Book Review

Managing Change and Transition


Reviewed by Tom Narak
Superintendent,
Indianola Community Schools,
Indianola, Iowa

In the current era of high-stakes accountability, managing change in public schools has never been more important for school leaders. Fortunately, school leaders have some important issues in common with leaders in the business world.

In Managing Change and Transition the Harvard Business School has provided a resource for school leaders as well as those in the corporate arena.

The authors discuss practical ideas and techniques to help leaders manage change constructively and help people deal with the upheavals of change. Themes include an overview of the change process, preparing for organizational change, steps to change, change implementation, reactions to change, strategies to reduce stress and anxiety and the culture of continuous change.

Much of the book refers to leaders in the business world, but, with few exceptions, the information easily adapts to leadership in schools. The authors describe the importance of respected and effective leaders in business: “Everything we know about management tells us that bad bosses—people who are neither respected nor effective—are absolute deterrents to organizational performance. They cannot retain good employees and they cannot motivate those who remain.”

High-stakes testing and other performance indicators used as measures of success today are the catalysts for change in public schools. School leaders must plan pro-actively for this change in order to be successful. This book is a useful resource for those engaged in the change process for measurable improvements in their schools.

(Managing Change and Transition, Harvard Business Essentials, Harvard Business School Press, Boston, Mass., 2003, 208 pp., $19.95 softcover)