Change or Die. What if you were given that choice? If you didn’t, your time would end soon—a lot sooner than it had to. Could you change when change matter. All leadership comes down to this: changing people’s behavior. Why is that so damn hard? Change or Die. By Alan Deutschman long Read. In this excerpt from the introduction to his new book, Change or Die: The Three Keys to Change at Work and in Life, Alan Deutschman.
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What if you were given that choice? Not xhange overblown exhortations of a rabid boss, or a maniacal coach, or a slick motivational speaker, or a self-dramatizing chief executive officer or political leader.
Your own life and death. What if a well-informed, trusted authority figure said you had to make difficult and enduring changes in the way you think, feel, and act?
Could you change when change really mattered? When it mattered most? Here are the odds that the experts are laying down, their scientifically studied odds: How do you like those odds? This revelation unnerved me when I heard it in November at a private conference at Rockefeller Due, an elite medical research center in New York City.
A dream team of experts took the stage, and you might have expected them to proclaim that breathtaking advances in science and technology—mapping the human genome and all that—held the long- awaited answers.
Speaking to the small group of insiders, they were unsparingly candid. Too much smoking, drinking, and eating. Then the really shocking news was presented by Dr.
Edward Miller, dean of the medical school and chief executive officer of the hospital at Johns Hopkins University.
Change or Die: The Three Keys to Change at Work and in Life
He talked about patients whose arteries are so clogged that any kind of exertion is terribly painful for them. It hurts too much to take a long walk. It laan too much to make love. So surgeons have to implant pieces of plastic to prop open their arteries, or remove veins from their legs to stitch near the heart so the blood can vhange the blocked passages.
Although these surgeries are astonishing feats, they are no more than temporary fixes. The bypass grafts often clog up within a few ro the angioplasties, in only a few months. Knowing these grim statistics, doctors tell their patients: You have to stop smoking, stop drinking, stop overeating, start exercising, and relieve your stress. But following the conference, when I searched through the archives of the leading scientific journals, I came across something doe.
Dean Ornish, a professor of medicine at the University of California at San Francisco, convinced the Mutual of Omaha insurance company to pay for an unusual experiment.
The researchers recruited patients who suffered from severely clogged arteries and could have bypass grafts or angioplasties covered by their insurance plans. Instead they signed up for a trial. The staffers helped them quit smoking and switch to an extreme vegetarian deuschman that derived fewer than 10 percent of its calories from fat.
In places like Omaha, they shifted from steaks and fries to brown rice and greens. The patients got together for group conversations twice a week, and they also took classes in meditation, relaxation, yoga, and aerobic exercise, which became parts of their daily routines. The program lasted for only a year.
After that, they were on their own. But three years from the start, the study found, 77 percent of the patients had stuck with these lifestyle changes—and safely avoided the need for heart surgery. They had halted—or, in many cases, reversed—the progress of their disease. If the medical establishment was resigned to the supposed fact that only one out of every ten people can change, even in a crisis, then how did Dr.
In the Justice Department published a study that trackedinmates after they were released from state prisons in fifteen states. This was the largest study lr criminal recidivism ever conducted in the United States. The results were cnange Most of the repeat offenders were felons.
Robert Hare, a professor at the University of British Columbia, who has been an influential adviser to the Federal Bureau ide Investigation. They assume that some people are simply born that way. The Delancey Street Foundation is actually deutschnan residence where criminals live and work together. Judges send them to Delancey from the state prisons, where they belonged to gangs and perpetrated violence.
They live at Delancey, five hundred of them, blacks and Latinos together with self- proclaimed neo- Nazis, along with only one professional staffer, Dr. Mimi Silbert, who earned PhDs in psychology and criminology before cofounding the program thirty- five years ago. Silbert entrusts the residents—remember, many of these people have been diagnosed as psychopaths —to care for and take responsibility for one another.
They kick out anyone who uses drugs, drinks alcohol, or resorts to threats or violence. Although most of them are illiterate when they first arrive, the ex-cons help one another earn their high school equivalency degrees, and they all learn at least three marketable skills.
In the winter they set up sites around the city where they sell Christmas trees. It never takes money from the government. Nearly 60 percent of the people who enter the program make it through and sustain productive lives on the outside. While the criminal justice system watches more than six out of ten convicts return to crime, Delancey turns nearly as many into lawful citizens. In the early s the managers at General Motors zlan the workers on its assembly lines viewed one another with hostility and fear.
The situation was especially troubled at the factory in Fremont, California.
A Hope for Change: Alan Deutschman on Change or Die • Six Seconds
You could tell this right away by the number of beer bottles littering the parking lot. The ones who did show up were distrustful and embittered. They rebelled when their bosses forced them to speed up the production line. They thought GM was trying chnage eliminate jobs by making the work go faster and by replacing them with robots.
Tension pervaded the Fremont plant. Workers and managers battled incessantly. The workers fought with one another so fiercely that the national headquarters of the United Auto Workers had to seize control of the local branch. Considering the situation hopeless, GM closed down the factory and laid off five thousand workers. Then something really strange happened.
Toyota offered to revive the plant and produce a GM car there—a Chevrolet. But the UAW insisted otherwise, and Toyota reluctantly took back the ornery old hands. The workers returned with just as much distrust for their new bosses as they had had for the previous ones.
Three months after the assembly line started up again, Nummi was rolling out cars with hardly any defects, which was an incredible feat. The cost of making the cars fell dramatically. Absenteeism at the Fremont factory went from more than 20 percent down to 2 percent, even though Toyota banned practices that once made the shifts seem tolerable, such as smoking and listening to the radio.
Detroit sent envoys to Fremont to see what was happening. But there was no gee- whiz gadgetry to see. It was s technology! The shocking improvements had happened there because the unionized American workers constantly came up with ideas for improving quality and cutting costs.
These were the very same workers who had been so hostile and embittered. The Ornish heart patients, Delancey ex-convicts, and Nummi autoworkers are classic examples of the psychology of change. We like to think that the facts can convince people to change. We like to think that change is motivated by fear and that the strongest force for change is crisis, which creates the greatest fear. What if the laws demanded even harsher punishments?
The Three Keys to Change
That only made the problem worse, actually. In fhange decade leading up to the Justice Department study, the states built more prisons and judges imposed longer sentences. The rearrest rate actually went up by five percentage points, from We think that this is simply human nature.
The people lr run things know that ex-cons rebel against the authority of their parole officers. They know that assembly workers struggle against the power of their bosses. So the experts, disgruntled with the ignorance and incorrigibility of the masses, take on the heroic role of saving us from ourselves and from one deutscman. They remake their fields around their belief in the impossibility of change. The Ornish and Delancey and Nummi cases are shocking because they prove that dramatic change is possible even in the situations that seem the most hopeless.
Change or Die is a short book about a simple idea.
I wrote this book because I believe passionately in this idea. Much of the time, change comes naturally to us. We get excited by new ideas and new directions. We learn from experience. We grow and mature. We respond to the new demands of each new stage of our lives, such as college, career, marriage, and parenthood. First, though, you need to know the bare bones. They will become much clearer once we go through the real-world examples. But here, for starters, are the three keys to change, which I call the three Rs: You form a new, emotional relationship with a person or community that inspires and sustains hope.
They have to sell you on themselves as your partners, mentors, role models, or sources of new knowledge. And they have to sell you on the specific methods or strategies that they employ.