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Immunity to Change

Immunity to Change

Immunity to Change: How to Overcome it and Unlock the Potential in Yourself and Your Organization by Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey (2009, Harvard Business Press).

To address complex issues like climate change, we need to understand how and why individuals, groups, organizations and systems change. Yet sometimes it helps to take a step back and instead think about why we do not change.  Immunity to Change looks at the hidden dynamics that keep us from changing, including how competing commitments and hidden assumptions keep us doing the same thing, despite our best intentions. Kegan and Lahey bring insights from adult learning and human development to show how individuals and organizations can overcome their immunity to change to better meet increasingly complex challenges and demands. The authors make an important distinction between the socialized mind, the self-authoring mind, and the self-transforming mind, pointing out that current challenges are calling for a quantum shift in individual mental complexity. This book provides some simple yet powerful tools for overcoming individual and collective barriers to change.

“The challenge to change and improve is often misunderstood as a need to better “deal with” or “cope with” the greater complexity of the world. Coping and dealing involve adding new skills or widening our repertoire of responses. We are the same person we were before we learned to cope; we have simply added some new resources. We have learned, but we have not necessarily developed. Coping and dealing are valuable skills, but they are actually insufficient for meeting today’s change challenges.” (pp. 11-12)

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