What’s it about?

Every company goes through transitions. Those times will spell out success or failure for those not willing to embrace the change and continue on to find the value in what could be. Jeanie Duck worked at Boston Consulting Group for decades, and across her seasoned career, she saw many of these changes and what becomes of the winners and losers. More importantly, she saw (and actively drove) the specific steps to successful change.

She outlines the stages (via the metaphor of a big monster) that take place during reorganizations, mergers, and transformations in the corporate world. The specific dynamics of each company really determine who goes where and why, but Duck is more focused on the mental game that people play in times of great and inevitable (and often-denied) change. From before the change happens to after the change has taken place, this book takes on every perspective that leaders will encounter and should consider. Using two primary stories, and countless side examples, Duck navigates the journey and goes over each step’s importance, pitfalls, and key people.

Why should anyone read it?

The leaders involved in the change, specifically the ones driving that change, are the foundation that the new, transformed corporation that will ultimately surface. The power in this book is getting your mindset focused on what and who matters. Adopting the mindset to tackle big corporate change is not easy (hence the metaphor of the monster), but it can be done. In my research, the biggest failure is a person’s acceptance of a specific set of conditions. Applied here, someone in a leadership position grows too fond of the status quo and pushes change off. Additionally, Duck addresses how ‘followers’ play a vital role in transformation, which is another highly valued and underrated source of change management. Lastly, a powerful part of this book is the ability to build other leaders during the transition, as a single person will find it unbelievably difficult to take the entire process on by themselves. The work must be divided, and a leader should stand at the front of each part to champion its success.

Select Quotations

“Managing the monster requires a heightened sensitivity to the emotional and behavioral issues inherent during change, and a willingness to address them.”

“Getting people to recognize stagnation becomes more difficult when a workforce that is in denial is couple with a group of leaders who are loathe to declare the bad news.”

“It is rare for all of the leaders to be united, full committed, and energized all at the same time.”

“You sometimes have to use action to gain understanding and commitment, rather than starting with a base of understanding and expecting that it will lead to a willingness to act.”

“Believing that one’s own experience equals the reality is a triumph of the monster.”

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