Book Review

The Change Handbook: The Definitive Resource on Today’s Best Methods for Engaging Whole Systems

by Peggy Holman, Tom Devane and Steven Cady, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, San Francisco, Calif., 2007, 732 pp. with index, $59.95 softcover

With the increased emphasis on systemic leadership of schools, superintend-ents need an arsenal of strategies for engaging stakeholders to lead change. The three authors of The Change Handbook: The Definitive Resource on Today’s Best Methods for Engaging Whole Systems have provided such a resource. All work as change consultants with clients ranging from the Israeli Ministry of Education to Microsoft, AT&T and DaimlerChrysler.

Their book presents highly successful methods for initiating and sustaining change from respected change leadership practitioners worldwide. They describe methods for changing “whole systems … based on two powerful foundation assumptions: high involvement and a systemic approach to improvement.”

Each method has a theoretical base with details on how to get started, how to apply it, the conditions for success and where to turn for more information. Many websites are listed for more in-depth information about any of the methods.

One caution: Before employing many of the methods in this handbook, the authors advise the reader to attend training or obtain skilled support. However, superintendents may be familiar with some of the high-leverage methods that simply need self-directed study, including Appreciative Inquiry, Open Space Technology and The World Café.

School leaders who want to more strategically involve people in their schools in sustainable improvements could apply the methods in The Change Handbook. The book also can be used as a reference when negotiating with external consultants for services.

Reviewed by Judith A. Zimmerman, associate professor of educational administration and leadership studies, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio