Managing at the Speed of Change by Darryl Conner

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Publisher’s Description

This classic, newly updated, is an indispensable source for anyone–from mid-level managers to CEOs–who must execute key business initiatives quickly and effectively. Once groundbreaking and now time-honoured, Managing at the Speed of Change has helped countless business leaders learn how to orchestrate transitions vital to their organizations’ success. Rather than focusing on what to change, this book’s aim is far more valuable: It shows readers how to change.

Our Insight

First published in 1993, in this book Conner coined the term ‘burning platform’ based on a 1988 oil rig fire in the North Sea off the coast of Scotland.   One hundred and sixty three crew members lost their lives in the incident.  Connor described an interview he saw on TV with one of the survivors, a superintendent named Andy Mochan.  Mochan described facing a choice of jumping 150 feet into the sea where he risked dying of hypothermia within minutes, or remaining on the rig and almost certainly dying in the flames.  Mochan opted to jump, saying, “It was jump or die.”  The metaphor of the burning platform has since become embedded in the Organizational Change Management lexicon, but that of business management as well.

One of the earliest progenitors of modern Organizational Change Management Theory, Conner combines decades of personal and business experience with extensive research on how organizations and employees deal with change in this classic book. It offers a number of useful frameworks that are probably familiar to many readers, since they’ve been widely disseminated, reused and adapted.  What I particularly like is Conner’s use of concepts and quotes by figures ranging from Heraclitus to Alvin Toffler and the ubiquitous Elizabeth Kubler-Ross.


Useful and practical frameworks for understanding, executing and communicating about change

A durable classic that every Organizational Change Management practitioner should read and have in their library.


Could focus more on Communication Planning and Execution

Despite the use of anecdotes and personal experience, is somewhat clinical in its approach

Publisher: Random House

ISBN: 9780679406846

Published: January 19, 1993