The Power to Change Book Summary - The Power to Change Book explained in key points
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The Power to Change summary

Campbell Macpherson

How to Harness Change to Make It Work for You

4.4 (378 ratings)
22 mins
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    The Power to Change
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    Changes happen in a matrix of four possibilities: big or small, and self-initiated or externally imposed.

    Imagine you’re standing on the edge of an oil platform somewhere in the North Sea. You look down and see dark blue, bitterly cold water churning a hundred feet below you. The last thing you’d want to do is fall.

    But now imagine a fire is raging behind you. The flames are unstoppable. No ladder is in sight. You need to get off the platform right away or you’ll be burned alive. So what do you do? You jump.

    This burning platform scenario provides a vivid metaphor for one of the four types of changes that can affect people’s lives. What are they? And how do they relate to your everyday life – a life that hopefully doesn’t involve oil platform catastrophes?

    To answer that question, you first need to understand something the author calls the change matrix.

    The key message here is: Changes happen in a matrix of four possibilities: big or small, and self-initiated or externally imposed.

    Whenever you’re dealing with a change, there are two fundamental questions you can ask about it. First, does it have a big or small impact on your life? And second, did you initiate the change yourself, or has it been imposed on you by other people or circumstances?

    By answering these questions, you get four basic possibilities, which, together, form the change matrix – a way of classifying changes. On the less impactful side, you could have a small change that’s externally imposed, like your city switching the garbage collection day from Tuesday to Thursday. Or you could have a small change that’s self-initiated, like getting a new haircut.

    The same division applies to the more impactful side of the matrix. You could have a big change that’s externally imposed, like getting laid off because of a corporate restructuring. The author calls it a Burning Platform change. Like that oil platform fire scenario, it’s a major, life-changing event that you didn’t choose for yourself and that often requires an equally major, life-changing response. Other examples could include losing a loved one, getting a serious illness, or – on a happier note – winning the lottery.

    Alternatively, you could have a big change that’s self-initiated. The author calls this a Quantum Leap change. It’s one of those pivotal moments where you take a giant step forward, like switching careers, getting married, or moving to a new city.

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    What is The Power to Change about?

    The Power to Change (2020) examines how to cope with change, navigate change, and make change happen. Full of insights and practical tips, its lessons are equally applicable to change in your personal and professional lives.

    Who should read The Power to Change?

    • People who are uncomfortable with change
    • Professionals wanting to make changes in their careers 
    • Anyone dealing with unanticipated changes in their lives

    About the Author

    Campbell Macpherson is an executive fellow at Henley Business School and an international business advisor. He’s the author of The Change Catalyst, which was a winner of the 2018 Business Book Awards, and has written for many publications including Management Today, Strategic HR Review, and the HR Director.

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