Tag Archives: change management

The Three Primary Derailers (for a business, and an individual) – these can really bring you down {more insight from Susan Scott’s Fierce Leadership}

(A note from Randy:  it is common to see me “revisiting” points from books, or the books themselves, on this blog.  This is partly due to the fact that I present my synopses of some of these books multiple times.  And sometimes, the books have enough different points, and are just that good, that I keep thinking of new points to blog about.  Well, Fierce Leadership is just that good, and I keep thinking of new points to blog about.  So – here goes).


What will knock a company, or a person, off their game, and may lead to serious failure?  In Fierce Leadership, Susan Scott identifies “three primary derailers:”

1)  difficulty handling change

2)  not being able to work well in a team

3)  poor interpersonal relations

I think she is right.  Throughout the years of the First Friday Book Synopsis, change management and innovation rise to the top of the list of themes covered by the best business books.  And the evidence is clear that not playing well with others/inability to work well in a team is a killer – thus the continuing popularity and value of Patrick Lencioni’s The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.  And as Susan Scott herself says, “your most valuable currency is relationship, emotional capital.”

How are you doing in these three areas?

And, here is my opinion – nobody actually likes to change, so difficulty handling change may be the most difficult one to fix.

The other two are “fixable” – but you really, really have to work at cultivating interpersonal relationship skills.

We do not and will not get better by accident – we have to work at it.

Making the M in Merger as Real as the A in Acquisition

Cheryl offers: As practitioners of change leadership, our focus is not so much on the change management process itself as on what kind of leader is required to really create change that lasts. We love John P. Kotter’s book, The Heart of Change because it touches all aspects of change, including the need to get employees emotionally invested to create the energy needed to change. With the new “normal” of our economy, one thing I fear will not change is that as markets dictate consolidation, the percentage of Merger and Acquisition failures will remain constant. You see, acquisition happens. One company is bought by another. Seldom does a merger happen.  Oh, assets get combined, leadership is chosen and redundancies eliminated; and the real heart of change that makes M&A’s worth the price  paid is the MERGER of cultures. Most leaders pay more attention to the organization chart, press releases, and employment contracts than the real need to enroll employees in the changes. The fact is, about 70% of mergers and acquisitions fail.  Almost 100% of the failures can be traced to not asking everyone to pay equal attention to the M as well as the A. Communication is the leadership’s responsibility in times of change; it becomes their legacy.

Sara adds: I was with IBM when it acquired Lotus.  I coached a number of people on the Lotus development team and was struck by how victimized they felt.  The acquisition had occurred, but for them, there was no merger.  In the shadow of those memories, I  turned to Adam Kahane, author of Solving Tough Problems .  Kahane is known for his work in helping create unity in places like South Africa.  He states, “There are two ways to unstick a stuck problem.  The first is for one side to act unilaterally – to try imposing a solution by force or violence.”  That’s how I read the press release in mergers like IBM acquiring Lotus or Oracle acquiring Sun Microsystems.  Kahane goes on to add, “The second way to unstick a problem is for the actors to start to talk and listen in order to find a way forward together.”   My opinion?   Acquisitions are financial agreements to acquire assets; mergers require people to work with other people intentionally and creatively.