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Terms of Engagement: Changing the Way We Change Organizations [Hardcover]

Richard H Axelrod
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 1 2000
Terms of Engagement introduces a new method for changing organizations based on four essential principles: Widening the Circle of Involvement, Connecting People to Each Other and Ideas, Creating Communities for Action, and Embracing Democratic Principles. This method enables leaders to create the energetic, flexible, responsive organizations necessary to thrive and prosper in the contemporary business world.

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"Axelrod defines four leadership challenges that must be met if an organization is to deal with the dramatic changes that are our ongoing reality: widening the circle of involvement, connecting people to each other and ideas, creating communities for action, and embracing democratic principles. Facing these challenges will require changea different kind of change. Through real life examples and provocative writing he provides the reader an opportunity to become an active participant in that different kind of change. The change that will energize an organization to new levels of performance and satisfaction." -- Rich Teerlink, former Chairman, Harley Davidson

"Dick Axelrod his given us a mandate for the next millennium: We need to change the way we change organizations. The new 'engagement' paradigm that Dick challenges us to embrace is effectively demonstrated in numerous real life examples. The book is enhanced by guiding principles, graphics, and summaries at the end of each chapter. This is a 'must' book for anyone leading organizational change." -- T. Alban and Barbara Benedict Bunker, coauthors of Large Group Interventions

"Over the years, I've learned a great deal from Dick Axelrod about how to truly engage people in creating real organizational change. I'm so grateful that he has taken the time to convey his experience and wisdom. The learnings in this book are essential for us to understand in these times of relentless change." -- Margaret Wheatley, author of Leadership and the New Science and coauthor of A Simpler Way

"Terms of Engagement is an exciting new contribution to the field of organizational change. Axelrod provides leaders with a coherent set of principles for addressing business and social issues instead of tired techniques. Balanced, compelling, smoothly blending theory with practical examples, Terms of Engagement is a must-read." -- Hideo Murakami, Senior, Vice President, Queen Emma Foundation

"Terms of Engagement provides a roadmap for creating meaningful, repeatable and sustainable change. After reading Terms of Engagement and having participated in the conference model, I am convinced that real engagement is the key to unleashing the most powerful resource we have, our fellow employees." -- Jim Maynor, President and CEO, The Money Store

