Saturday, March 05, 2011

Book Review: Driving Technical Change

Driving Technical Change by Terrence Ryan. Pub by Pragmatic Press. ISBN 1934356603

Having problems convincing your team, organization, company, customer, etc. to adopt a new methodology or technology? Like that’s never happened to anyone else before…

Terrence Ryan’s Driving Technical Change is a nice collection of insightful tips and strategies for dealing with people skeptical of the change you’re trying to push through. Ryan’s writing style is very clear and approachable, and the book’s perfectly sized at 130 pages – there’s just the right amount of content without belaboring various concepts.

Ryan starts off with a couple short chapters helping you focus whatever it is you’re trying to pitch (Defining the Problem, and Solve the Right Problem), then lays out his list of types of skeptics, along with insights on what drives them and advice on how to deal with them:

  • The Uninformed
  • The Herd
  • The Cynic
  • The Time Crunched
  • The Boss
  • The Irrational

The next two sections of the book, Techniques and Strategy, lay out guidance for dealing with the skeptics. The Techniques section is very tactical in nature, offering up pattern-like approaches such as Gain Expertise, Create Trust, and Build Something Compelling. Each of the chapters follows the same template, and Ryan tells you which approach works best for what sort of skeptic.

The Strategy section of the book helps you with broader issues in dealing with groups, and Ryan starts off with what I think is a terrific piece of advice: “Ignore The Irrational.” The Irrational skeptics have no logic behind their objections and won’t ever be swayed – so don’t spend your energy trying to deal with them. Engage them in dialog when they approach you, but focus on other groups who you’ve got a chance at impacting.

Ryan finishes up with a final chapter on some hard knocks he’s learned through various successes and failures. It’s a nice closer to a solid, useful book for figuring out how to best deal with people skeptical of change you’re trying to implement in your organizations.


Andy Vulhop said...

I haven't read it, so I may be offering redundant advice, but...

I think it's worth noting that if you find there are more Irrational peers than any other type, you should really weigh the effort of driving change at your place of employment vs. packing it in and finding a new place of employment that's more receptive to the type of work you want to be doing.

Jim Holmes said...

Well said, @andy! I'm in total agreement.

You can *change* where you work, or you can change *where* you work...

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