems in a way that honors everyone and creates the kind of safety necessary for change to take root, all without glossing over the hard parts. A must-read for anyone seeking to have a lasting impact or bring about change.” —Elisabeth Hendrickson, Vice President, Research and Development, Pivotal
“As a software executive, I have been responsible for leading or supporting change for a long time. I wish I had this book years ago; it would have vastly accelerated my learning.” —Kevin Goldsmith, Vice President of Engineering, AstrumU
“I hired Esther as a consultant to be part of my transformation team in our global organization. We put many of the topics and tools in this book into practice. Applying these concepts with Esther has been invaluable as I work with teams to navigate change.” —Ken Power, Principal Engineer/Engineering Director, Cisco Systems
“Change is a social process. It’s messy, confusing, upsetting, and very complex. With 7 Rules for Positive, Productive Change, Esther Derby has laid out a sense-making path for change agents that not only helps us assess situations, find congruence, and honor the human nature of knowledge work but also teaches us—the change agents—that true and lasting change starts within. Read this book, internalize the rules, and help your organizations inspect, adapt, and thrive.” —Ryan Ripley, creator of the Agile for Humans podcast, Ryan Ripley & Company
“Esther Derby has written a must-read guide for anyone whose organization is experiencing a complex shift. . . . Read this book—and learn from one of the best.” —Howard Sublett, Chief Product Owner, Scrum Alliance
“This book is a product of Esther’s hard-won insights and her ability to explain them in simple, memorable ways. It is an invaluable resource to all those in the field of knowledge work who want to understand what is going on at a deeper level and how to create effective change around them. It’s an opportunity to stand on her shoulders.” —Kevin Trethewey, Director of Engineering, Jemstep by Invesco
“This book is a blueprint for both novices and experienced change professionals to enhance their approach to complex change. The blend of both examples and detailed material helped me see where I need to polish my approach and where I need to improve my empathy. Selfishly, I plan to share 7 Rules with my team and leaders so they can gain a better perspective on complex change management.” —Ben van Glabbeek, Vice President, Agile Transformation, Fiserv
“Wow. If you want to help people, and the organizations they’re in, improve, these are indeed seven rules you need to know and will want to follow. It’s dangerous to go it alone. Take this book with you!” —Ron Jeffries, author of The Nature of Software Development
“Esther brings her vast experience of closely studying organizational change to show how embracing the human side of organizations means accepting them as the organic ‘forests’ they are, rather than mechanistic ‘machines.’ Her unique style of engaging storytelling and ability to carve out deep insights from everyday incidents revolving around change make this book a must-have guide of our times.” —Rashina Hoda, Senior Lecturer, Department of Electrical, Computer, and Software Engineering, The University of Auckland
“An accessible yet challenging addition to the growing literature on change, I’m especially touched by the deep humanness of the approach, including the repeated reframing of situations often framed as ‘obstacles to change,’ as valuable resources and opportunities to learn. Instead of merely giving lip service to complexity, Derby’s 7 Rules embraces it.” —Simon Bennett, Managing Principal, LASTing Benefits (UK and Australia)