Book of the Quarter: Deep Change, by Robert E. Quinn

Deep Change: discovering the leader within, by Robert E. Quinn, Copyright © 1996 by John Wiley & sons, Inc., New York, ISBN 0-7879-0244-6

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You can buy this book form Amazon: Deep Change, by Robert E. Quinn

The two books I’ve read by Robert Quinn are powerful. I checked on Amazon and found two others I’ve put on my wish list.
The first Book of the Quarter this year was Building the Bridge as You Walk on It.

These are business books. Notice how several of these quotes sound like church. Here are two principles from these books:

  • If you are responsible, honest, work with integrity, and do what’s best for the group, you will often be opposed and it will be painful. Sounds a lot like Luke 9:23, 24.
  • If you are irresponsible, play politics, try to please everyone, and resist growth, it will be painful. The second death will be slower. Many choose the slow death over meaningful, constructive, painful growth

The “mustard seeds” I highlighted:

Each of us has the potential to change the world. Because the price of change is so high, we seldom take on the challenge. Our fears blind us to the possibilities of excellence-and yet another formidable insight. This insight concerns the price of not making deep change. That price is the choice of slow death, a meaningless and frustrating experience enmeshed in fear, anger, and helplessness, while moving surely toward what is most feared (Kindle Locations 202-204).

We are energized when we are learning and progressing, and we begin psychologically to die when we allow ourselves to stagnate. That is where we encounter the process of slow death (Kindle Locations 436-437).

When we are disempowered, when we choose “peace and pay,” we do not create or attract mutually enhancing relationships. We are left to ourselves, depleted, tired, and disempowered (Kindle Locations 437-438).

Most of us have very high expectations of our leaders, and we are easily and quickly disillusioned by their failure to meet our expectations. We seldom, however, hold the same expectations for ourselves. We feel little responsibility to be the person who empowers self and, in so doing, empowers the surrounding community (Kindle Locations 452-454).

The hero’s journey is a story of individual transformation, a change of identity. In embarking on the journey, we must leave the world of certainty. We must courageously journey to a strange place where there are a lot of risks and much is at stake, a place where there are new problems that require us to think in new ways (Kindle Locations 468-470). Kindle Edition.

An invisible form of corruption at the top, the exercise of authority without concern or demand without out support, results in a very visible form of corruption at the bottom (Kindle Locations 509-510).

Denial is one of several clear paths toward slow death. When we practice denial, we work on the wrong solutions or on no solutions at all. The problem grows worse as we become discouraged, and our vitality level declines (Kindle Locations 516-517).

When an organization discovers that its systems need realignment, I am often asked to make a diagnosis. Senior executives seldom argue with my diagnosis, but they almost always argue with my recommendations. I am told, “What you don’t understand is that we don’t have the time to make the deep change you are recommending.” This statement is accurate. There is no time. In coming to such a conclusion, the executive is choosing task over maintenance. The executive is also, however, choosing a future crisis. Sooner or later a crisis will occur and a price will be paid (Kindle Locations 577-581).

Confronting our defense mechanisms leads to a necessary examination of self. To thwart our defense mechanisms and bypass slow death, we must confront first our own hypocrisy and cowardice. We must recognize the lies we have been telling ourselves. We must acknowledge our own weakness, greed, insensitivity, and lack of vision and courage. If we do so, we begin to understand the clear need for a course correction, and we slowly begin to reinvent our self. The transition is painful, and we are often hesitant, fearing that we lack the courage and confidence to proceed (Kindle Locations 733-736).

Organizational cultures tend to be like Joel Chandler Harris’s Tar Baby: Though culture is malleable, it is also very sticky and difficult to deal with. When a seemingly rational strategy conflicts with an existing set of implicit governing rules, little change occurs (Kindle Locations 874-876).

The problem is not “out there” but inside each one of us. The external “system” that we often complain about actually exists within each of us. Our concept of hierarchy is a product of the way we think. As rational beings and an important part of our organization’s systems, we continually propagate and preserve the structures of the various systems by our daily behavior (Kindle Locations 886-888).

