Terms of Engagement: Changing the Way We Change Organizations. Richard H. Axelrod. Berrett-Koehler.

Terms of Engagement: Changing the Way We Change Organizations Book Cover Terms of Engagement: Changing the Way We Change Organizations
Richard H. Axelrod
January 1, 2003

If you’ve ever asked yourself, “How can we get the entire organization to support our change effort?” you’re not alone. Most efforts fail, and not because of poor strategy, but because of faulty implementation, brought on by employee indifference, misunderstanding, and anger resulting from outmoded approaches to change. It’s easy to blame workers for their attitudes and let it go at that. If we shrug off these human difficulties, were condemning a company’s initiative to the change-effort graveyard. Not smart.

The best way to make change happen in your organization – the only reliable way – is for leaders and workers to come together, understand each other’s positions, and use the unique knowledge in the room to help drive the company’s effort. Terms of Engagement offers a powerful new alternative – the Engagement Paradigm – the provides leaders with a practical, principle-based strategy for creating successful change outcomes. It will enable you to produce an organization in which:

  • People grasp the big picture and are aligned around a common purpose
  • Accountability is fully distributed as people come to understand the whole system
  • Performance gaps are quickly identified and sold, improving productivity and customer satisfaction
  • Creativity is sparked as people from all levels contribute the best ideas
  • Capacity for future changes increases as people develop the skills and processes to meet current and future challenges

Drawing on numerous real-life and life examples from such companies as British Airways, Hewlett-Packard, Detroit Edison, Inova Health System, and First Union Bank, Dick Axelrod shows how to make this happen in your organization.

Richard H. Axelrod helped to revolutionize the world of organizational change when, along with his wife Emily, he developed the Conference Model, a process for engaging an entire organization in systemwide change. Realizing that in today’s world it is no longer acceptable for the few to meet behind closed doors and design for the many, Axelrod became a pioneer in the use of large groups to affect organizational change.

The Engagement Paradigm was born out of Richard’s work on the Conference Model and his experience with other large group change methodologies. Emily’s background as an educator and family therapist has deepened the paradigm.

Richard brings over twenty-five years of consulting and teaching experience with leading companies to this work. His clients include British Airways, BellSouth, First Union Bank, Harley-Davidson, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, and Mercy Healthcare Sacramento.

Richard is an active professional. Currently he is working with Peter Block and the Association for Quality and Participation to develop the School for Managing and Leading Change, an innovative approach to management education. Before forming the Axelrod group, Inc., in 1981, Richard was an organization development manager for General Foods.

Richard and Emily co-authored The Conference Model and Richard is a contributing author to Discovering Common Ground by Weisbord and others, The Change Handbook by Devane and Holman, and The Flawless Consulting Field Book by Peter Block.

Richard received his MBA from the University of Chicago and lives with Emily in Wilmette, Illinois. Richard and Emily have two adult children; Heather Oliver, a kindergarten teacher in Dallas, Texas, and David Axelrod, a professional ski instructor in Breckenridge, Colorado.