January 2019
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TD Magazine

Make the Most of Change

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Leading Transformation: How to Take Charge of Your Company's Future


By Nathan Furr, Kyle Nel, and Thomas Zoëga Ramsøy
Harvard Business Review Press, 256 pp., $32

Change is difficult, frequently fails, and often results in division. Leading Transformation offers an alternative approach for organizations undergoing major change. Each uniquely qualified professional brings a different discipline from his work to the forefront in this book. Self-described as a manager, scientist, and professor, respectively, Furr, Nel, and Ramsøy offer a fascinating perspective on something we all face daily.

Their model includes three distinct processes. The first is "strategic narrative," which maps out the future in detail. Their preferred medium is comic books, which inspire readers, challenge belief structures, and even encompass a tad of superhero humor while focusing on the exciting potential for change. The second process employed is "breaking bottlenecks," which includes examining organizational patterns of interaction, habits, and assumptions while challenging commonly held views through decision mapping. One particularly interesting aspect of this process includes looking at archetypes (roles people play and how they are observed in their work). The authors' 12-character archetype model is one of the immediately useful tools they offer. Understanding the roles our leaders and colleagues adopt can be quite eye-opening and insightful.

The final process uses the future vision defined in the initial phase and addresses what the authors label as "the artifact trail"—what constitutes progressive, small wins—leading to the creation of "future key performance indicators."

The authors' three disciplines enable them to interject interesting new research findings, reinforcing their premise that organizations can envision an amazingly different and innovative future using new or different tools while working with different partners. In their model, this equates to taking charge of the future created outside of the myopia that often binds organizations or teams. The examples they include are large, multinational companies (IKEA, Lowes, Yamada, and BevMo!). They offer the bold promise that "This book is about taking charge of your future."


Full adoption of the methodology requires specialized talent (science fiction writers, illustrators, data scientists, and change masters) coupled with time. This is not a process for the faint of heart, small re-engineering initiatives, nor one where cost consciousness is the guiding principle. This model addresses visionary, truly disruptive levels of change that have the potential of shaking the core values and even market orientation of a company.

Even those without the prerequisites required to adopt the Leading Transformation model will find the book engaging, challenging, and thought-provoking. Consider taking this on your next flight—it will keep you entertained and be a good use of time.

About the Author

Jeanette Winters is a results-driven people professional passionate about combining culture, innovation, leadership, and inclusiveness to create learning and work experiences people love. Her initiatives are built on data and scientifically validated methods and practices. She strives to enable organizations to align business and talent strategies to achieve desired results. “Dr. J” has a well-established track record of designing and implementing world-class solutions in challenging global environments resulting in performance and productivity improvements. As chief talent officer at Parrish Partners, she provides organizations with customized learning, strategic consulting, and executive coaching.

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