About the Author

Richard H. Axelrod helped revolutionize the world of organizational change when, together with his wife Emily, he developed the Conference Model, a process for engaging the entire organization in system-wide change. He is currently working with Peter Block and the Association for Quality and Participation to develop the School for Managing, an innovative approach to management education.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Enlightened Self-Interest May 24 2001
Format:Hardcover
Is change failing? Are multiple leaders' initiatives foundering? Is vast energy being expended on change projects by roving teams of the best and the brightest? Maybe the approach is all wrong. Maybe you need ... more people.
So argues Richard Axelrod, democrat and change consultant. Believing that current change practices are too slow and bureaucratic, Axelrod asserts that there simply isn't enough engagement. In other words, after forty years in the business world - a world in which "it sometimes seems as if everything is changing at the speed of light" - the author has concluded that change efforts fail when people don't feel involved.
Whether this is a brilliant insight or a beacon of the trite and obvious is for the reader to determine. In the meantime, consider Axelrod's "engagement paradigm": widen involvement, connect people, create communities, and embrace democracy. All laudable in theory, and the author goes to great lengths to prove that such an approach doesn't cost or waste or confuse as much as a skeptic might imagine. But what does it mean? Larger meetings, fine, open-ended questions, certainly, flip charts and round tables, marvelous, but do these a paradigm make? When you look for details here you find yourself grasping at shadows. Ask for a specific action and Axelrod recommends "creating a compelling purpose." Some might find this a little vague.
Yet lying beneath the misty surface are basic assumptions, assumptions about pluralism and democracy all the more intriguing for remaining untested. Axelrod asserts for example that in large group change meetings, individuals frequently set aside their self-interest for the benefit of the organization. Perhaps, but couldn't we look to our founding fathers for another explanation?
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4.0 out of 5 stars Insightful! May 8 2001
Format:Hardcover
Richard H. Axelrod presents a model for creating more effective change in an organization by involving everyone in the change process from the beginning. He suggests setting up large conferences with cross-functional, multidisciplinary planning and implementation groups. As this implies, he advocates combining planning and implementation, rather than creating parallel processes. He argues that the top-down approach of having a leader who sells a vision to the organization doesn't work, although the leader should be involved in the conference process. It seems shortsighted to dismiss visionary leadership, with its successful track record in various settings, yet Axelrod has organized his ideas clearly. He provides tools for using his approach, including anecdotal success stories, how-to inserts, and guidelines for following this process. His model shares some characteristics of other conference planning approaches, including "Future Search." However, we [...] recommend this engagingly written book for its appeal to executives and top managers who seek intriguing planning and change strategies.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The "Maximum Engagement" Change Model Dec 9 2000
By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
I first experienced this change model as a young management consultant in the late 1960s, and was overwhelmed by its effectiveness then. Over the years, I have made this approach a central tenet of how I work with client organizations and our own. Richard Axelrod's book is the best description I have seen to date of the key elements of this model and the reasons why they work. I heartily endorse that you become familiar with this book, which will undoubtedly be a standard reference for many years to come. I was particularly pleased to see how well he has combined the perspectives of many other business and nonbusiness thinkers in this area.
The key challenge to successful change is in communication. Everyone agrees on that from Axelrod to Bob Kaplan to John Kotter. The four-aspect model here is particularly well designed to overcome communication stalls and miscommunications. These aspects are widening the circle of involvement to get more ideas from more people (this is a corollary to the key observations of complexity science for self-organizing order at the boundaries of systems), connecting people to each other (in order to drop barriers to communication), creating communities for action (by establishing a mutual purpose and direction), and embracing our social concepts of democratic treatment of all (to overcome skepticism about the authenticity of engagement potential).
By way of analogy consider the writing of the original Constitution of the United States. How would this have worked out if George Washington had simply dictated what he wanted? As you can imagine, there is no way that George Washington could have come up with that document by himself. Well, that's the way most organizations try to make changes.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An Ideal Road Map for School Change Nov. 19 2000
Format:Hardcover
Richard Axelrod has finally moved beyond the paradigm for change that has dominated this field for the last two decades. The inherent weaknesses of the current model are exposed. The four leadership challenges Axelrod defines if an organization is to cope with ongoing change: widening the circle of involvement, connecting people to each other and ideas, creating communities for action, and embracing democratic principles, are ideal for school communities. Through real life examples and clear writing he provides readers models of how they might contribute their multiple perspectives and skills to change in their schools.
If readers can connect Axlerod's insights with Senge's new book, "Schools that Learn," they will have superb guidance on how their schools might be redesigned to meet the needs of a new age.
I am the Director of Faculty Development at a Jesuit high school in San Francisco. We are currently using Axlerod's model with great success.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A New Paradigm for Organizational Change
In his Foreword, Axelrod asserts that his "is the first book to challenge the widely accepted change management paradigm. Read more
Published on Nov. 4 2000 by Robert Morris
5.0 out of 5 stars "Must" reading for anyone working in our globalized economy.
Organizational change advocate Richard Axelrod challenges the commonly accepted change management paradigm in Terms Of Engagement: Changing The Way We Change Organizations. Read more
Published on July 4 2000 by Midwest Book Review
5.0 out of 5 stars Change that doesn't create resistance!
I've been consulting for organization change for 20 years from small human service agencies to the Boeing Company. Terms of Engagement is a real winner. Read more
Published on May 18 2000 by Samuel P. Magill
5.0 out of 5 stars A provocative new book
In this book, Dick Axelrod takes a provocative look at how change management consulting is often done in organizations today, how it frequently misses the mark and why. Read more
Published on May 13 2000 by Rosemarie Barbeau
5.0 out of 5 stars It Works !
Have you ever been a part or a victim of a failed change initiative? Have you witnessed resentment or cynicism over change strategies where a new process was created by a... Read more
Published on May 6 2000 by Meredith Nahm
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful, Practical, Innovative
It's very seldom I find a professional development book I can't put down. Terms of Engagement is such a book. Read more
Published on May 2 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful, Practical, Innovative
It's very seldom I find a professional development book I can't put down. Terms of Engagement is such a book. Read more
Published on May 2 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful, Practical, Innovative
It's very seldom I find a professional development book I can't put down. Terms of Engagement is such a book. Read more
Published on May 2 2000 by Nancy S. Voss
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