We use our authority to cut off criticism rather than confront the facts that would suggest that we need to change (Kindle Locations 895-896).

The real problem is frequently located where we would least expect to find it, inside ourselves. Deep change requires an evaluation of the ideologies behind the organizational culture. This process happens only when someone one cares enough to exercise the courage to uncover the issues no one dares to recognize or confront. It means someone must be enormously secure and courageous. Culture change starts with personal change. We become change agents by first altering our own maps. Ultimately, the process returns us to the “power of one” and the requirement of aligning and empowering oneself before successfully changing the organization (Kindle Locations 908-911).

In internalizing the transformational paradigm, the leader becomes independent of the organization. The leader’s behavior is self-determined and self-authorizing, and the leader is attached to the organization by choice, not fear. By taking a moral position and pursuing what is right for the collective, other organizational members are motivated by the leader’s actions and power. They, too, are willing to take deep personal risks and follow their leader’s direction because the leader believes in the vision, to the point that personal failure, firing, or assassination is acceptable. Thus when organizational members see their leader “walking the walk and talking the talk,” they themselves are inspired to take significant risks for the good of the collective (Kindle Locations 1109-1113).

Self-authorizing people are rare but dramatic. One extraordinary middle manager, who had served as an expatriate in two different developing countries (not an unusual background for people who transition to the transformational paradigm), returned to corporate headquarters and shortly began to challenge some of the company’s most sacred doctrines. When told that his strategy was very risky, he replied, “If this company doesn’t want someone like me, it doesn’t deserve to have me.” In this instance, normal logic is inverted. Notice where the actual power lies (Kindle Locations 1114-1117).

In interviews, many of our participants mentioned the impact of a hierarchical management structure. One commented, “To get an initiative approved, five people must say yes. But to get it stopped, only one of the five has to say no.” Congruent with this notion is the fact that in many organizations, there is a tradition of change from the top down. Initiatives for change are perceived to originate only from top management.
Participants also told us that change in their organization could be dangerous. “If you fail, you’ll get punished.” This was a commonly held belief. They also told us, however, “If you succeed, you may get punished.” This latter statement surprised us and led us to further exploration.
Some people are “rewarded” for their success by being given additional work or by being seen as so indispensable to their unit that they cannot be promoted. Conversely, people can also be criticized or isolated by their peers or superiors. For example, in the blue-collar world, there is a well-known concept called the “rate buster phenomenon.” This phenomenon describes a situation where one member of a work group generates more product than everyone else and is pressured to slow down. A lower work rate typically follows. This phenomenon can also occur in the white-collar world. The consequence is that people throughout the workplace are forced to think carefully about the “cost of success.”
Our participants were also concerned about the absence of a vision. This complaint was directed at their individual work environment, not at the corporate level. Middle managers sometimes view their immediate bosses as politically oriented opportunists who convey no sense of commitment to any particular set of values. One day quality is sacred, the next day cost. If leadership means taking some risks and the values are always changing, how does a middle manager build a vision or direction for his or her own people? Working in such a confusing environment, it is difficult to know what to stand for (Kindle Locations 1135-1146).

I define a team as an enthusiastic set of competent people who have clearly defined roles, associated in a common activity, working cohesively in trusting relationships, and exercising personal discipline and making individual sacrifices for the good of the team. When a team exhibits these characteristics, it performs at levels that exceed organizational expectations. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. There is high-level cooperative interaction (Kindle Locations 1349-1351).

You can buy this book form Amazon: Deep Change, by Robert E. Quinn

Some links are affiliate links. We may get paid if you buy something or take action after clicking one of these

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Jerrie Barber
Servant of Jesus, husband to Gail, father to Jerrie Wayne Barber, II and Christi Parsons, grandfather, great-grandfather, Interim Preacher, Shepherd coach, Ventriloquist, barefoot runner, ride a cruiser bicycle

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