It Starts with One: Changing Individuals Changes Organizations

Financial Times
J. Stewart Black / Hal Gregersen  
Total pages
November 2013
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As many as 60% of organizational change initiatives fail. This means that many normally successful, motivated, and determined managers nonetheless struggle to lead change effectively. Most of those leadership failures share a common cause: managers mistakenly believe that organizational change is brought about by changing the organization. The truth is this: organizations change only as much or as fast as individuals change. And, to change individual behavior, you must first change the mental maps guiding that behavior.


In It Starts with One, Third Edition, J. Stewart Black identifies the three critical 'brain barriers' managers must break through in order to start, deepen, and sustain needed change. With new cases, examples, and tools for executing successful change initiatives, this edition dives even more deeply into the personal aspects of leading strategic change – as well as the unique challenges posed by driving change in global business environments. One step at a time, Black shows how to use their tools and techniques to bring solutions to life --  and transform change from a hope to a profitable reality.


  • Make sure change initiatives succeed: break through the brain barriers that cause them to fail
  • Now includes even more integrated tools, strategies and solutions for overcoming obstacles to improvement
  • New cases offer deeper insights into the personal elements of leading strategic change, even in global businesses
  • Focuses on what matters most to succeeding with change: helping individuals see the need, make the move, and fight through to the finish

Table of Contents

Preface     xvii
Chapter 1: The Challenge of Leading Strategic Change     1
Chapter 2: Barrier #1: Failure to See     31
Chapter 3: Solutions and Tools for Breaking Through Barrier #1: Helping People See the Need     61
Chapter 4: Barrier #2: Failure to Move     79
Chapter 5: Solutions and Tools for Breaking Through Barrier #2: Helping People Make the Move     95
Chapter 6: Barrier #3: Failure to Finish     113
Chapter 7: Solutions and Tools for Breaking Through Barrier #3: Helping People Fight Through the Finish     129
Chapter 8: Pulling It All Together     147
Chapter 9: Getting Ahead of the Change Curve     175
Index     193

Back Cover

To change the organization, first change the individual.

To change the individual, read this book!


Organizations can’t change because individuals don’t change. Individuals don’t change because powerful mental maps stand in their way. This book offers a powerful, start-to-finish strategy for helping people redraw their mental maps and unleash their power to deliver superior, sustained strategic change.


Extensively updated with new techniques, case studies, and examples, this edition offers even more valuable insights for today’s leaders. You’ll find new and better ways to pilot change; anticipate specific points of resistance; and recruit and support “on-the-ground” champions and influencers. The book concludes with a new framework for integrating these powerful techniques to make change finally work in your organization.


Now updated with new cases, integrated tools, strategies, & solutions


Today, virtually every organization faces massive change. Unfortunately, change is extraordinarily difficult, and most attempts to initiate and sustain it fail. This book targets the core cause of failure: before you can change the organization, you must first change individuals. That means changing the “mental maps” people use to see the world and guide their behavior. This book shows how to do that, one step at a time.


Drawing on decades of experience with the world’s leading enterprises, J. Stewart Black systematically identifies the three brain barriers that prevent change: failure to see, failure to move, and failure to finish. Then, he offers powerful tools, strategies, and solutions for overcoming all three of these obstacles.


This edition has been extensively revised to offer new insights, examples, and case studies–from Facebook and Google to AMC and Lenovo. It concludes with a new five-step framework for integrating the elements of effective change leadership in real-world environments. You’ll see this framework put to work through an important new case study: Deseret News, one of the few newspapers that has learned to thrive in the digital era.


• Overcoming the failure to see

Why organizations miss obvious market transformations–and what to do about it

• Breaking through the failure to move

Why people fail to change even when they see the need–and how to break through this barrier

• Conquering the failure to finish

Why change “stalls out”–and how to maintain the momentum

• Learning to change before crises demand it

Creating the capability to anticipate change, move when needed, and finish without “being told”


J. Stewart Black is a professor of Global Leadership and Strategy at IMD. An internationally recognised scholar on change and transformation, he is a frequent keynote speaker at conferences around the world and at company functions. He is regularly sought out to work with leading companies on issues of strategy and strategic change, especially with regard to developing leaders and high-potential managers to initiate and execute change in themselves and others.