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Learning to Change

Learning to Change
A Guide for Organization Change Agents

October 2002 | 344 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

"A good balance between theory and practice . . . it definitely fills a void in the [lack of] texts in the area and the change literature in general . . . a good fit for my graduate class on 'Managing Organizational Change.'"

—Anthony F. Buono, McCallum Graduate School of Business, Bentley College


"Like Gareth Morgan's Images of Organization, this book is a superb blend of theory and practicality. It demystifies chaos and paradox, and it encourages the understanding of organizational dynamics from multiple perspectives. It is refreshing to read a book that presents diverse theories and interventions so even-handedly."

—Andrea Markowitz, Ph.D., President, OB&D, Inc.


Learning to Change: A Guide for Organizational Change Agents provides a comprehensive overview of organizational change theories and practices developed by both U.S. and European change theorists. The authors compare and contrast five fundamentally different ways of thinking about change: yellow print thinking, blue print thinking, red print thinking, green print thinking and white print thinking. They also discuss in detail the steps change agents take, such as diagnosis, change strategy, the intervention plan, and interventions. In addition, they explore the attributes of a successful change agent and provide advice for career and professional development. The book includes case studies that describe multiple approaches to organizational change issues.


This book will appeal to both the practitioner and academic audiences. It can be used as a text in graduate courses in change management and will also be a useful reference for consultants and managers.



  • Discusses the abilities, attitudes, and styles of successful change agents
  • Describes five fundamentally different ways of thinking about change
  • Presents a state-of-the-art overview of change management insights, methods, and instruments
  • Summarizes an extensive amount of organizational change literature
  • Supplies readers with useful insights and courses of action that will allow them to design and implement change professionally


Learning to Change became a bestseller upon its initial publication in the Netherlands. The color-model on change is very popular among thousands of managers and change consultants and presents a new approach to change processes and a new language for change.

Why Change is so Complicated
On Loosely Coupled Systems

On Managing and Being Managed

On Chaos Thinking

Sociopolitical Mechanisms

Four Irrational Families of Theries Full Irrationalities

Thinking About Change in Five different Colors
Change Strategies and Approaches

Five Meanings of the Word Change

Five Ways of Thinking About Change in More Detail

Ideals and Pitfalls

New Colors and 'Super Páradigm'

Working With Colors: The Joseph and Johanna Case

The Main Elements of Planning Change
Elements of the Method

The Preceding Change Idea and the Actual Outcome

History: Driving Factors Behind the Change Idea


The Change Phases

Communication and Sense Making


Playing With the Elements: A Case Illustration

From Idea to Outcomes

Change Strategy

Intervention Plan



Case "Organization X"

Examples of Diagnostic Models
The Eisenhower Principle, Curriculum Vitae, Time Sheets

Profit Formula for Professional Organizaitons, Herring Bone Diagram, Task Dividion Scheme

Balanced Scorecard, Portfolio Analysis, Activity-Based Costing

Competition Structure, Environment Analysis, Experience Curves

Core Qualities, I/R Professionals, Competencies

Team Roles, Conditions for Team Success, Roles of the Staff Units

Culture Types, Organization Configurations, The Organizational Iceberg

Network Organization, Public Private Cooperation, Industrial Ecology

Biographical Fit, Power Sources, Levels of Learning

Optimal Conflict Level, Learning Curve, Process/Result Orientation

The Clock, the Passage of Resistance, Two Change Forces

Force-field Analysis, Mega-trends, National Cultures

In Conclusion to This Chapter

Examples of Intervention
Key features
Contemplative and practical Case studies
  • describe multiple approaches to the same presenting problem. Well-researched and balanced presentation
  • sets out change management ideas without promoting or subscribing to any one particular school of thought engagingly written
  • as one reviewer said: "The authors guide readers with ease through what could have been a cluttered maze of change theories and practices. A superb blend of theory and practicality."  

For instructors

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ISBN: 9781544349923

ISBN: 9780761927020

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