Reviews of the best organization transformation books and articles

good reads

This Good Reads section highlights books, articles, and other published materials by authors that TLO believes will enhance your understanding of key organization transformation issues. In particular, this section features research published by social scientists and practitioners who are developing new ways of supporting and encouraging transformative organization change. It highlights books and articles published by authors who explain and analyze the nature, components, and change dynamics of these types of organizational transformations.

Over time, featured material will also include work published by practitioners who've written about their ways of thinking about organization transformation. These books and articles will emphasize the ideas of those practitioners who are encouraging senior leaders and regular employees to reframe their habitual modes of thinking, feeling, and acting in response to the disruptive technologies and radical innovations that currently are challenging them and their organizations..


Beyond Performance 2.0: A Proven Approach to Leading Large-Scale Change
Scott Keller & Bill Schaninger

In 1996, John Kotter published his best-selling book Leading Change. In it he reported that only 30 percent of all organizational change programs succeed. As an antidote, he offered an eight-step process designed for organizational executives who were interested in managing their organizations’ change efforts. The popularity of his work triggered an explosion of thinking. In the 15 years that followed, thousands of change management books were published, and hundreds of business schools built change management into their curricula, and many organizations created change-management functions. By 2011, when the first version of Beyond Performance was published, it was expected that the success rates for large-sale organizational change efforts would be much higher that they were in 1966. But, the fact is, multiple studies, including one by McKinsey & Company, showed that the odds of leading a successful change program remained unchanged. The field of change management, despite its prolific output, hadn’t improved success rates. 

By 2016, five years after Beyond Performance was published, enough time had passed that the efficacy of the approach that Kelller and Schaniger detailed in their book could be tested to discover if their approach in fact was helping leaders beat history’s 30 percent odds of change success. In 2016 McKinsey published their global survey of 1,713 executives who had been part of at least one large-scale change program. The sample represented a full range of regions, industries, company sizes, functional specialties, and tenures. The results spoke for themselves: 79 percent of those organizations that fully implemented the Five Frames of Performance and Health methodology reported their change programs were successful. Beyond Performance 2.0 describes these results in useful detail.

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The Fearless Organization: Creating Psychological safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation, and Growth
Amy Edmondson

We all know that people hold back when they feel threatened, when they conclude that it is not in their best interests to contribute—to say what they think. As a result of this interpersonal fear, we miss the benefit of the very minds we are relying on to move us forward. Creating psychological safety is essential in a world where innovation, integrity, and renewal can make the difference between success and failure. In The Fearless Organization, Amy Edmondson explains what psychological safety is and what it isn’t and how we can create in our organizations. We all—most of us—manage our image. Some better than others. But, as Amy says…

No one wakes up in the morning excited to go to work and look ignorant, incompetent, or disruptive. These are called interpersonal risks, and they are what nearly everyone seeks to avoid, bit always consciously. In fact, most of us want to look smart, capable, or helpful in the eyes of others. No matter what our line of work, status, or gender, all of us learn how to manage interpersonal risk early in life.

And it is this fear we have of looking bad or of being the target of retribution that organizations must learn how reduce or eliminate if their leader are ever going to help their employees bring their best to work. Psychological safety is not about taking all of the bumps and ruts out of the road (which sadly is becoming more and more prevalent in leadership thought today). Psychological safety is like the oil in the machine. It makes everything else you’re doing work better. It is an enabler. “Psychological safety makes it possible for other drivers of success (talent, ingenuity, diversity of thought) to be expressed in ways that influence how work gets done.” Without it, people will withhold thoughts, ideas, and contributions that are vital to your growth, renewal, and the overall health of your organization. It’s in the environment that organizations themselves begin to wither and fail.

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Organization Transformation: A Change Management Approach
Dave Nicoll, Ph.D.

Organization Transformation (OT) is a new field. Both in terms of theory and practice. The first organization transformation symposium was held in New Hampshire in 1984. The first big book on Organization Transformation was Amir Levy's and Uri Merry's, Organizational Transformation: Approaches Strategies, Theories, published in 1986. Another early study was Kochan's and Useeem's Transforming Organizations, published in 1992. Nadler, Shaw, and Wilson published, Discontinuous Change: Leading Organizational Transformation in 1995.


Early on, Organization Transformation was a diverse discipline, clearly comfortable with a disparate set of theories, and a similarly wide ranging set of interventions that described various way of going about implementing and Organization Transformation effort. For instance, Levy and Merry, in their textbook, identified six different OT theories. Kochan and Useem, in 24 chapters, described OT as being everything from strategic restructuring to new process technology to an effort designed to produce "learning organizations." Nadler, Shaw, and Wilson, in their book, likewise saw OT as a diverse set of theories, suggesting there were at least five different OT "leverage points" that could effect an organization transformation. 

In 1986, Levy and Merry described the OT field this way;  "...there has not been, as yet, any comprehensive publication covering the field..."

Available @

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Three Horizons: The Patterning of Hope

bill sharpe

In one sense, Three Horizons: The Patterning of Hope is business book about a simple framework for thinking about the future. At its simplest, "Three Horizons" offers a new visual tool for understanding three sequential business patterns that play out over time.

But this book is about more than simply stretching out your thinking to embrace short, medium, and long term views of the future so that senior executives can have a coordinated way of managing innovation. In his book, Bill Sharpe introduces the Three Horizons framework as a prompt for developing a ‘future consciousness’ – a rich and multi-faceted perspective of the future potential of the present moment. It explores how to put that awareness to work to create the present realities that we, right now, can only aspire to. By showing us how the future exists in the present, Three Horizons offers a way of creating transformational change that has a chance of succeeding, a way of dealing with uncertainty because it offers a viable way of seeing the future in the present.


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Exploring how living systems change

Amanda Fenton

Amanda Fenton is an organizational coach and consultant who teaches, designs, and hosts conversations for groups who want to work together in more collaborative ways. Within this framework, she works with clients to design and host community conversations, retreats and longer-term change projects. 

As Amanda explains in the first sentence of her article, "Exploring How Living Systems Change," this is about the Berkana Institute's Two Loop Theory of Transformation. The Two Loop Theory of Transformation, at its core, is a map and a model that tells the story of how organizations, as organic systems, simultaneously die and emerge while they're being transformed. Organization transformation, in this story, is a set of paradoxical and improbable processes that happen at every scale. The Two Loop theory, for Amanda, is a "map of ideas, a map of life, of a family, of a community, of an organization or large systems...It works on all kinds of levels.

It has two lines – but they're not linear timelines. More like a top map.....

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Reinventing the Company in the Digital Age


At this point in history we are witness to a fresh acceleration of dramatic technological changes in a variety of companies, sectors and industries. So much so that this period in time is being called the era of “Big Data.” It’s being hailed as the next Technological Revolution.

The Spanish bank BBVA (Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria) is very much a global leader in this new era of digital transformations. In 2014 BBVA received a Euromoney global award for that year’s Best Bank Transformation. Immediately after receiving this award, BBVA named its digital banking head Carlos Torres Vila

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The Necessary Nature of Future Firms
Attributes of Survivors in a Changing World

George Huber

For George Huber, it's definitely time for us to update our beliefs and theories about the ways we think senior executives should do business in today's post-modern world. It's long past time for us to reframe the ways we think about the issues and problems challenging today's corporations. Simply put, Dr.Huber thinks the ways in which we understand the role of senior executives and their corporations in today's world are both anachronistic and obsolete. For Dr. Huber, it is time for us to dramatically transform and restructure our corporations.

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