Make Change Work: Staying Nimble, Relevant and Engaged in a World of Constant Change.

Position:Book review

John Wiley & Sons * 192 pages * $22.95

The Dodo bird never had a chance.

When Dutch sailors first appeared on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius, the flightless birds approached them and were clubbed to death for food. The bird was not especially tasty, but accompanying dogs weren't so picky. And the cats, rats, pigs and monkeys that rode the human train feasted on Dodo eggs, which the bird laid within easy reach on the ground.

Now contrast the hapless Dodo, which suffered extinction within a hundred years of encountering humans, with the coyote. Notwithstanding its clueless image in the Roadrunner cartoons, the coyote is truly wily.

Once a denizen of prairies and deserts in the southwestern U.S., the hardy coyote has expanded its habitat to forests, mountains and urban areas. Biologists reckon that, thanks to their excellent survival skills, more than a thousand coyotes inhabit the Chicago metro area alone.

In short, Randy Pennington counsels in Make Change Work: Staying Nimble, Relevant and Engaged in a World of Constant Change, we humans would do well in an age of massive technological, societal and industrial upheavel to emulate the coyote. "They may look mangy sometimes," he writes, "but the coyote just gets it done."

Consultant, author, leadership expert and adjunct professor at the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Pennington is by turns prophet and motivational guru as he advances prescriptions for dealing with rapid change in the life of both organizations and individuals. "Change doesn't influence your environment," he reports, "change is your environment. The individuals and organizations that can continually be faster, better, cheaper and friendlier will stay relevant in a world of constant change."

Among Pennington's insights is the strategic importance of corporate culture. It's unlikely that organizations can implement internal changes or adapt to external forces without a shared system of beliefs, attitudes and goals. Put simply, culture is "the way we do things around here." In the best organizations, that translates into employees' striving together for a common purpose.

Employees operating in superior cultures not only embrace high performance standards and...

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