Book Reviews from Change Mgt and OD Professionals

Building the Pyramid is a truly memorable book using a simple story to great effect to highlight a practical business growth model. It can be read in one go but more importantly, can be dipped back into when applying the concepts at work. It’s real, it shows real challenges and it gives structure to thinking and planning for the difficult things including getting buy in, creating vision and ultimately achieving success. I have found that the model can be equally well applied to change management and this makes the book applicable for any manager wanting to make a difference with their team or organisation.”

Nicola Bramwell, Director, Insight Creation

‘I found the book a real goldmine of fresh thinking. It provided a waffle-free insight and prompted me to think differently (and I hope better) about how my colleagues and I can get things done effectively via people. Highly recommended and a real ‘find’’

Fred Best, HR Business Partner at National Oilwell Varco

“Building the Pyramid is a book written for the hungry. I use it as a cookbook, selecting ideas as one might seek a menu for an occasion. Read it once, then again in reverse. Rest assured you will uncover the feast of ideas to be found inside.”

Gordon Mackay, Business Transformation Programme Manager at Scottish and Southern Energy

See also highlighted below online book review from online specialist website HRZONE

“It was with some trepidation that I picked up the Chartered Management Institute’s 2014 Management Book of the Year.

Never has the pressure to review a book been so intense; and so it was with some relief that I noticed the interesting graphics that adorned the cover. They were not ‘serious’ or ‘high-brow’ or ‘forbidding’. In fact for so august a volume, the book’s cover-art seemed a little frivolous.

Building the Pyramid is about providing an approach to delivering a successful organisational growth journey.

It is a different approach to describing the process of business planning and change management and the logic behind embarking on the necessary activities to achieve the intended beneficial outcomes. Much of it relates to the behavioural issues associated with change, which is not surprising since business-change success is usually largely about engaging, aligning and motivating people.

The title of this book may seem inconsistent with the theme of organisational change. It may, but it isn’t, because the book is written as a fiction. It is the story of Pharaoh Smendes which describes his travails as a young leader with big challenges. Stein carefully lays out his rationale for using a fictional theme in the introduction and – depending on your particular style of learning – the approach largely works. It may lack gravitas but there is plenty of content in this book.

Starting with a description of how to develop a tangible vision (“everyone dreams of being part of something special”), the book moves on through the storyline to describe 6 stages of change-management. The stages start with the ‘understanding the context and sharing the vision’ piece and finishes with an ‘ownership and celebration’ piece. After each stage, the author has helpfully summarised the lessons learned. In each stage, the author describes some scenario facing the young Pharaoh: in stage 3, for example, he describes the conducting of a citizen survey (p 45-7), the results of which mirror the realistic feedback we often get from cultural climate surveys carried out in the real world.

An important part of the learning from this book is where Stein has focused, in stage 4, on personal growth and learning: this is often missed out of change-management processes and I think its inclusion here genuinely differentiates this book from others. I also liked the quote on page 53 “The role of leaders is not generate more followers but to create more leaders” – a message that has particular resonance in the leadership development programmes with which I’ve been involved.

The book ends with a resource-section: this is 30 pages of practical suggestions based on the Pyramid framework. It includes ’50 important points to remember’ about delivering success and also includes some testimonial case studies from clients of Stein’s consulting firm.

So, what is this book really all about? – well, it is an easy-read, slim tome that will inform and educate readers who want to know more about the process of change. In that respect, it reminds me of Kotter’s “Our Iceberg is melting”.

Its effectiveness as a learning tool really depends on the way in which you prefer to learn.  It does not get into theory or concepts: in this sense, it is a highly practical book which a change practitioner or business leader could use as an ongoing guide to successful organisational change.

The author claims that the methodology described here has generated £500m in benefits over the years; impressive if true. Taking this at face value, it surely has to be worth a small investment in time to read and learn from it.

For the HR professional, this offers the opportunity to contextualise the change process, either for the delivery of HR change initiatives or for the benefit of their business clients.”