Need to know how to achieve your organisational change objectives? Not sure how to embrace new ways of dealing with change? Project management is all about change, and APM's Directing agile change is an excellent 'how-to' guide, along with a number of inspirational reads below.
The little black book of change
Authors: Paul Adams and Mike Straw
This book is a straightforward guide to change management. Broken down into seven practical steps, it aims to help business leaders and project managers achieve organisational change objectives, from improving service levels to cost reductions, innovation and increasing market share.
Authors Paul Adams and Mike Straw clearly have decades of experience in change management, and this resonates through the writing. This book is more than an introduction to change; it feels like you are sitting across the table from them to learn about the discipline.
Formatted in an easy-to-read way – which includes key takeaways at the end of each chapter, real-life case studies and comparative lists between types of organisations – The Little Black Book of Change is grounded and accessible. This was one of the key things that makes the book so enjoyable: it is not based on pure theory, but on real business case studies, which helps the reader to understand how change is implemented from a practical perspective.
Reviewed by Jason Hesse
The light and fast organisation: A new way of dealing with uncertainty
Author: Patrick Hollingworth
Two words in the title of this book say it all – ‘light’ and ‘fast’. Despite having 224 pages, this book will provide you with a light read, and you will read it very fast. You will not want to put it down.
Patrick Hollingworth, an experienced climber, does a great job of translating his passion and knowledge of mountains into a business setting. The book draws an interesting comparison between ‘alpine’ and ‘expedition’ styles, suggesting that taking a light and fast approach – like alpinists – is more effective than a heavy, slow approach, which is typical of mountain expeditions.
The same logic can be applied to the context of business, where it’s easy to find companies that have become ponderous, sluggish behemoths, with complex structures and several layers of governance. They are following an expedition approach. But in a world of constant change, if you want to reach the summit, you need agility. In project management, too, faster, more agile methods have become the new trend that all companies want to follow.
The Light and Fast Organisation offers a fresh and sometimes provocative take on business, calling for a new approach to risk and uncertainty management. It illustrates how others have gone light and fast, and provides a practical approach on how to become more self-aware and more resilient to setbacks. This book explains how you, too, can become an alpinist.
Reviewed by Marisa Silva
The social project manager
Author: Peter Taylor
Having read other books by Peter Taylor, I opened this book with high expectations – and I was not disappointed. The book is about change. Although it is an uncomfortable practice for some, project practitioners must consider and embrace new ways to deliver change.
Taylor takes an informal approach to explaining how change comes about and how it affects users. It is this approach that makes me believe that he is, in fact, a good change manager himself – one who can break down the complexities and make them manageable and less scary for aspiring project professionals.
The book takes a thesis approach to format, with many quotations and references. At first, I found this a little tedious. However, for those that require definitions without going away and reading an entirely different text, these citations could prove rather useful.
Each section of the book is rounded off with a useful, short case study, which puts the theory into a relatable scenario. Linking back to previous practices versus newer suggestions also helps the reader to recognise the need for change.
My only reservation is perhaps around the deep dives into the tools and governance, which I didn’t feel were that necessary. The work around the social element and the need for it is well executed, though, and I would have relished a little more depth around this.
Reviewed by Nicola Caswell-Thorp
Author: APM Governance Specific Interest Group
Directing Agile Change is a ‘how-to’ guide targeted at professionals at senior management level who are new to agile ways of working and project delivery, but are accountable for their success. Divided into five main sections, the book introduces agile concepts, principles and myths in straightforward language and without complex jargon. It also provides easy-to-follow governance checklists applicable to relevant roles.
The latest offering to be published by the APM Governance Specific Interest Group (SIG), Directing Agile Change was compiled by SIG members Brian Wernham, Adrian Pyne, Roger Garrini and Martin Samphire. It written at a very high level and introduces concepts only very briefly to the audience. However, this approach is highly appropriate for people who engage at a higher level.
This book will benefit those who operate at board or steering-committee level, rather than project managers, who should be working at a much more detailed level. This book can be bought from the APM online book shop.
Reviewed by Premanand Doraiswamy