The Little Black Book of Change

Paul Adams & Mike Straw

Published by






Reviewed by

Dean Burnell MBCS


7 out of 10

This book is a light abstract distillation of Business Change best practice offered by two change experts, drawn from their experience of working with a wide range of organisations over the last 20 years. As the title suggests, it is little, only 136 pages.

The book offers insights, guidance and thought-provoking reflection regarding the the best way to achieve and embed transformational change, centred around 7 fundamental shifts:-

  1. Letting go of the past.
  2. Developing breakthrough ambition.
  3. Creating a bold new ambition of the future.
  4. Engaging the players in the bold new future.
  5. Cutting through the DNA.
  6. Keeping the organisation future focused.
  7. Gaining energy from setbacks.

The book dedicates a chapter to each of the shifts, and includes real world examples from a fairly wide range of business contexts.

I particularly liked the example provided at the end of the book which served to describe all the shifts in a single example through the description of a merger of international organisations and their attempt during a workshop to create a world record for the most people who could sit on the floor crossed legged, and then stand-up simultaneously!. This description served (for me at least) to bring the shifts to life more effectively than the earlier examples.

I suspect that anyone working in change will recognise many of the challenges highlighted in the book and will benefit from the analogies and insights it provides.

Although the book provides a good description of the shifts necessary to implement change effectively, I felt it was both a little light in terms of providing actual guidance on how to achieve them, and it didn’t adequately consider some of the possible alternate outcomes of the behaviours it advocates, for example, it’s all well and good to encourage a bold vision, but this must be backed-up by (at least) a fairly rigorous understanding of achievability and risk. 

These points aside, this book is a worthwhile read, good value for money and will be welcomed by change practitioners seeking to consolidate their understanding of the change process

Further information: Wiley

April 2016