In 2010, Wiley published your first book, Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire: A Roadmap to a Sustainable Culture of Ingenuity and Purpose. And, just this week, your newest book published by Palgrave Macmillan, Charting Change: A Visual Toolkit for Making Change Stick is on the market for hardcover sales with an ebook version coming soon.
Does your second book build upon the first? If so, how?
The genesis for my first book, Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire, appeared when it became quite clear that everybody was talking about innovation, everyone wanted it, but nobody could agree on what it was and leaders were finding it incredibly hard to achieve, especially on a repeated basis. So the intention for the first book was to help organizations:
1. Identify and remove barriers to innovation
2. Establish a common language for innovation
3. Leave behind a burning platform, project-based approach to innovation
4. Build the foundations necessary to create a continuous innovation capability
During the writing of the first book I did uncover the seeds for the second book, that innovation is all about change, but the seeds weren’t ready and I wasn’t ready to plant them. A few years later, a return to the corporate world and the bureaucracy of the health insurance ecosystem quickly fixed that.
Thanks to the thousands of people who have already purchased a copy of Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire, I have traveled the world as a popular innovation keynote speaker,
workshop leader, and masterclass instructor committed to making innovation less confusing and more accessible. My focus has been on empowering people with easy-to-access frameworks and an understanding that everyone has a role to play in innovation. Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire was so successful because it also serves as a great innovation primer for people looking to start an innovation program, or to identify and overcome barriers to innovation that their current innovation efforts are encountering.
But it wasn’t until I took on a full-time job again that it became clear that in much the same way that everyone had been talking about innovation but didn’t know where to begin, people were facing the same challenge with organizational change. My new book Charting Change builds upon the first from the standpoint that if your organization is bad at planning and executing change, it is going to fail at innovation. True innovation always creates change for the organization inside and out, and as they say “failing to plan, is planning to fail.”
What prompted you to write Charting Change?
What prompted me to write Charting Change is this realization that effective planning and execution of change is one of the keys to successful innovation at scale, and that efficient planning and execution of change is the only way for organizations to increase their agility enough to cope with the accelerating pace of change we face in society today. And given the 70% change failure rate found by several independent studies, it seemed like there was a real opportunity to make a positive contribution to organizations around the world.
But even with this realization I didn’t set out to write a book. No, as I looked out at the horizon and the reality of change and how incredibly confusing, complex, and overwhelming the idea of planning a change must feel to most people, what I saw was a lack of tools capable of humanizing a process that is ultimately all about people.
I saw people writing about leading change or about managing it, but I couldn’t find a set of tools to help successfully plan change efforts or build a continuous change capability. So, I decided to build one.
The realization that there were no good tools for planning change in the marketplace, and the growing need for organizations to make planning and executing continuous change a core competency of their organization, and yes a competitive differentiator, led to the creation of the Change Planning Toolkit™.
And as I created the Change Planning Toolkit™, which now is home to more than fifty frameworks, worksheets and other tools (including the Change Planning Canvas™), it became clear that a book was necessary to:
1. Serve as a guide to using the toolkit
2. Share some of the change best practices I identified in my research
3. Highlight a couple of really good case studies
4. Bring in some fresh thinking from a handful of guest experts
In the same way I sought to make innovation insights accessible with Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire, my intention with Charting Change is to make the successful planning and execution of organizational change more accessible as well (including digital transformations).
Did you gain new insights writing the book that caused you to include something new that you hadn’t originally planned?
I gained several new insights, but the most interesting thing that happened as I was writing the book was that the toolkit continued to grow. What at first I thought was complete, continued to grow in scope and value as one original insight spawned another during the writing process.
This included very early on identifying that every project changes something and so ultimately every project is a change effort. Any tool designed to help people more successfully plan and execute change must therefore be equally well suited to contribute to the planning of a digital transformation, merger, or acquisition as it is able to add value to the planning of a project.
Therefore change management is not a subset of project management, but the other way around. That is not how most people think about it or how most authors write about it, but I believe this to be true. Another key insight that emerged during the writing of the book is that agility and flexibility are not the same thing, and that too much flexibility can in fact inhibit or reduce your organizational agility.
The book therefore contains an exploration of several aspects of what agile change might look like and how we might be able to increase our organizational agility and to measure and improve our time to transform, which I like to call the Triple T Metric. There were many other insights that emerged during the writing process and resulted in the creation of new tools for the Change Planning Toolkit™ and new paragraphs for Charting Change, but you’ll have to buy the book to see them.
Why are the change tools, frameworks and methods outlined in the book likely to help accelerate change in an organization?
The power of the change approach laid out in Charting Change and supported by the frameworks, worksheets and other tools in the Change Planning Toolkit™ are that they enable people to break the inertia helps to delay the changes organizations often desperately need. They help organizations move from thinking about change to proactively gathering the right people together to work together and naturally accumulate the necessary buy-in and alignment as the team collaborates together to visualize the current state, the future state, and the journey from one to the other.
The Change Planning Canvas™ provides a focal point for the group’s work with the Change Planning Toolkit™ and helps to keep everyone aligned as change execution and adoption moves forward. And, as usage of the Change Planning Toolkit™ spreads across the organization, the agility of the organization, it’s time to transform (measured using the Triple-T Metric), and its pace of creating and absorbing change will accelerate. As change success increases and toolkit adoption increases, the organization’s desire for change will increase too because people will feel that successful planning and execution of change is something they can do. And they can!
How would you like others to use this book?
My first book Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire was intended to help organizations identify and remove barriers to innovation and I had the opportunity to travel the world and do keynote speeches and workshops with great organizations like BASF, AB Inbev, Microsoft, the US Navy and others. But Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire also ended up being a really good innovation primer because it lays out a roadmap for building a continuous innovation capability within an organization. As a result companies have purchased the book in bulk for their executives, managers, and employees and universities have picked it up as a course book.
Charting Change however, has been designed from the very beginning to be an educational tool based on more than twenty years of research and observations surrounding the topics of organizational psychology, innovation, social business, digital transformation, visualization, collaboration, and organizational change. It’s designed to help leaders and educators change how we plan and execute change in our organizations in order to cope with the accelerating pace of change in our society.
In the book I capture some of the best practices of those who have come before me, highlight useful tools, frameworks and methodologies from others in the areas of behavior change and change leadership, and add some of my own to the conversation (including the Change Planning Toolkit™).
I’ve created ten free downloads to give people a flavor for some of what’s in the Change Planning Toolkit™ (and which I encourage everyone to get), and have created a very affordable individual educational license and site licenses for the toolkit so people can get access to all 50+ frameworks, worksheets and other tools without breaking their budget. And of course, people who purchase the book will get access to 26 of the tools (11”x17” versions) including the Change Planning Canvas™, with poster size versions available with a site license (35”x56” versions ).
So I hope people will get the free downloads, I hope people will get a copy of the book and use it to learn one or more new ways to look at planning and executing change, and then use it to teach others that change doesn’t have to be scary, doesn’t have to be something that’s resisted, but instead is something that we can all successfully plan and execute in a more visual, more collaborative, and more human way. I hope people will get a copy of the book, review it on Amazon or their favorite book site, and share Charting Change with a friend!
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Braden Kelley is a popular innovation speaker, builds sustainable innovation cultures, and tools for creating successful change. He is the author of the five-star book Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire and the creator of the revolutionary new Change Planning Toolkit™. Follow him on Twitter (@innovate) and Linkedin.
Mari Anixter is the Managing Editor for Innovation Excellence. Based in Chicago, she serves as digital editor, director of community, and content strategist for the global Innovation Excellence community. Please follow @mari_IX and @IXchat