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Managing change.

Change in organizations can be frustrating, difficult, and painful. It's also necessary. As financial leaders, we must balance the human element of change with analytical requirements. The Pivot Point: Success in Organizational Change, by the father-daughter team James and Victoria Grady, gives financial leaders a parable-based look at how people respond to change.

The book's introduction immediately details a telling statistic: 68% of organizational change initiatives fail. That sobering statistic leads to several factors that affect employees who are part of change efforts:

* Change is out of their control.

* Employees are pressured to change without feeling valued.

* Employees can feel distrust toward the organization.

* Employees feel like they're only resources or tools to make the change happen.

Unlike most organizational leadership books, The Pivot Point was written as a parable that focuses on six people stuck at a Washington, D.C., hotel conference as a hurricane passes through:

* Dr. Bankston, a university professor and author who was scheduled to speak at the conference before the hurricane canceled it;

* Jake, an IT director for a government agency;

* Liz, a medical director at a hospital;

* Joan, a rising star in a small business;

* Edward, a young project manager; and

* Hilde, a German operations executive in a business where the owner may retire soon.

The group members represent the different challenges and fears people experience during major organizational change efforts. The individuals face their own fears and uncertainties within their own organizations. Even if you haven't faced these specific situations, they're undoubtedly familiar. The Pivot Point is such a good read on change management because you can put yourself in the characters' shoes and ask how you would handle your own situation and why.

After getting stuck at the hotel during the storm, Bankston leads his five participants through a variety of readings and interpretations to identify the key factor that impacts change projects: attachment. This insight really struck me because I've been part of several software implementations and other business transformation projects during my career. The logic of these change projects seemed reasonable, but much of the resistance from employees occurred because of their attachment to the way things were done in the organization. The five "students" in the book discuss how their organizations are attached to key artifacts, processes, or other operations. Reading it, it's likely you'll apply this to past experiences, which is the strong point of a parable instead of a traditional, research-based book.

At the end of the parable, the authors present their research. Their centerpiece is the Loss of Organizational Effectiveness (LOE) index, which combines the business and human factors of change and quantifies the impact on an organization. They link individual factors to the symptoms of organizational problems. I found the index to be easy to understand and something I can use in my role as a finance director/CFO as my organization undertakes several significant change projects.

The Pivot Point is a quick read, spanning about 100 pages, but don't mistake brevity for depth of content. This parable was one of the most understandable and applicable books on change management I've read. I'm planning to have the rest of my senior management team read and discuss this book, and other organizations should do the same.

To listen to a podcast from author Victoria Grady, visit

--Dallon Christensen CMA, CFM, CGMA, CPA/CITP,
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Title Annotation:BOOKS; The Pivot Point: Success in Organizational Change
Author:Christensen, Dallon
Publication:Strategic Finance
Article Type:Book review
Date:Oct 1, 2013
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