Straight out to bat, and I’m going to declare on this one – I love Bennett’s book. Having spent years with my sleeves rolled up and hands deep in the engine of change, every word he’s written speaks to me. He’s pragmatic, sensible, human and humorous about change, and it, combined, achieves the impossible – making me want to take part in a transformation process.
The book, Great Change, is focused on transformation, and it comes at it from every angle possible (do not underestimate me on this one). Bennett starts at the very top of the rollercoaster – zipping us through modern history and the impacting factors that make the current professional world so complex and so difficult to enact change through. It’s VERY comprehensive. Anyone who has read any of my other reviews will know I often call out books for being too skinny on key topics. Not this one. I’m pretty sure the index lists a kitchen sink (spoiler, it doesn’t… there’s no index).
If you are about to undertake change, pause, order and then read this book. If you are a day away from the start, ‘skip to the middle bit’ and dive into the practical advice and guidance. You may need to be selective, as Bennett burrows down into P&Ls, Cash Tax Rate, Business Processes – something for everyone. Above this, though, sits the real gold – the advice of someone who has been through countless transformations, and can give steer such as: ‘Make sure everyone has skin in the game’.
Alongside the advice sit the stories, and they are plentiful and varied. Some are short vignettes from the professional word, others are historical and military references. There’s a lot of learnings drawn from the world of martial arts (maybe a tad too much) – which Bennett concedes at the start of the book. They all combine to keep the reader interested and, mixed with the author’s engaging Australian language, it’s a book you look forward to picking up.
My only gripe… there has to be one in any review, it’s literary law… is the number of lists. There are a lot – in particular around the types of people that are involved in the theatre that is work. Yes, they are fun, but they take up pages, and I would rather have fewer that I can remember and replay authoritatively to audiences, than the number in there. It’s a small thing, and the rest of the book scoops this niggle of mine aside.
Practically, Bennett draws in a range of models and thinking to build some very practical approaches that blend the science and mechanics of change with the art of engagement and transformation. Because it’s comprehensive, you are granted access to a ‘soup to nuts’ process that draws in the tough stuff – restructures, redundancies, business model shifts – but blends them with the human elements that ensure people experience the change in ways that, whilst not wholly positive, feel equitable, caring and thought-through.
Don’t wing change alone. Lean on the experience, expertise and humour of Bennett to get you through unscathed and successful at the other side – digest the book, make notes from it and build your transformation plan using the backbone that Great Change gives you.
Chris Preston is a culture expert and one of the founding partners of The Culture Builders