The work for this book began a little over a decade ago, in the late 1990s, when, as members of a W. K. Kellogg Foundation–funded research consortium, my colleagues and I grappled with the particulars of making change—and more broadly, transformation—happen in organizations. Our discussions and research efforts ranged from the mundane to the deeply philosophical (read: What exactly is the difference between change and transformation, and do we really care?). Our group, a blended mix of practitioners and scholars, examined and wrestled with real unfolding change initiatives as a means to generate meaning and understand how ordinary people, in practice, make organizational change happen. Through this work, I became fascinated with the phenomenon of resistance to change efforts. Subsequently, two questions emerged as the key focus areas for my independent research efforts. (1) How do organizational leaders plan for and execute change initiatives? And more specifically: (2) How do change champions experience and successfully work through resistance as they make organizational change happen?
As our conversations progressed, we took a long walk through the literature to discover what others had said about organizational change and transformation. There is a great deal of writing around planning and implementation; and universities even offer certificate programs in project management and degrees in organizational development. Many authors espouse ideas about the different steps and stages that change entails or requires. There is no shortage of books proclaiming that one recipe or another is the “right” way for executives or champions to plan for change. Yet many warn that the incremental, stepwise strategies that have been accepted for decades are long past their prime (Alfred