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Significance of Organizational Change in Robbins' Awaken the Giant Within and Gladwell's What the Dog Saw

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I’ve been reading two books during the past couple of weeks, “Awaken the Giant Within” by Tony Robbins and “What the Dog Saw” by Malcolm Gladwell. Whenever I read a book, I read it with an eye towards lessons or insight I can use in organizational change. Robbins’ book is full of insight; Gladwell’s has its moments. These disparities of insight stem from the difference in construction and intent of the two books. Robbins wrote his book as a roadmap for helping individuals change; whereas, Gladwell’s book is a collection of his previously published articles. This makes Gladwell’s book somewhat disjointed in its flow. But what really sets the two books apart is how Gladwell does a great job presenting information, but fails to connect the stories with any insightful takeaways. So while there are a lot of “that’s interesting” moments, there aren’t many “ah ha” moments in his book. He merely tells a bunch of interesting, but loosely coupled stories that leaves you with an “interesting story, but so what?” feeling. Robbins, on the other hand, overwhelms you with insight. His stories are designed to give insight (and action plans) that leads to transformational change.

That being said, there are two essays in Gladwell’s book that are worth reading and thinking about with respect to the process of organizational change. These essays are “The Pitchman” about Ron Popeil and “What the Dog Saw” about Cesar Millian.

In the “Pitchman”, Popeil’s major premise is that -- first and foremost, the product has to be the star. The way I related this to organizational change is that the purpose for organizational change has to be the star. The purpose for change is everything. If people don’t understand the purpose for change, change will not o...


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...mmunicative intent. So the secret to Millan is his ability to phase – to communicate with the dogs in the language of posture and gesture. Likewise, one of the “secrets” of a leader is their ability to phase – to synchronize their posture with their intentions. Don’t ever underestimate subtle symbolic gestures. People are far more subliminally perceptive than you can ever imagine.

Phasing is a skill organizational change agents need to develop – they need to learn that the delivery of a message is as important as its content. If you want to motivate a group to bring about a substantive organizational change you have to be sincere, act with the organization’s best interest at heart, listen well, use phasing and establish a sense of presence -- because all eyes will be on you. The symbolism of your actions and movements can enhance or destroy your message and intent.


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